Oxfam cancels event at East London Mosque over 'homophobic' speaker
PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 January 2014
The charity Oxfam cancelled an event at the East London Mosque after it learned the headline speaker had declared gay people should be "severely punished" under Islamic law.
It called off the event, at the mosque’s London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel last Friday, when they found speaker Ibrahim Hewitt had written a book for GCSE students calling homosexuality a “great sin”.
Mr Hewitt wrote that homosexuality is an “evil practice which could corrupt and pollute the whole society”, and should be treated like paedophilia or incest.
Oxfam media co-ordinator Alun MacDonald said that Mr Hewitt’s comments were “not in line with Oxfam’s position on homosexuality”.
He said: “We are against discrimination and what he has written is in contradiction to what we believe.”
This week the mosque stood by him, saying it regretted the cancellation of the Gaza: Through Our Eyes exhibition’s last day and would work with him again.
A spokesman said: “The mosque and centre wished to highlight the plight of the children in Gaza. We do not believe Ibrahim Hewitt’s views to be homophobic nor can we find any instance of him being so.”
Mr Hewitt denied being homophobic, saying his book was referring only to “what things could be like in an Islamic state”.
He said: “I do not, as has been alleged, ‘advocate’ violence against homosexuals. What goes on behind closed doors is between the people involved and their creator.
“However, if someone decides to make a political issue of their sexuality, then surely it is only to be expected that there will be people who disagree with them.”
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “Ibrahim Hewitt is clearly on record as making anti-gay remarks.
“It is very disturbing that he and the East London Mosque are now claiming that he hasn’t expressed deeply offensive views. This calls into question their credibility and integrity.”
He added: “I think both Hewitt and the mosque owe the public and the LGBT community an apology.”