The Muslim lobby group MEND have issued a statement explaining why they are hosting an American Muslim activist with controversial theological views for their upcoming conferences in the UK.
Political activist from New York, Linda Sarsour, will be speaking at MEND’s ‘Losing My Religion Conference’ next month alongside Dr Yasir Qadhi (USA), rapper Lowkey, comedian Tez Ilyas, and other prominent UK-based scholars and activists.
Several Muslims took to Facebook to voice their concerns with MEND hosting Ms Sarsour due to her unIslamic stances on same-sex marriage, LGBT rights, abortion and aspects of the Shariah penal code.
MEND issued the following statement yesterday in response to contentions:
“A few concerns have been raised at the invitation by MEND to invite Linda Sarsour to speak at the LMRC conference 2019. The concerns relate to Linda’s views on LGBTQI rights. MEND wishes to make a few observations in this regard;
“1. MEND hosts hundreds of events a year with a variety of speakers from differing backgrounds, both Muslims & Non-Muslim, who have a wide range of views across a variety of issues.
“2. The overarching theme of the LMRC conference is how best to tackle Islamophobia in an increasingly hostile political climate in the West. It is not a conference on Islamic theology per se, nor is MEND an Islamic theological organisation.
“3. Linda Sarsour has been invited to LMRC to speak about her extensive political activism work, not in an Islamic Scholarly capacity.
“4. Sharing a platform with another speaker does not imply that you share or endorse all of their views on every subject. In fact how else do we constructively challenge the views of others unless we engage with them? Countless events and panels occur across the UK each year hosting speakers with differing views on subjects. Locational proximity can never imply theological agreement.
“5. The decision to invite Linda Sarsour was taken by MEND, and not by any of the publicised speakers
“6. Numerous major, mainstream Muslim conferences in the US and Canada have invited Linda to speak alongside mainstream orthodox Muslims scholars. LMRC would not be the first time Linda is speaking alongside orthodox Muslim scholars.
“7. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the conference involving a panel of speakers, this is an opportunity for anyone wishing to ask any of the speakers any questions on any aspect of Islam and Islamophobia, including LGBTQI related questions. We suggest that anyone with questions for Linda or indeed any other speaker, avails themselves of this opportunity to ask their question directly.”