Sadiq Khan confirms he won’t meet Egypt’s Grand Mufti during UK visit

Shawki Allam. Pic: Creative Commons License

The Mayor of London has confirmed that he will not meet Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Shawki Allam, after concerns were raised about his human rights record.

According to the Egyptian authorities, Allam arrived in the UK on Sunday at the official invitation of the UK Parliament.

In pre-departure statements, Shawky said he was due to deliver a speech before the House of Commons and the House of Lords and would meet with a number of senior UK officials and the London Mayor.

He was also due to deliver a number of lectures and seminars in several forums and British research centres.

But a spokesman for the Mayor’s office told 5Pillars: “Despite what the Grand Mufti may have said, the Mayor has no plans to meet with him during his visit to the UK. I believe the Grand Mufti has been invited over by an All Party Parliamentary Group but the Mayor has no involvement in this.”

This came after British Muslim activists urged organisations and individuals to sign the letter below.

Sadiq Khan. Editorial credit: Frederic Legrand – COMEO

Dear Sadiq Khan,

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We, the undersigned, are appalled to learn that Shawki Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt responsible for ratifying tens of brutal executions, has been invited by your office for a meeting this week.

Since assuming the position of Grand Mufti in 2013, Shawki Allam has approved hundreds of executions, many of which are of political prisoners and critics of the government, in unfair trials without due process in a blatant disregard for human life and human rights.

Egypt ranks among the countries with the highest numbers of executions worldwide — third according to Amnesty International, or fifth according to Reprieve. Over the last eight years, and under the oversight of Shawki Allam, the number of death sentences and executions in Egypt has skyrocketed, with executions often carried out en masse. In 2020, the number of death sentences carried out tripled to over 130 and this year alone, 7 death sentences have been carried out so far, and 87 defendants remain on death row.

Egypt’s appalling record on executions under Shawki Allam has been roundly condemned by a number of local and international human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani.

We know that as Mayor of London, you pride yourself on creating a city that is open to all, but that welcome should not be extended to those responsible for many innocent deaths. We also believe that Londoners would be horrified to know that our institutions are rolling out the red carpet for the likes of Shawki Allam who have faciliated many egregious human rights abuses. We can only assume that your office was not aware of Shawki Allam’s appalling record and we urge you to immediately rescind your office’s invitation to meet with him.

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