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Imam accused by David Cameron 'has faced death threats'

Published 11/05/2016

Downing Street said David Cameron was referring to reports that Sulaiman Ghani supports 'an' Islamic state
Downing Street said David Cameron was referring to reports that Sulaiman Ghani supports 'an' Islamic state

An imam accused of being an Islamic State supporter has faced threats to his life as a result of David Cameron's "smears", according to Muslim leaders.

The Prime Minister apologised for "any misunderstanding" after he branded Sulaiman Ghani a backer of the jihadi group and Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also said sorry for his "inadvertent error" in echoing the comments.

The Muslim Council of Britain called for them to make formal retractions in the House of Commons and urged the Con servatives to launch a probe into Islamophobia in the party.

Secretary general Shuja Shafi said: "I welcome the Prime Minister's long overdue apology to Imam Sulaiman Ghani, a London imam who has thus far been unable to challenge claims made in Parliament that he supports Daesh or terrorism.

"As a result of these smears, we understand that Imam Ghani has been subject to abuse and threats on his life.

"I call on both the Prime Minister and the Defence Secretary to make that apology in Parliament as well."

Mr Ghani is in discussions with lawyers over his legal options.

In the run-up to the local elections, the Prime Minister used question time in the Commons to accuse Labour's London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan of repeatedly sharing a platform with Mr Ghani, a former imam at Tooting Islamic Centre.

Mr Cameron told MPs: ''Sulaiman Ghani, Mr Khan has appeared on a platform with him nine times. This man supports IS."

His comments were made under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

Dr Shafi urged the Tory party to learn from the "disreputable" campaigning.

He said: "Imam Ghani became the innocent casualty of a wider Islamophobic attack on the now mayor of London and the Conservative Party needs to apologise for this too.

"Such smear-by-association has become all too common for Muslims and Muslim organisations. It is a cancer blighting sections of our political and media class and has infected the solemn business of government.

"For the real extremists we are all opposed to, such tactics will only provide fresh new examples of a society not willing to accept Muslims for who they are.

"I also call for an urgent review of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. Just as the Labour Party is rightly conducting an inquiry into anti-Semitism, it is important for the Conservative Party to reflect upon the extent of Islamophobia in its own ranks. We should have zero tolerance for both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

"We urge the Conservative Party to reflect and learn from this disreputable period of campaigning so that we can all draw a line and move on."

Downing Street said Mr Cameron was referring to reports that Mr Ghani supports "an" Islamic state when he made the comments.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "In reference to the Prime Minister's comments on Sulaiman Ghani, the Prime Minister was referring to reports that he supports an Islamic state. The Prime Minister is clear this does not mean Mr Ghani supports the organisation Daesh and he apologises to him for any misunderstanding."

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