POLITICS

Ukip Peer Accused Of Divisiveness After Calling On Muslim Leaders To 'Clarify Modern Meaning Of Islam'

05/11/2015 12:22 GMT | Updated 05/11/2015 14:59 GMT
Parliament TV

A Ukip peer today called on the Government to fund a special council for Muslim leaders to “clarify the modern meaning” of Islam and “cast the extremists out”.

Lord Pearson, a former Ukip leader, told the House of Lords he had produced a “short summary” of Islam as he spoke about the “the seriousness of our domestic situation.”

His suggestion that there should be an “open debate” on the accuracy of his report, and the need for Muslim leaders to “clarify” their religion was criticised by peers from all sides of the Chamber.

Lord Pearson began his remarks by claiming that “where there is contradiction in the Qur’an, its later, more violent verses outweigh its admirably peaceful early texts.”

Addressing Tory minister Lord Ahmad, he continued: “Together with some Qur’anic scholars I have written a short summary of Islam which I will send to him and we are asking the Guardian newspaper to hold an open debate as to its accuracy.

“Given the seriousness of our domestic situation couldn’t the Government itself sponsor a council of our Muslim leaders in which they could clarify the modern meaning of their religion and cast the extremists out of Islam?”

Lord Ahmed said he “look[ed] forward to receiving the noble Lord’s summary of the great religion of Islam” before adding: “Perhaps in his reflection he would have also noted that with the exception of one verse in the Holy Qur’an, every verse in the holy Qur’an starts with the words ‘In the name of God, the gracious most merciful’, which underlines the true sentiments and principle of that religion.”

Former Tory chancellor Lord Lamont blasted the Ukip peer’s call for the Government to sponsor a “council of Muslim leaders” as “totally inappropriate”.

Fellow Tory peer Baroness Mobarik also poured cold water on the idea, and said: “Such a debate as he advocates could be divisive and further exacerbate the current rise in Islamophobia.

“I, like the vast majority of the 1.6billion Muslims around the world, was taught that peace, compassion and obeying the law of the land are fundamental. To me, that’s the nature of Islam.”

Last year, Lord Pearson provoked criticism after he called on Muslims to “address the violence in the Qur’an” as he claimed the text inspired the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

In a Lords debate he said: “Are the government aware that Fusilier Rigby’s murderers quoted 22 verses of the Qur’an to justify their atrocity? Therefore, is the prime minister accurate or helpful when he describes it as a betrayal of Islam? Since the vast majority of Muslims are our peace-loving friends, should we not encourage them to address the violence in the Qur’an – and indeed in the life and the example of Muhammad?”

Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said the comments showed Ukip was a party of "Islamophobes and people who just generally can’t understand and tolerate the different heritages and cultures that we have in the UK who work together.”