The office of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, issued a press release in June announcing the formation of a new coalition “aimed at defending freedom of religious and cultural expression.” The rationale for the coalition appear to be mainly related to controversy over the hijab (Islamic headscarf) but included other concerns as explained by the release:
..in the light of continuing media and other claims that different communities and faith groups openly expressing their culture or faith threaten community relations in Britain. Such claims have been most recently and strongly directed at the Muslim community, particularly focusing on the right of Muslim women to wear the veil. But such attacks have also recently included a high profile case where a staff member at British Airways was prohibited from wearing a crucifix. The established rights of Sikh community to wear turbans have also come under assault.The new coalition will bring together people of all faiths and none, to counter these assaults and to actively make the case that all communities should be allowed to express their culture or faith, as long as this is within the law and does not impact on the rights of others to express themselves similarly.
This new coalition consists mainly of previously allied groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood affiliated British Muslim Initiative and the Muslim Council of Britain along with their far-left U.K. political partners including the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. New to the coalition are a handful of trade union groups, a Jewish anti-racism organization, and a Sikh group. Ken Livingston is well known for his support of Muslim Brotherhood groups and causes including a 2004 invitation to Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi to speak at City Hall in London where the Sheikh reiterated his support for suicide bombings in Israel. Qaradawi is generally thought to be the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood network.