The Observer understands that senior civil servants in the Home Office and Foreign Office have recommended that ministers approve an application by Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is banned from entering the United States, to come to London for medical treatment. The news has prompted unease in the Department for Communities and Local Government, which fears that allowing Qaradawi in might offend other faith groups as well as many Muslims. Several senior civil servants are also understood to have reservations because Qaradawi, 80, has previously received treatment in France, suggesting that he can receive medical attention for his undisclosed illness elsewhere. There were calls last night for ministers to reject Qaradawi’s application….A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that it could not comment on individual visa applications.
In 2004, the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone invited Qaradawi to London for a conference where he reiterated his support of suicide bombings in Israel, a position he took many times in the past although he has recently modified that support, opposing the tactic in “crowded areas”. He has also authorized “martyrdom operations” in Iraq. The report also notes that two years ago, the U.K. the government paid for Qaradawi and his wife to fly from his home in Qatar to Istanbul for a conference. The nature of Qaradawi’s illness was not identified and previous posts have discussed his recent bouts of ill-health.