'Taliban mentor' cleric allowed to speak at House of Lords

Fazlur Rehman

Fazlur Rehman

A senior Muslim cleric who is known as the “Taliban’s ideological mentor” has been allowed to enter the UK and address the House of Lords.

Fazlur Rehman, the head of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, came to the UK on Wednesday, at the invitation of the High Commission of Pakistan, and was due to address the House of Lords on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the chairman of human rights group Ansar Burney Trust International and Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights, Ansar Burney, asked Home Secretary Theresa May to block Maulana Rehman’s entry due to his “religious extremist ideological threat”.

Mr Burney said Maulana Rehman’s “unquestionable pro-Taliban ideologies and vowed support for the Taliban may potentially carry a great deal of threat to the British society.”

Think tank International Crises Group has claimed Muslim seminaries run by his party are used as Taliban recruitment centres and identified Maulana Rehman as the Taliban’s “ideological mentor”.

He added that if Maulana Rehman is not banned, he will seek judicial review to challenge the permission.

Earlier this year, Ms May banned controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik from entering the UK on the basis that his presence was not conducive to the public good.

A spokeswoman from the Home Office said they would not comment on individual cases.

A spokesman at London-based counter terrorism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, said: “It is very worrying that Rehman has been able to get into the country. We call on the Government to have more scrutiny for individuals such as him.

“His party is well known for being antisemitic and pro-Taliban.”

Mohammed Abbasi, a spokesman for the Association of British Muslims, said: “Fazlur Rehman has been stirring up political fanaticism and anti-Western sentiment in Pakistan for years. The government must know full well that he is extremely likely to spread similar hatred and support for the Taliban during his stay in the UK.

"It is extraordinary that he should be welcomed here despite his track record of openly supporting the Taliban.

"Entrance to the United Kingdom is a privilege which should not be granted to extremists who promote hatred and stir up tension. Rather than rolling out the red carpet for them, where possible figures like Mullah Fazlur Rehman should face legal action.”

Last updated: 4:43pm, November 24 2010