Hizbullah official: I respect the Jews

Top editor of group's TV channel praises coexistence of Liverpool's Muslims and Jews on UK visit.

Liverpool 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Liverpool 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Ibrahim Mousawi, chief foreign editor at Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV in Lebanon, told Liverpool's The Echo newspaper this week, "I am not divisive and I do not preach hate." "I understand that Muslims and Jews have lived together for a long time in your city," he told the paper. "In Liverpool, my message will be the same I say everywhere I go - that is that people have the right to live in peace and without fear of their homes being invaded. We must all denounce war and we must all fight together to stop the killing." He was in the city to speak at the Princes Park Methodist Church on Tuesday. Mousawi is a guest in the UK of the Stop the War coalition, set up in 2001 by members of the far-left Socialist Worker Party to "stop the war currently declared by the US and its allies against terrorism," according to the party. Louise Ellman, a Labor MP from Liverpool, said she was aghast at the Foreign Office's decision to allow Mousawi into the country. "I am appalled he has been allowed into the country and shocked that he has been invited to Liverpool, a city with a proud history of excellent community relations," she said. "This is a terrorist leader who fosters division and hate. He represents the exact opposite of what is needed to bring peace and reconciliation in Lebanon and the Middle East." Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said, "We have made our very real concerns known to the Home Office and are disappointed at the failure to exclude Mousawi, particularly following the explicit threats made against Jews around the world made by Hizbullah." "The UK should not be seen as providing a platform to this kind of extremism, an opportunity to send out a clear message that intimidation will not be tolerated has been missed," he said. In an interview with Liverpool newspaper The Echo, Mousawi said he fully understood Liverpool's record of good relations between Jewish and Muslim communities and insisted his mission was "to prevent ongoing slaughter of innocent civilians." Asked to clarify his comments or if he was anti-Semitic, Mousawi said: "What would you do if your home was invaded? Would you stand back and do nothing? "I have invited rabbis to Lebanon [from Natorei Karta]. I do have a problem with the aggression of Israel and those who attack my people," he said. However the newspaper cited an interview with an Australian broadcaster in which he said with regard to the deaths of Israeli civilians, "Pain is the only language that the enemy understands." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Rev. Andrew Fox, the vicar of Princes Park, said the church did not invite the speaker but rather a group which had previously used the space. "We had no idea who they were inviting. When we found out, we looked into the situation and saw he was speaking at other meetings," Fox said. "If it was fit for him also to enter the country, and while there are some members of the community who see things differently, we made a judgment to proceed." Speaking at a Jewish community event on Monday night, Conservative Party leader David Cameron condemned the decision to allow Moussawi into the country, and asked how it was right to ban Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi [the cleric banned from entering the UK last month] and not Moussawi. "Gordon Brown recently banned Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and a notorious preacher of hate, from Britain," Cameron said at the Community Security Trust fund-raising dinner. "A man who justifies suicide bombing and calls for homosexuals to be murdered has no place here. "That's why I asked raised the matter in the House of Commons and asked the prime minister to keep him out, but at the same time I also called for him to exclude the head of Hizbullah's notoriously anti-Semitic TV station, Ibrahim Moussawi. "Moussawi was recently banned by the Irish government, but for some reason he has now been allowed into Britain. He's here at the moment, on a speaking tour, spreading his vile message. The government cannot afford to split the difference with the extremists - excluding Qaradawi, letting in Moussawi," the Conservative leader insisted. "Terrorist apologists should be kept out. Full stop. Period." In his speech, Cameron also condemned the support for Hizbullah expressed on the streets of London during the Second Lebanon War. "We witnessed the nauseating sight of well-scrubbed, middle class English people marching through central London holding placards that read, 'We are all Hizbullah,'" Cameron said. "That is the extremist mindset in action."