Journalists and academics, non-Muslim and Muslim, will speak at the event to lend it a veneer of respectability. But closer examination of the programme reveals something else. The most frequent speakers at this event are advocates of suicide bombing. The directors of Islam Expo Limited, as registered at Companies House, include well-known supporters of clerics who provide theological support for suicide bombers.
Azzam Tamimi, a director, has repeatedly expressed his belief that suicide bombings are martyrdom operations, and lead to paradise in the next life. Another director, Kathem Sawalha, was named as a co-conspirator in a 2003 indictment brought by US federal prosecutors in Chicago against Hamas activists in the US. According to the indictment, before Mr Sawalha moved to London in the early Nineties, he was a Hamas leader in the West Bank. Why are such men being allowed to organise and repeatedly address young Muslims in London?
Their endorsement of martyrdom operations in Tel Aviv makes it theologically possible to attack innocents in London and New York. The suicide bomber who seeks his place in paradise, as promised to him by clerics such as Yusuf al Qaradawi (hosted by Ken Livingstone), sees Brits and Israelis as one thing: kuffar, or infidel.
(Ed Husain, Evening Standard)
The trigger for their sudden withdrawal from a rare opportunity to engage with thousands of British Muslims (others such as the Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes resisted the pressure to withdraw) seems to have been an Evening Standard article by the increasingly extreme anti-Islamist campaigner Ed Husain comparing the event to a British National Party rally.
The basis for his absurd claim were the real or imagined links of some of the organisers with Hamas, winners of the last Palestinian elections, or the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political movement in the Arab world. The main squeeze was put on by Hazel Blears' communities and local government department, which has been playing an increasingly retrograde and self-defeating role in relations with the Muslim community.
(Seumas Milne, Guardian)
The government was also concerned about the event, and barred its ministers from participating. See: Muslim Minister barred from islam Expo.