The visit of Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the…

The visit of Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, the imam of Makka, to the UK has upset a few people.

It is true that if you’re going to have a policy which bans far-right racists and shock jock bigots, then imams who spew antisemitic diatribes should also be banned. But what the entry of the imam really shows is that the Saudis are our ‘friends’, and Saudi establishment figures should not be subjected to orders from the Home Office the same way others are. After all, what’s a little mosque tour of the UK, when our political leaders are more than happy to subvert our rule of law for them?

And what about Muslims who invited the imam? Yusuf Smith once noted that if people from Makka had to be invited to attend mosque functions in the UK then why not invite someone whose beliefs would probably be more in keeping with the wider British Muslim population. That an imam from Makka can be invited and warmly welcome, regardless of his theological beliefs, underlines the ‘allure’ (some say ‘problem’) of Makka. (There is also a form of self-hatred going on here.)

What is also interesting about al-Sudais leading prayers in one of the mosques he has visited, the Al Tawhid Masjid in east London, isn’t the choice of venue — this mosque was opened by a Saudi dignitary in the 1990s — but that one of the imams of this mosque is Dr Usama Hasan, who (last time I checked) was on friendly terms with the Quilliam Foundation.