Islamic conference banned for planned audience segregation
Jul 25 2009 by Tim Lewis, South Wales Echo
CARDIFF Council has cancelled an Islamic conference due to be held in one of its buildings after it discovered the audience would be segregated.
Organisers have accused the council of religious discrimination after they scrapped the conference given only 24 hours’ notice.
The meeting entitled “Islam – from revelation to implementation” was due to take place from 4pm today at County Hall in Cardiff Bay.
But Cardiff Council yesterday cancelled the event because organisers intended to segregate men and women at the three-hour long conference by ensuring the two sexes sat apart on each side of the room.
Abu Hajar, spokesman for organisers Islamic Path, said: “The conference has been booked for months and at the time of booking we were told segregation would be fine.
“I know other private functions have been held at County Hall in the past by members of the ethnic community and there has been segregation.
“The council is discriminating against us because of our religious beliefs.”
A Cardiff Council spokeswoman said: “The booking for this event was cancelled on the basis that the event’s organisers wish to segregate men and women attending. Such an event on council premises would be wholly inconsistent with the council’s gender equality duty and the event organisers have been notified accordingly.”
Last week the Echo was contacted by members of a protest group which had intended to demonstrate outside County Hall today.
More than 100 people were expected to attend the protest because of suggestions the controversial Muslim leader Anjem Choudary and members of the recently-reformed Islamic sect Al Muhajiroun were going to be guest speakers at the conference.
Two factions of Al Muhajiroun, The Saviour Sect and Al-Ghurabaa, are banned under the Terrorism Act for the “glorification of terrorism” but the main organisation reformed in June.
An e-mail circulated among the protest group’s members said: “This is not a racial matter, it’s about the lovers of terrorism preaching their hate in our land.”
But Abu Hajar has denied members of Al Muhajiroun were due to speak at the conference and said the decision to cancel the event would be bad for community relations.
He added: “There was not going to be anything controversial about the conference. This is only going to make things worse between the Islamic community and the rest of Cardiff because once again we are being portrayed negatively.”
About 300 people were expected at the conference but organisers say they are not planning to reorganise anything this weekend due to the short notice.