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Simon Hughes condemns Tory boycott of GPU

The Liberal Democrat deputy leader has criticised the eleventh-hour withdrawal of the Conservative Party Chairwoman from a prominent Muslim conference, amid claims she had been banned from attending by the Tories.

Baroness Warsi, the most senior Muslim in government, pulled out of a planned speech at the Global Peace and Unity (GPU) event in London on Sunday. Mrs Warsi was said to be “very upset” not to speak, sparking allegations the decision was made by Conservative Party officials who felt other speakers at the conference may be deemed controversial or extremist.

In a thinly-veiled attack on the Conservatives Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, speaking at the conference, said: “I am aware some people say this event is controversial. I have a message to you and to my colleagues in Parliament. I always believe it is better for people of every background to engage with the Muslim community, not to walk away.”

In his speech at the Excel conference centre, East London, he said: “I want to make it very clear that we were privileged to accept this invitation. I hope that in future years all the political parties will be here at this event.” At a press conference after his speech, Mr Hughes added: “I think it is unfortunate that our Conservative colleagues are not represented.”

Mohamed Ali, chair of the GPU foundation, said Mrs Warsi’s non-appearance was a “very bad example” from a leading member of the Muslim community and former Muslim activist. He said: “Every single school of thought in the Muslim community in the United Kingdom is represented here and they banned her from coming. It’s a shame on them.”

Original post: Simon Hughes condemns Tory boycott of GPU

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