The founder of an Islamic private school who also heads ‘pro-Palestine’ group Interpal, has refused to condemn the stoning to death of adulterers during an interview on the BBC’s Newsnight programme.
Asked repeatedly by presenter Jeremy Paxman over Sharia punishments, such as stoning adulterers and cutting off the hands of thieves, Hewitt refused to be drawn on the issue.
When asked by Paxman whether he would condone stoning for adulterers in a Sharia state, he responded that it would depend on circumstances.
At this point, fellow guest Maajid Nawaz of the counter-extremism Quilliam Foundation, asked him whether he would condone it in principle if the Sharia conditions were met, to which he simply responded that it was not being taught in schools.
Speaking on the issue of extremism, Mr Nawaz said that Muslims must condemn hard line Sharia punishments.
He said: “If we cannot sit on Newsnight and openly say that in principle we don’t condone the stoning of adulterers or the chopping off of hands if Sharia conditions are met anywhere in the world, then we’ve got a problem.”
Yet Mr Hewitt refused to condemn the principle of Sharia punishments, instead evading the question.
When Mr Paxman asked Hewitt if he’s like to live in a Sharia state, he said: “It depends where it is”.
When asked whether he’d like Britain to become a Sharia state, he refused to answer yes or no, instead saying that he didn’t think it would become one. He did admit that he would like to live under Sharia law.
Hewitt and Nawaz had been invited on the programme to discuss the “Trojan Horse” plot by hard line Muslims to take over schools in Birmingham.
Although Hewitt, who is chairman of trustees of the private Islamic Al Aqsa school, said that there is no evidence of extremist ideology being taught in British schools, Mr Nawaz claimed to have been contacted by teachers saying it was.
When asked by Paxman if he had evidence he said: “Yes, evidence from the teachers who have called Quilliam directly.”
Interpal has been the subject of a number of investigations following allegations that it was linked to fundraising for terrorists. While a Charity Commission investigation found the group not guilty of this allegation, the United States Department of the Treasury named Interpal on a list of six individuals and five charities it alleged to have links to Hamas and terrorism. It described all of them as “Specially Designated Global Terrorists.”
The organisation has vociferously denied these claims, maintaining the aggressive PR-specialist law firm Carter Ruck to protect its reputation.