George Galloway denies converting to Islam

GEORGE Galloway converted to Islam during a ceremony more than ten years ago, according to Jemima Khan.

• Bradford West MP says claim he converted to Islam is “totally untrue”

• Jemima Khan called Galloway a Muslim in an article for the New Statesman

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• A letter circulated, apparently on Galloway’s behalf, stated: “God knows who is a Muslim”

The socialite and ex-wife of Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan has claimed she knows someone who was at the conversion ceremony at a hotel in Kilburn in London. The claims, made in an article published in the New Statesman, prompted an angry reaction from the Respect MP.

Mr Galloway dismissed the reports as “deliberate falsehoods” and as “categorically untrue” and said he had “never attended any such ceremony”.

But he failed to deny he had changed his lifelong Catholic faith and was now a Muslim, while a spokesman for the Dundee-born politician said the MP’s only public stance on religion is that “he believes in God”.

The report about Mr Galloway’s conversion to Islam comes after his return to the House of Commons following a landslide by-election victory in Bradford West – a constituency with a large Muslim population.

Rediscovered faith

Mr Galloway, who was a Glasgow MP for 18 years, used an interview with the Scottish Catholic Observer during his failed bid to win election as an MSP for the city last year to talk about his “rediscovered faith” and how he had been a “defender of the pro-life position” on abortion rights – a view strongly associated with Catholicism.

However, the Respect party MP, when asked in the New Statesman interview about whether he had converted to Islam, was reported to have said: “I can’t answer that. God knows who is a Muslim.”

On Thursday, Mr Galloway attacked the claims by Ms Khan that he had attended the conversion ceremony alongside members of the Muslim Association of Britain as part of a series of “schoolgirl howlers” made by the journalist.

“The opening paragraph of Jemima Khan’s piece in the New Statesman [referring to an alleged conversion ceremony] is totally untrue. Moreover I told her it was fallacious when she put it to me. I have never attended any such ceremony in Kilburn, Karachi or Kathmandu. It is simply and categorically untrue.

“Apart from the deliberate falsehoods in the article, it is littered with schoolgirl howlers which would earn banishment from a first-year journalism class.”

‘Muslim support doesn’t mean he has converted to Islam’

Mr Galloway, who is strongly associated with campaigns for Palestinian human rights, used his Bradford West by-election victory speech to say “All praise to Allah”.

Dr Omer El-Hamdoon, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, said that the group which has campaigned alongside Mr Galloway against the war in Iraq had “good links” with the Scottish-born MP.

He said: “Some of his actions may make someone think that he’s a Muslim, but just because he supports causes that are close to the hearts of Muslims doesn’t mean he has converted to Islam.”

Mr Galloway, who recently married his fourth wife in what was reported as a Muslim ceremony in Amsterdam, last night threatened legal action against the New Statesman.

The magazine issued a statement of its own saying: “It is notable that Galloway does not deny being a Muslim convert”.