Robert Kilroy-Silk set himself on a collision course with sections of the Muslim community today when he claimed that most religious doctrine practised in the UK’s mosques was “backward, tribal and from a medieval period”.
The controversial MEP and former talk-show host made the remarks in an interview with the BBC in which he called for legislation to allow Muslim women into UK mosques.
He was speaking as it was claimed that a majority of mosques in the UK – around 60% – do not admit women at all.
He was debating with Halima Hussein, of civil liberties group the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme when he said that most religious doctrine was “backward”.
Ms Hussein said: “It is an issue for the Muslim community that women are excluded from mosques and it is a complete disgrace.”
She added: “We don’t want to polarise the debate. We don’t want women to be forced into mosques, we want them to be given their place because we believe it is their right within the religious text and it is their right within Islam to enter mosques.
“We don’t want them to be forced in because of, you know, Western kind of values being imposed on mosques. We want the Islamic rights themselves to come forward.”
She added: “We want it to come from religious text, we want it to come from religious doctrine that women are involved in their local mosque because a mosque is a place of religious worship.”
Mr Kilroy-Silk replied: “Well, I wouldn’t rely on that. If you rely on that then you will be waiting for centuries because most of the religious doctrine that is practised in the mosques here is backward, tribal, from a medieval period. You can’t rely on that.”
He added: “I don’t believe in religions. I think all religions are fairy tales, I think they are evil and I don’t think Islam is one of the better ones, so I don’t want anybody to be forced to go to a mosque.
“What I do want is women to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. I don’t want them to be subservient to Muslim men.”