Muslim British lord receives apology for extremism slur

Mohamed Sheikh was said to have been deeply distressed by article that suggested he rubbed shoulders with extremists

Lord Sheikh, right, with his solicitor Callum Galbraith, outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, after the publisher of the MailOnline agreed to pay "substantial" damages to settle his libel claim over "highly defamatory allegations" about his attendance at a conference on Palestinian rights, Thursday July 30, 2020. ( Sam Tobn/PA via AP)
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A prominent British Muslim politician has received a public apology and substantial damages after a news website accused him of “rubbing shoulders” with extremists.

Mohamed Sheikh, who represents the ruling Conservative Party in the UK parliament’s upper house, the House of Lords, said that he had been deeply distressed by an August 2018 article as he had been involved for years in building interfaith understanding.

The article, published by MailOnline, cited his attendance at a conference in Tunisia in 2014 organised by the Centre for Strategic Studies for North Africa and attended by the foreign representative of Hamas, Osama Hamdan.

One of the meeting’s key objectives was to reconcile differences between Hamas and Fatah. It was also attended by former British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, ex-US attorney general Ramsey Clark and Tunisia’s political leadership.

Mr Sheikh spoke at the conference and called for lasting peace and a two-state solution with security for Israel and respect for the rights of the Palestinian people, in line with UK government policy.

But the gathering gained notoriety after Mr Corbyn later attended a wreath-laying ceremony at a cemetery that had memorials for those accused of having links to a terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympic Games.

Mr Corbyn said he was there to honour innocent victims of a 1985 Israeli airstrike. Mr Sheikh, a member of the upper house of parliament since 2006, said he had not visited the cemetery and had been unaware of the event until four years later.

Mr Sheikh said that his reputation had been fully vindicated. “I am not going to be deterred by what happened,” he said.