Nicola Sturgeon seen in photo with Muslim cleric who compared gay marriage to bestiality

Nicola Sturgeon was today accused of sharing a platform with a controversial Iranian cleric who once compared gay marriage to bestiality.

The First Minister pulled out of appearing alongside Dr Mohammad Shomali at the the annual Peace and Unity conference in Glasgow in 2019 after his 2016 comments were revealed.

But according to the Jewish Chronicle today she had already appeared with him at the same event in 2018, when the Shia cleric was also among the speakers.

In 2016 Dr Shomali, a former UK representative of supreme Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei, published an essay based on a lecture given in 2007.

In the footnotes to a section on ‘moral principles’ he wrote: ‘A hundred years ago it would have been unthinkable for gay marriages to be sanctioned.

‘It makes us think about where the boundaries will be drawn on what is and is not acceptable. Perhaps a day will come where some will desire marriage with animals.’

Ms Sturgeon pictured with Dr Mohammad Shomali (far left) at the the annual Peace and Unity conference, in a picture on its Facebook page

Ms Sturgeon pictured with Dr Mohammad Shomali (far left) at the the annual Peace and Unity conference, in a picture on its Facebook page

Ms Sturgeon pictured with Dr Mohammad Shomali (far left) at the the annual Peace and Unity conference, in a picture on its Facebook page

He was in the audience (middle right) as she gave a speech to the event, but she pulled out the following year

He was in the audience (middle right) as she gave a speech to the event, but she pulled out the following year

He was in the audience (middle right) as she gave a speech to the event, but she pulled out the following year

A Scottish Government spokeswoman told the Jewish Chronicle: ‘Ministers are absolutely committed to a welcoming and inclusive country where everyone can celebrate their identity, regardless of background, culture, religion or sexual orientation.

‘Hate, prejudice or discrimination of any kind have no place in modern Scotland.’

The SNP has been approached for comment. 

Ms Sturgeon and Iain Livingstone, the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, had both been slated to appear at the 2019 event. 

But both pulled out citing diary clashes after being made aware of Dr Shomali’s previous comments on homosexuality.

Dr Shomali is the the resident Imam and director of the Islamic Centre of England. He is a graduate of the Islamic Seminaries of Qum in Iran, and has a PHD from the University of Manchester, according to its website.

It comes weeks after Twitter removed a slew of accounts that were promoting Scottish independence that were linked to the Iranian and Russian governments.

More than two dozen accounts were deleted for efforts to ‘manipulate the platform’, the firm said, There is no suggestion any of these accounts were linked to Scottish independence supporters or Dr Shomali. 

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