Campaigners call for theatre ban of Leo Muhammad (Published: 21 October 2008)

ANTI-FACIST campaigners are demanding that a comic be banned because of his association with the controversial group Nation of Islam.

Protesters want Leo Muhammad, one of the original members of The Real McCoy cast, to be banned from performing at the Hackney Empire theatre, in east London.

Formerly known as Leo Chester, he initially changed his name to Leo X after joining the Nation of Islam. Muhammad is starring in The Real McCoy Reconnected alongside fellow comedians Felix Dexter, Judith Jacob and Llewella Gideon.

Anti-facist campaigners have written to the theatre's management, Mayor of Hackney Jules Pipe, Hackney MP Diane Abbott, and all of the borough’s councillors, calling for Muhammad to be removed from the show because they believe he will use his stage performance as an opportunity to make anti Semitic and anti-white remarks.

Hackney resident Terry Fitzpatrick, an independent researcher and contributor to anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, said he had filed a formal complaint with the Empire's director, Simon Thomsett, asking him to make sure that Muhammad is not part of the performances.

He stated: “I am concerned that the performance will be used by Muhammad for the kind of racial rhetoric that he has come out with in the past. It would be unfortunate if young African-Caribbeans were to be exposed to his racial propaganda and I have emailed the director of the Empire to ask him to make

sure that no racially inflammatory material was used and not to allow him to appear at all." A spokeswoman for the production, however, defended the show, saying: “The show does not represent any individual's personal or religious beliefs and is not inflammatory or offensive in any way whatsoever to any other group or race.” A spokesman for the Empire added: “From the Hackney

Empire point of view it is a two-night performance that is not a Hackney Empire production, and Muhammad is not being given free rein to speak his own thoughts.”