Muslim groups laud Tutu

Desmond Tutu has been praised for pulling out of the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - Muslim groups have praised Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu for pulling out of the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit because of fellow speaker Tony Blair.

Protests are still planned for Thursday when Blair is set to speak at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

Since agreeing to speak at the summit, Blair has been at the centre of controversy among several Muslim groups who have rallied for a citizen's arrest of the former British Prime Minister.

On Tuesday, Tutu said he could not appear alongside Blair because of the former prime minister's role in the invasion of Iraq.

Tutu said Blair's support of the Iraq war was morally indefensible and that it would not be appropriate to share a platform with the Brit.

Blair will face numerous Muslim representatives protesting at the convention centre this week, including the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement of South Africa (BDSSA) - which has thrown its full weight behind Tutu.

Spokesperson for the BDSSA, Mohammed Desai said, "Those that are protesting Tony Blair's presence in South Africa are celebrating the fact that Archbishop Desmond Tutu has taken this principled decision not to be associated with someone who has been, in many ways, one of the prime people behind several of our modern day wars."

Another group, Muslim political party Al Jama-ah, said Blair was complicit in the murder of thousands of people in Iraq and should be charged with war crimes in The Hague.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also added its voice to support Tutu's to decision.

It said Blair should answer for his role in the Iraq war.

The trade union federation's spokesperson, Bongani Masuku, said, "The bishop just did the honourable thing. He said leadership and morality are indivisible."

Attempts to arrest Blair have been made in several countries, including China, Dublin and Ireland.

Chess grandmaster and political activist Garry Kasparov is also expected to address delegates at the summit