The State police are verifying whether there are any “unwelcome foreigners” among certain overseas Arabic scholars scheduled to attend an international seminar on “The Language, Interpretations and Science of Koran” in the city on Thursday.

The University of Kerala's department of Arabic is hosting the seminar. Among the invitees is Dr. Yusuf-al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born Islamic scholar and television presenter who anchors the popular ‘Shariah and Life' programme on Al Jazeera channel. He has authored over 80 books on Islam.

The other foreign delegates scheduled to speak at the seminar include Tayab Al Kamali, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dubai; Abdullah Al Kanbashi, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arab Emirates, and Nazir Arif, chairman of the department of Islamic Studies, United Arab Emirates.

None arrived

Officials said none of the foreign guests had arrived in the city so far and hence they were not in a position to verify their passports and visas. The police and other Central agencies were trying to find out whether the Government of India had given sanction for the scholars to speak at the seminar.

The other invitees to the seminar planned to be held at the Chandrasekharan Nair police stadium include Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, Education Minister M.A. Baby, head of the royal family of the erstwhile Travancore Uthradam Tirunal Marthanda Varma, Kerala University Registrar K.M. Hashim and NRI businessman M.A. Yousaf Ali.

Aikya Vedi protest

Hindu Aikya Vedi State secretary R.V. Babu said his organisation would not allow Mr. Qaradawi to speak at the seminar. He alleged that Mr. Qaradawi was an apologist for Kashmir separatists and radical elements responsible for the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001. He demanded that the government prevent Mr. Qaradawi from entering the country.

Arabic department's stance

Head of the Department of Arabic, University of Kerala A. Nizarudeen told The Hindu that only scholars with a “secular outlook” were invited for the seminar. None of the invitees were in anyway linked to any radical group.

He said the department had asked the university Rs.1.94 lakh for conducting the seminar. The university sanctioned Rs.65,000. The police said they were verifying an allegation that the seminar's organisers had raised additional funds for the event from outside sources.

Around 150 delegates are expected to attend the event.