SUPPORT has been pouring in for an Imam who received death threats after he said Muslims needed to accept evolution - despite him since retracting the comments.

A total of 15 leading Muslim leaders have backed "the right to free speech" of Dr Usama Hasan, of the Masjid Madrasah al-Tawhid mosque in Leyton High Road, in a letter to The Guardian national newspaper.

And more than 1,140 people have joined a website in his support on social networking site Facebook.

However Dr Hasan has since withdrawn his comments and apologised for causing offence.

In an interview with the BBC he said: "I've retracted that attempt to reconcile evolution with the Qur'an, and if and when scholars are ready for a debate then we may go into it."

A video of Dr Hasan's lecture on website

The letter of support states: "As representatives of a broad spectrum of belief in the Muslim community, we support Usama Hasan's right to free speech and the right to foster a culture of intelligent and compassionate debate about Islam.

"Islam has a tradition of creative thinking and discussion which allows disagreement and, importantly, the tools to tackle social injustice.

"Intolerance violates the spirit of Islam and has to be condemned."

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