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UK: Iran-funded mosque under investigation over 'serious governance concerns'

Islamic Centre of England, Maida Vale [Wikipedia]
Islamic Centre of England, Maida Vale [Wikipedia]

One of Britain's leading Shia mosques, the Islamic Centre of England in London's Maida Vale, is undergoing a statutory inquiry launched by the Charity Commission over "serious governance concerns" and failure to comply with previous rulings.

The centre's charitable purposes include "advancing the religion of Islam and education, and the provision of social and religious welfare facilities." It is understood to have close links with the Iranian government.

According to a press release by the commission published on Tuesday, the regulator's decision follows "extensive engagement with the charity over recent years, which has included issuing the charity with an Official Warning."

This warning, explained the commission, followed two events held at the charity's premises in 2020 that eulogised Major General Qasem Soleimani who was subject to sanctions by the British government. At a vigil following the assassination of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps general in a US drone strike on 3 January 2020, he was apparently described as a "martyr".

A follow-up case last year concluded that the charity was only partially compliant with the actions required by the official warning and identified further regulatory concerns. "We have therefore opened a statutory inquiry into the charity," said the commission.

Last month the commission revealed that it was "assessing" a speech made by the centre's Director, Seyed Moosavi, after he referred to Iranian anti-government protestors as "soldiers of Satan". Protestors were on the streets of Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in September while in the custody of so-called "morality" police.

The Islamic Centre of England has been a frequent target of acts of vandalism by members of the British Iranian diaspora opposed to the Islamic Republic. Most recently, police had to intervene on Sunday in clashes between anti-Iran protestors and local Shia Muslims defending the mosque.

READ: Iran arrests British-Iranian citizen for communicating with foreign news channels 

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