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UK Charity Commission slammed for 'politically motivated' moves against Shia mosque in London

May 31, 2023 at 5:38 pm

Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, London [wikipedia]

Some 35 civil society organisations and individuals have protested to the Charity Commission after it imposed a non-Muslim interim manager to oversee the affairs of Islamic Centre of England in Maida Vale, London.

The move comes after a statutory inquiry was launched by the Commission in November over “serious governance concerns”.

In a letter denouncing the Commission’s actions, 35 civil society organisations and individuals   said the decision was taken following a politically motivated campaign against the Shia centre by mainly secularist opponents of the Iranian government and hostile MPs.

“It is wholly unfair that a Muslim charity is treated in this way due to the perception of it not conforming to Western foreign policy interests,” they said.

In a strongly worded letter to the Commission this week, the signatories accuse the charities watchdog of continuing a vendetta against Muslim charities that has seen dozens of them harassed in recent years.

Their objections centre on activities and statements made by a trustee and attendees of the centre supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran and its policies.

This, say the signatories, is an unwarranted intrusion into the Centre’s affairs. They say that it is not the business of the Charity Commission or any other state body to tell religious communities what they can say or believe in their places of worship.

They accuse the Charity Commission of acting heavy-handedly and failing to ensure the best interests of the centre and its congregation.

“We believe that this decision is politically motivated and serves the interests of Islamophobes who have been targeting this diverse community centre and place of worship,” says the letter. “Rather than remaining a neutral arbitrator and serving to address any genuine shortcomings that may exist, you have shown a biased approach and used punitive measures that unfairly penalize Muslim charities.”

Such measures, they warn, will result in the alienation of Muslims from their places of worship.

The signatories include MEMO Director Dr Daud Abdullah, Palestine Book Awards Judge Professor Nur Masalha, Managing Director of CAGE Muhammad Rabbani, Chair of the Jewish Network for Palestine David Cannon and Chair of the Convivencia Alliance Reverend Stephen Sizer, among others.

READ: UK security minister labels Iran-funded mosque a ‘vile threat’ to the country