The Islamic Centre of England has suspended all activities until “further notice”.
A notice affixed to the Centre’s locked gates reads: “After receiving the concerns of the community and for their safety, we are saddened to inform you that all upcoming programmes, including prayers, have been suspended until further notice.”
Solicitor Emma Moody has reportedly been tasked with overseeing the charity and undertaking a review of its governance and administration. The move follows numerous complaints against leaders at the Centre as a result of several concerning reports of inflammatory rhetoric towards Jews.
In March, Abbas Abedi, the Deputy Director of the Centre, was accused of making incendiary claims about Jews and Zionism in a series of speeches, which he denies.
According to the JC, Mr Abedi gave a speech in Urdu in 2021, in which he said: “Jews took revenge on Muslims and tens of thousands of Palestinians were made homeless, their kids were slaughtered, women raped, thousands violated, kids killed… the Zionist lobby made this possible, it became possible due to American and UK help.”
In a separate speech, he is alleged to have said that Zionism was responsible for the creation of ISIS.
Mr Abedi reportedly claimed that “All people who are free believe that Zionism is the mother of terrorism…Zionism is the mother of ISIS. Don’t say ‘Islamic State’. Say ‘Israeli State in Iraq and the Levant’.”
The Deputy Director refused to accept the accusations, asserting that “Some politically motivated groups are trying to drag the charity into their political disputes.” He also reportedly suggested that “misinterpreting my old speeches” was a restriction of his liberty.
Also in March, it was reported that a cleric in Manchester, who is listed as a speaker at the Centre, gave a speech in which he praised an Iranian terror chief at an event where the audience chanted “Death to Israel”.
Cleric Farrokh Sekaleshfar was said to have appeared as a keynote speaker at a memorial event for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) terrorist mastermind, Qasem Soleimani, who was assassinated by the United States in 2020.
During the event in Qom, Iran, the audience is reported to have chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to England”. Mr Sekaleshfar is also reported to have described Soleimani as a “martyr” in a separate speech in 2021.
We have provided the Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and the Security Minister, Tom Tugendhat, and all MPs with a dossier on the IRGC, detailing its horrendous record of antisemitism and violence against Jewish people.
In light of the mounting pressure to proscribe the IRGC, there have been calls made to close the Centre, which is located just minutes from several synagogues in the area. The Centre is believed to serve as an office for Iran’s Supreme Leader, and its Director, Seyed Hashem Moosavi, is understood to have been appointed by the regime as a mid-ranking cleric.
The institution also aired an Iranian propaganda film, posted on IRGC websites, featuring children singing a song that referenced an apocalyptic myth about murdering Jews, according to the JC. The Islamic Centre denied that its “local version of the song” carried the same meaning. It also has a history of publishing inflammatory rhetoric about Zionists and extolled Iranian support for the antisemitic terror groups Hamas and Hizballah.
Charity Commission Chairman, Orlando Fraser KC, said: “We need to act robustly where serious concerns about a charity exist, so that the public, and the charity sector itself, can have confidence in what it means to have charitable status. The appointment of an interim manager will help the Commission ensure the charity’s governance is restored and is improved to a better standard.”
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