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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 1 March 2021

London mosque under scrutiny over appearances by French and US speakers linked to extremism

East London Mosque hosted events featuring French charity with links to the Muslim Brotherhood

The East London Mosque in London's Whitechapel.
The East London Mosque in London's Whitechapel.

A London mosque has twice hosted events featuring a French charity closely tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a research report that exposed the latest controversial invites at the organisation.

The East London Mosque allowed Marwan Muhammad, director of charity Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), to speak at the mosque twice last year.

France moved to ban the group following the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty last year but organisers dissolved it and moved its reserves to other groups.

The mosque's December programme also featured a keynote speech from New York Imam, Siraj Wahhaj, who was named in court documents as being linked to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre.

In May, it hosted as guest speaker Abdur-Raheem McCarthy who in October claimed the beheadings at a church in Nice, France, were “nonsense” and “fake news”.

The CCIF has been described as an “Islamist pharmacy” by France’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

It has been closely linked to two grandsons of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hassan Al Banna, and both men have represented the group as speakers at various charitable functions.

Hani Ramadan is banned from France and his assets have been frozen. He is accused of having adopted behaviour and made comments "posing a serious threat to public order on French soil".

His brother Tariq, a suspended professor at Oxford University, is facing court proceeding over rape charges.

In November, Mr Muhammad starred in an event at the mosque called “Global Islamophobia: Roots, Context and Deconstruction” and was invited back in December.

The CCIF, which offered legal support to Muslims in discrimination cases, has a number of close ties to associations in Europe which have been affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. It denies any involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The London mosque’s hosting of Mr Muhammad comes as the charity announced it will now redeploy "a large part of its activities abroad".

"The assets of our association have been transferred to partner associations which will take over the fight against Islamophobia on a European scale," it said.

It is not known if the mosque is one of these associations.

In its Winter 2020 programme, Mr Wahhaj, appeared as a keynote speaker on December 26.

In 1995, the 68-year-old was a character witness for Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman who was convicted of masterminding the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing. Six people died in the terror attack and over a thousand more were injured.

He had told the trial that Abdel Rahman, an affiliate of Osama Bin Laden, was “a respected scholar”.

Mr Wahhaj was named on a list of 172 people by the 1995 prosecutor as an unindicted potential co-conspirator in the attack.

Three of his children are due to stand trial for allegedly running a terror training school for children in the south western US and planning deadly attacks.

The FBI say their targets included police, military officers and schools.

His son, two daughters, a daughter-in-law and a son-in-law were charged with 11 felony counts of child abuse in New Mexico in 2018.

The son, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, also was charged with custodial interference in the alleged abduction of his 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the Atlanta home of the child’s mother.

The raid in New Mexico, which was as a result of Mr Wahhaj informing the authorities, found 11 children in a distressed state.

Another host, Mr McCarthy was a speaker on controversial preacher Zakir Naik’s Peace TV which has been fined for radicalisation by the Office of Communications and shutdown. Naik is banned from the UK.

The US citizen posted a video on YouTube in October claiming the Nice terror attack was “fake news” adding: “Once again another fake terror attack to make Islam look bad.”

He spoke at the mosque last year and has repeatedly spoken at its events over the last three years.

East London Mosque told The National it vets all speakers.

“The East London Mosque maintains a robust speaker and vetting policy, and we do relevant due diligence to ensure that all speakers who are given a platform here adhere to our guidelines," it said.

Updated: January 13, 2021 09:52 PM

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