Muslim volunteers at Grenfell Tower harassed by Britain First

Britain First leader, Paul Golding, posted an angry video claim he and his activists had been “abused” outside the East London Mosque. According to videos posted by the mosque, the right-wing populist organisation was harassing Muslims during a fundraiser to help those affected by the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, coinciding with mid-day prayers.

In the videos, Golding is shown to be blocking traffic and saying, “this used to be our area, it will be our area once again.”

The filmmaker who spent eight months inside the UK’s biggest mosque

Filmmakers were given eight months to document life at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel. Their aim was to capture the reality of life for Muslims who worship there, away from the news headlines about radicalisation. Key moments of Welcome to the Mosque were documented from the rituals of washing before Friday prayers to preparing Muslim couples for marriage.

“I was shocked to learn that over 7,000 people fill its walls to pray every Friday morning, and more than two million pass through its doors every year, ” says the man behind it, Robb Leech.

While filming, two major news stories broke which triggered fresh questions about the links between Islam and extremism: the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and the three London schoolgirls who left Britain to join Islamic State jihadists in Syria. Leech explores the responses to those events. He captures the frantic first phone call to the mosque from a distraught sister of one of the girls – and travels to Istanbul with the families to try to track them down.

Ultimately, Robb says the film has challenged his perceptions and hopes it will impact on others too “because at the moment, the word ‘extremism’ comes up along with their name and immediately people just assume they are radicalising people.”

“I found a fascinating and intriguing world that sometimes surprised me and sometimes shocked me but ultimately I think my perspective was changed.”

And Robb says this film “is fair, because it’s a film about a mosque and the people who go to the mosque”.

UK Muslim leader Chowdhury Mueen Uddin sentenced to death in Bangladesh

November 3, 2013

 

A Special Court in Dhaka has sentenced two former leaders of the al-Badr killing squad to death for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971. Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, a Muslim leader based in London, and Ashrafuzzaman Khan, based in the US, were sentenced in absentia after the court found that they were involved in the abduction and murders of 18 people – nine Dhaka University teachers, six journalists and three physicians – in December 1971.

Prosecutor Sahidur Rahman told The Independent that he hoped that attempts by the Bangladesh government to bring the pair back to Bangladesh for punishment would be successful.

“Ashraf is a US citizen now, residing in Jamaica of New York City,” said Rahman. He is also involved with the Islamic Circle of North America.

During the trial, the prosecution had also informed the Court that Mueen, besides being the former chairman of the East London Mosque, he was also formerly Director of the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the UK’s National Health Service, according to his website.

 

The Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/uk-muslim-leader-chowdhury-mueen-uddin-sentenced-to-death-in-bangladesh-8919895.html

In praise of … the Maryam Centre

A month after a mosque in north London was destroyed in an arson attack, it is heartening to see that East London Mosque in Whitechapel is expanding. When it gets fully under way, the Maryam Centre will offer a range of projects and services for women in the community – a prayer hall, counselling, and a gym – as well as house a school and a visitor centre for non-Muslims. The centre will make the mosque very much more than just a provider of religious services. With 25,000 worshipers attending a week, and that is outside Ramadan, the mosque has already become a key hub for the community. Its original purpose in 1910 was as a place of worship for sailors and travellers who came to Tower Hamlets. It took most of the last century to establish a permanent base in Whitechapel. Today it is the living and growing answer to those on the extreme right who vilify mosques as the home of fundamentalists.

English Defence League leaders arrested on way to Woolwich

Two English Defence League leaders arrested as they attempted to visit the spot where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered have been released on bail. EDL leader Tommy Robinson and his co-leader Kevin Carroll were detained by police on suspicion of obstructing officers outside Aldgate East station in east London as they attempted to stage what they claimed was a charity walk to Woolwich Barracks via the East London Mosque. Scotland Yard said it had imposed conditions due to fears that both the march and gathering would “result in serious public disorder and serious disruption to the life of the community” and a breach of the conditions would be a criminal offence. The police said attempts had been made to discuss the march and gathering with the EDL and offered it two alternative routes that avoided Tower Hamlets, home to the East London Mosque.

East London Mosque opens doors to non-Muslims

A Mosque in East London is opening its doors to non-Muslims in an attempt to promote a better understanding of Islam and what goes on inside the building. Members of the local community are invited to take a look inside the mosque, observe prayers and ask questions about the religion. In response to a video appearing online earlier this year showing men shouting homophobic abuse at another man in east London, telling him to “get out of here” as “it is a Muslim area”, the East London Mosque condemned the actions of the self-styled ‘Muslim patrol’. “We felt like because this was an issue right on our doorstep we had to speak out about that one.” One of the members of the mosque said that “Some people want to ask simple questions like whether as non-Muslims they’re allowed to come in the mosque. Others make pretty broad requests like ‘what is Islam?“. According to the report an increasing number of mosques were holding similar events. Following the influence of groups like the English Defence League wanting to vilify mosques saying they are full of fundamentalists who don’t want to engage with mainstream society the members of the mosque feel they have a role to play in changing that view.

 

Muslim speaks out against Muslim ‘vigilantes’

27 January 2013

 

Last week East London witnessed so-called “vigilante patrols” by a handful of “radical Muslim” men targeting women, gays and public drinkers. When the videos of harassment became available on YouTube, it caused widespread public outrage and the police launched an investigation and have arrested six people who were then bailed out.

 

According to the Independent, locals say the “patrols” have failed to spark the kind of inter-communal animosity they were hoping to achieve with their attacks. Yet the Muslim groups strongly condemned the incident calling it “abhorrent”.

Shaikh Shams Ad Duha, principle of  the Ebrahim College in East London, in a sermon at East London Mosque which was placed on YouTube and has been viewed 20,000 times in less than a week, lambasted the men in the video for being “complete bigots” who were contravening Islamic law, not enforcing it.

Muslim Council of Britain and other Muslim organizations have also condemned the “vigilantes”.

Controversial Saudi cleric Sheikh al-Sudais touring the UK

Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais can normally be seen leading prayers at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, but this week he’s been charming the crowds of Banbury, Blackburn and Birmingham, where he attended a conference organised by the Ahlul Hadeeth Society called Unity of God: A Message Of Peace And Security. This evening, he will speak at the East London Mosque.

Rewind some years and he was describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs and worshippers of false gods”, Christians as “cross-worshippers” and Hindus as “idol worshippers”. His views were highlighted in a BBC Panorama programme on the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Following the broadcast, the MCB sent letters of complaint to the corporation about the accuracy and editing of the show, queries that were dealt with at length by Panorama editor Mike Robinson.

Between the earlier media reports and the programme featuring the sheikh’s comments, al-Sudais led a sermon at the East London Mosque that was attended by the Racial Equality Minister Fiona McTaggart; the Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks sent a message of support. One would have thought that these two figures given their respective roles, would have been aware of who the sheikh was and what his opinions were.