‘Mega-mosque’ succumbs to Islamophobic campaign

Controversial plans to build Europe’s biggest mosque close to the London Olympics site have been halted, The Times has learnt.

Tablighi Jamaat, the Islamic sect behind the proposal, is to be evicted this week from the East London site, where it has been operating illegally a temporary mosque and had planned a complex that would accommodate 12,000 worshippers.

The Muslim Council of Britain said that the group had fallen victim to “unfounded hostility and hysteria”.

However, another Muslim organisation last night welcomed the move. Minhaj-ul-Quran, which advises the Government on how to combat youth radicalisation, said that a mosque should be a “community effort” and not the initiative of one group with extremist links.

Times, 18 January 2010

Elsewhere in the online version of Times, Ruth Gledhill devotes a puff piece to Minhaj-ul-Quran.

MuQ, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is a much smaller, more liberal rival to Tablighi Jamaat. They run a mosque in Forest Gate where they have some local influence. When all the hysteria kicked off about the Tablighi so-called “mega-mosque”, MuQ set up a front organisation, Sunni Friends of Newham, and joined the campaign against it. They were cited by right-wing opponents of the Tablighi plan to show that Muslims were hostile to it too. Admittedly, after a while MuQ appeared to have thought better of forming an anti-Tablighi bloc with racists, and it looked like they had dropped their public opposition. But evidently not.

The reason why the Times is boosting MuQ, in my opinion, is that it’s part of the right-wing agenda of promoting Sufism as some sort of fluffy, harmless alternative to political Islam. In the case of MuQ this is particularly bizarre, as in Pakistan almost all tendencies within Islam (apart from the Tablighis, ironically enough) engage in party politics. MuQ have their own political party there, the Pakistan Awami Tehreek.