North London Central Mosque condemns continuing witch-hunt

Witch hunt against North London Central Mosque (NLCM) intensifies

North London Central Mosque press release, 11 August 2010

As we enter the blessed month of Ramadan the NLCM in Finsbury Park, Islington is working closely with its partners in Islington council, Islington police, our MP Jeremy Corbyn and community partners to respond to false and malicious allegations from unscrupulous journalists, bloggers and think-tanks who have embarked on a witch hunt against NLCM.

At the same time NCLM is working closely with the same partners to respond to the threat of further hate crimes following a recent incident in which a pig’s head was fixed to the entrance gates of the mosque. We note with some concern that the English Defence League and its allies vilify us as “extremists” and quote our critics in the media in support of their hate filled Islamophobic campaigns. For that reason – for the safety of the mosque and the safety of our community – we want to clear NLCM’s name of false and dangerous allegations.

This is the current situation on Wednesday 11 August the first day of Ramadan:

Witch hunt:  Andrew Gilligan (Daily Telegraph)[1] and Maajid Nawaz (Quilliam Foundation)[2] have repeated Khalid Mahmood’s false claim that alleged Al-Qaeda terrorists Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and/or Anwar al-Awlaki have been invited to attend and/or speak at North London Central Mosque (NLCM). The same false claims are being repeated and recycled on blogs including the Spectator,[3] Harry’s Place[4] and Conservative Home.[5]

Truth:  As we made clear in our last press release “neither Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nor Anwar al-Awlaki has been invited to attend NLCM since we took charge of the mosque in February 2005. We can be certain that neither man has been given a platform at the mosque in any form and in the case of Anwar al-Awlaki we can be confident that he would not have been able to enter the mosque without his presence being brought to our attention” (extract from our recent press statement).[6]

Witch hunt:  Andrew Gilligan repeats the false claim knowing that NLCM has categorically denied it (see our recent press statement) while Maajid Nawaaz repeats it either knowing it to be false or to be unconcerned with the facts.

Witch hunt:  Andrew Gilligan and Maajid Nawaaz knowingly or negligently increase risk of anti-Muslim hate crimes against our mosque and the local Muslim community.

Witch hunt:  Having read our very clear press statement (see extract above) Andrew Gilligan still asks if “in any form” “absolutely rules out a taped sermon?”

Truth:  We object strongly to this smear tactic and once again re-iterate that NLCM has not given a platform to either man – either in person, by tape or by any other means Andrew Gilligan cares to dream up.

Truth:  NLCM enjoys an outstanding record of success in tackling the kind of violent extremism that the mosque was associated with before we took charge on 5 February 2005. This success was celebrated on 5 February 2010 when past and present Metropolitan Police chiefs joined local MP Jeremy Corbyn, Islington Council leader Terry Stacey, former Transport Secretary Sadiq Khan MP, and NLCM’s many friends and partners in Islington at NLCM.[7]

Witch hunt:  Andrew Gilligan realises that Khalid Mahmood’s claim was made on a false premise but seeks to bolster it with more flimsy evidence, quoting from a new book called Terror Copspurportedly ghost written by a serving MPS counter-terrorism police officer who, according to Gilligan, claims “Abdulmutallab also saw Awlaki at the Finsbury Park mosque.”

Truth:  NLCM enjoys the trust of Metropolitan Police and totally rejects the allegation that this new book contains any credible evidence to support the false claims made against NLCM.

We therefore renew our call to Khalid Mahmood MP to retract his false claims. We also call on Andrew Gilligan and Maajid Nawaaz to retract their false claims. We again ask the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police to vindicate and acknowledge our sincere and effective efforts to tackle violent extremism in Finsbury Park and to help reduce the threat of Islamophobic attacks on mosques and Muslim communities in the UK.

We will continue to work closely with our partners in Islington throughout Ramadan to ensure that Finsbury Park remains a hostile environment for violent extremists of all kinds.

The trustees of NLCM
11 August, 2010