Khalid Mahmood’s False Claims Increase Risk of Islamophobic Attacks on NLCM

North London Central Mosque

Press Release

Khalid Mahmood’s False Claims Increase

Risk of Islamophobic Attacks on

North London Central Mosque

We wish to put the record straight following false claims made by Khalid

Mahmood MP for Birmingham Perry Bar, a former trustee of North London

Central Mosque (NLCM). Until this week we intended to remain silent in the face

of his provocative and ill-informed statements in the media but now we must

speak out to defend the good name of our mosque, our community and our

partners in Islington - Jeremy Corbyn, our MP, politicians and officials, police

officers and faith and community leaders.

Equally, important, we must highlight the increased risk of Islamophobic attacks

that we now face as a result of Khalid’s Mahmood’s false claims and the climate

of anti-Muslim sentiment he is helping to stir up against NLCM.

A dignified silence was our preferred response so why this change of policy now?

On Monday (19 July) Khalid Mahmood took his false claims against NLCM to a

new and dangerous level. He repeated a false claim linking us to suspected Al-

Qaeda terrorists, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and Anwar al-Awlaki.

Later that night the mosque was attacked and violated by two men who were

captured on our CCTV cameras sticking a pig’s head on the mosque gates. We

have every confidence that Islington police will do their utmost to identify and

bring to justice the two men seen photographing themselves proudly in front of

their gross insult to our mosque and to our religion which we hold dear. Then it

will possible to investigate the motivation for this despicable but all too common

hate-crime.

Like many other mosque’s in the UK we face an ongoing threat of Islamophobic

hate-crimes of this kind that are exacerbated by claims such as Khalid

Mahmood’s that falsely link us to Al-Qaeda.

That risk is probably greater at NLCM because for so many years the name

‘Finsbury Park Mosque’ (NLCM is our official name) was accurately associated

with the convicted extremist Abu Hamza and during his control – which coincides

with some of Khalid Mahmood’s tenure as trustee - the mosque was regularly

targeted by violent extremist thugs from the far right. If Khalid Mahmood had paid

attention then he would realise now that his ill-informed comments are likely to

prompt the English Defence League and associated Islamophobes to target

NLCM once again and in the way they have targeted other mosques deemed to

be ‘extremist’ or ‘terrorist’ in recent months.

Since we took control of the mosque from Abu Hamza’s supporters in February

2005 the mosque has been firebombed and the recipient of hate mail that is

motivated by anti-Muslim hatred. If Khalid Mahmood had ever shown any interest

in NLCM affairs when he was a trustee he would be aware of this and the risk of

inflaming hostility by linking us to suspected Al-Qaeda terrorists now.

Instead, in truth, Khalid Mahmood was never more than a ghost trustee, never

present when he was needed, least of all when the mosque was in the hands of

Abu Hamza’s supporters and the risk of support for Al-Qaeda was real.

Now, disingenuously, Khalid Mahmood claims to seek “reassurances” from the

Home Secretary “about the extent and nature of “deradicalisation” of NLCM “after

the expulsion of Abu Hamza and his crew [in February 2005].”

His claims are made in the Spectator:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/6153943/mahmood-seeks-answers.thtml

And embroidered on Harry’s Place:

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/07/20/finsbury-park-mosque-abdulmutalab-awlakilink/

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/07/20/finsbury-park-mosque-abdulmutalab-awlaki-link/

If Khalid Mahmood had ever attended a trustee’s meeting at NLCM he would

know that NLCM enjoyed a proud record of success for the period 2005 – 2010

in tackling the legacy of violent extremism inherited from Abu Hamza and his

supporters.

That success was celebrated at a fifth anniversary event attended by our many

partners on 5 February 2010:

http://nlcentralmosque.com/images/press_release/Press_release150220.pdf

Instead Khalid Mahmood failed to attend trustee meetings and was dismissed in

accordance with NLCM trust regulations as approved by the Charity

Commission.

This is an important point and a chance to put the record straight because Khalid

Mahmood falsely claims he resigned as NLCM trustee. In fact, his tenure as

trustee can be summarised as a consistent failure to do anything to help the

mosque and its local community.

According to the Spectator, Khalid Mahmood, has put down a significant question

for Home Secretary, Theresa May:

'Mr Khalid Mahmood (Birmingham, Perry Barr): To ask the Secretary of State for

the Home Department, what recent reports she has received on (a)

investigations undertaken by members of the US Congress and (b) materials

held by the US Department of Justice on the attendance of Umar Farouk

Abdulmutallab at any events addressed by Anwar al-Awlaki at North London

Central Mosque since 2005; and what assessment her Department has made of

the role of the North London Central Mosque in deradicalisation in the content of

her Department's review of each strand of the Prevent stategy.'

The Spectator report continues, “Mahmood quotes from a recent report on

National Public Radio in the US on the Christmas Day bomber:

'Intelligence officials say the mosque figures in the Abdulumttaalab case, too. In

tracing the path of Abdulmutallab, intelligence officials say he apparently

attended a sermon at the Finsbury Park Mosque in the fall of 2006 or 2007. He

went to listen to the man who would become his mentor and perhaps his al-

Qaida recruiter: Awlaki.'

According to The Spectator report “Mahmood notes how Peter King, the ranking

member of the Homeland Security Committee has requested more information

on this question in a letter to Eric Holder, the US attorney general”.

In repeating this false claim Khalid Mahmood reveals the same laziness that

characterised his role as NLCM trustee. If he had bothered to listen to the news

report in question he would have released straight away that the reporter

hopelessly confuses NLCM with another mosque in London. Rather comically,

the US reporter’s lack of basic London geography can be heard in the

introduction to her report:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123894237

We hasten to add that allegations against another mosque in London are likely to

be robustly and properly defended by the trustees in question. We certainly do

not wish to give such claims any credence. Our purpose is to show that claims

repeated by Khalid Mahmood that suspected Al-Qaeda, Umar Farouk

Abdulmutallab attended a talk by Anwar al-Awlaki at NLCM in the fall of 2006 or

2007 do not relate to NLCM at all.

Let us be perfectly clear: neither Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab nor Anwar al-

Awlaki has ever 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 and we do not think that he visited the

UK between 2006 and 2007 because he was in jail as mentioned before.

In his eagerness to denigrate NLCM Khalid Mahmood has repeated an American

reporter’s mistake based on a failure to grasp basic London geography. It would

be uncharitable but not unreasonable to suggest that Khalid Mahmood does not

know whereabouts in London Finsbury Park is any more than the US reporter. It

is certainly difficult to find anyone who has ever seen him in Finsbury Park. In

that respect at least he has something in common with Anwar al-Awlaki and

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Khalid Mahmood needs to understand that his false claims may have the

unintended consequence of boosting support for violent extremism against

NLCM which in turn will fuel violent extremism of the kind that used to be

fostered within the mosque when Abu Hamza’s supporters were in charge.

We therefore call on Khalid Mahmood to retract his false claims and call on 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

beyond and to help reduce the threat of Islamophobic attacks on mosques and

Muslim communities in the UK.

In the meantime we will continue to work closely with our partners in Islington to

ensure that Finsbury Park remains a hostile environment for violent extremists of

both kinds.

North London Central Mosque

London 22/07/2010

 

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