Dispatches: The Sisters Speak

Undeterred by the failed attempt by the West Midlands Police and the CPS to stitch them up, Channel 4’s Dispatches has been filming women preachers in study groups at the Regents’ Park Mosque:

In the new documentary, a female reporter infiltrated women’s study circles. In one, a preacher using the name Umm Amira told followers: “We are not going to be like animals . . . or to be like the homosexuals, God save us from that, you understand? We have to take the judgment, the judgment is to kill them.”

Umm Amira is recorded as saying converts from Islam should also be killed. “He is Muslim and he gets out of Islam, he doesn’t want any more. What are we going to do? We kill him, kill, kill.”

In another study circle, Umm Amira describes Christians as “vile”. Another preacher, Umm Saleem, tells her congregation not to take British citizenship or become friends with nonMuslims.

In the programme, Ahmed Al-Dubayan, the mosque’s director, said the women were not authorised by the mosque.

The preachers could not be reached this weekend, but Umm Saleem told Channel 4: “We are not blind followers of any government or any clerics.

We criticise other religions, just as other religions criticise Islam . . . we encourage integration into society.”

The Muslim Council of Britain, of which the mosque is an affiliate, said: “Some of the statements are deeply offensive . . . [but] it would be very wrong, and quite unfair, to smear the whole centre.”

The programme was made by ‘Sara Hassan’: although that is not her real name. Here is her account of what she found:

I was amazed at how many young British women seemed to find this version of the faith attractive. One young girl told me that when she first attended the circle, she was dressed in jeans and that she had many non-Muslim friends. She now loves only those that are around her – “other sisters in the circle” – and only engages with non-Muslims to try to convert them. Many of the sisters had the idea of living as a separate community – a concept alien to me and many other Muslims I know.

Regent’s Park Mosque has a major interfaith department, which arranges visits from the Government, the civil service, representatives of other religions and thousands of British school children a year.

I watched as an interfaith group was brought in to meet the mosque’s women’s circle for a civilised exchange. But when the interfaith group wasn’t there, the preacher attacked other faiths, and the very concept of interfaith dialogue.

One preacher said of Christians praying in a church: “What are these people doing in there, these things are so vile, what they say with their tongues is so vile and disgusting, it’s an abomination.” As for the concept of interfaith live-and-let-live: “This is false. It does not work. This concept is a lie, it is fake, and it is a farce.”

Regents Park Mosque is often described as the model of a moderate mosque. Indeed, the Dispatches reporter found that the sermons given on Fridays, by Egyptian imams, were inoffensive. These women were not authorised by the mosque, and one had applied for and been refused permission to teach there. Nevertheless, they were certainly holding prayer and study sessions there. Obviously, the mosque isn’t trying hard enough to ensure that it isn’t being used for the promotion of hatred of others, and vicious sectarianism.

A similar problem evidently exists in relation to the mosque bookshop, which is run on mosque premises, by a separate company. Last year, when extremist literature was found in its bookshop by Dispatches, the Mosque promised that it would be removed pending an investigation. However, the material is still apparently on sale in the bookshop.

The programme is being shown on Channel 4, at 8 pm tonight.