The ELM/LMC: Partners for Engagement?

As we discussed yesterday, Jonathan Freedland believes that when Harry’s Place publishes articles – by Muslim liberals – expressing concern about the extreme politics of the East London Mosque/London Muslim Centre, this constitutes “monstering“:

[T]here are plenty of Muslim moderates we could meet. Trouble is, most are rapidly deemed beyond the pale by our community’s self-appointed gatekeepers. Mohammad Aziz of the ELM, for one, has impressed Jewish groups with his openness and – confirming that the ELM is no monolith – attended Limmud. But he has been monstered by the anti-Islamist Harry’s Place blog as a dangerous radical. Are there more than a handful of Muslim leaders the watchdogs would deem acceptable? And would that handful be as unrepresentative of British Muslims as, say, Jewish radical anti-Zionists are of British Jews?

Jonathan Freedland also appears to be arguing that liberal Muslims – ones who oppose hate preaching against gays, women and Jews, for example – are as rare among Muslims generally as the tiny fringe of “radical anti-Zionists” who support terrorist movements with theocratic politics. That is quite a remarkable thing for Jonathan Freedland to be saying.

You should read about Mohammed Aziz here. You’ll see that, as well as being a trustee of the ELM and LMC, he has carried out work for the Department for Communities and Local Government. That work included a paper entitled Winning Hearts and Minds: Understanding and Engaging British Muslim Communities’, in which Aziz whitewashed the extremism of the ELM and LMC, promoted the Islamic Forum Europe – a group connected to the South Asian fascist party, Jamaat-e-Islami – and rubbished British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

I am also told that Mohammed Aziz also argued that the banned hate preacher, Zakir Naik, should be admitted to the United Kingdom.

What Jonathan Freedland probably doesn’t know is that Mohammed Aziz’s contract with the DCLG was not renewed. I’m also told that he was asked to repay money to the Department.

Jonathan Freedland is impressed by Mohammed Aziz’s moderation, because he turned up at Limmud. Well, of course he did. There was also a huge amount of similar “outreach” to Rainbow Hamlets which worked with the ELM/LMC over the “gay free zone” furore. The second that the ELM/LMC was out of the spotlight, that process of engagement ended, and the institution returned to hosting homophobic speakers:

But in April, it suddenly became hard to get a response from the Council of Mosques and the ELM. We realised that neither would talk publicly about their new stance on hate speech, or even, despite our strenuous efforts, send any formal representatives to the conference. A couple of community members were sent along to participate in their own right, but a chance was missed, goodwill dissipated and the trust that had been built up sorely tested.

We haven’t written about the ELM/LMC’s roster of speakers and events recently. Frankly, it had just got boring to keep listing the parade of hate preachers and extremists promoted by that institution, article after article. However, let’s have a look at last month’s crop of nutters.

First up, the following event was posted on the ELM’s Facebook wall in December:

East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre

We have a line up of special guests & prominent scholars coming to the mosque this weekend, starting with Jumuah Kutbah by Sheikh Dr Abdullah Bin Hadban Al Harthy followed by a lecture after Esha by Sheikh Saad Al Beraik & on Saturday we another lecture after Magrib by Sheikh Dr Ayed Bin Abdullah Al-Qarni. This is a great opportunity to meet and hear these well known sheikhs. Don’t forget to invite your friends and family.

Who is Saad Al Beraik (also spelled “Breik” and “Buraik”)?

Here’s the Saudi Information Agency:

Saudi Telethon Host Calls for Enslaving Jewish Women

The Saudi Information Agency has obtained a tape by prominent government official cleric Shaikh Saad Al-Buraik calling for enslaving Jewish women. The tape is called “a Monkey Desecrates a Mosque,” and was delivered in a Riyadh government mosque. The monkey refers to Jews.

Al-Buraik was the host of the two-day long telethon, which raised $109 million for Palestinians. Al-Buraik said on the tape that the money raised would go to Palestinian fighters, not the Palestinian Authority.

On the situation in the Palestinian areas he said:

Oh Believer, it’s a wish, as much as it is pains, but we have hopes that the situation in Palestine will explode. No one dies before their day. How many Muslims have died in Chechnya, Bosnia, Kashmir, and Kosovo!!

Is it too dear to us that among our honorable beloved die as martyrs? Their death dates were written before their birth. That they die as martyrs. “Say even if were at your home, those who will die will walk to their death.”

Which is a better choice, to de on your bed, or to die perseverant, fighting, not retreating. Which is better to suffer long before death many days, or taste death quickly?

Which is better to suffer a slow death, or die as a martyr in your way to heaven.  A death that you will be forgiven on the first drop of your blood.

When life became perishes we started to drink humiliation many times over.

Oh Palestinian Authority, don’t you see that you are tested once or twice a year? Then you don’t learned or repent.

Isn’t time yet to wage jihad, and call for holy war. Isn’t time that Muslim countries which normalized relations with the Jews to cancel everything that happened from Madrid to Oslo, and Why River, which forbids the supplying of weapons to Muslims in Palestine?

The agreements which canceled jihad, and disassociation from non-Muslims, should all be demolished.

It’s a call to close all embassies opened for the Jews in the land of Islam; it is call to end normalization with Israel.

What international resolution that the Jew respected, prepared by Christians.

On Jews and Christians he said:

People should know that Jews are backed by the Christians, and the battle that we are going through is not with Jews only, but also with those who believe that Allah is a third in a Trinity, and those who said that Jesus is the son of Allah, and Allah is Jesus, the son of Mary.

About America he said:

I am against America until this life ends, until the Day of Judgment;

I am against America even if the stone liquefies

My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, it would collapse.

She is the root of all evils, and wickedness on earth.

Who else implanted the tyrants in our land, who else nurtured oppression?

Oh Muslim Ummah don’t take the Jews and Christians as allies.

Jewish women as slaves he says:

Muslim Brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?

At home in Saudi Arabia, al-Breik says Saudi demonstrators for human rights should be killed.  These remarks are from a television programme about the revolution in Libya in March 2011:

Today some people are prepared to send messages on Twitter and Facebook, “Come on, let’s go down into the street [i.e. protest]”… and they do not know that they could be the first funeral on that day.  People must know that the interest of ‘preserving security’ comes before hundreds of skulls….

All of us believe – from the villages in the north to the heights in the south from sea to sea east to west – that we are content with the crushing of any skull that messes with security because of the saying of the Prophet: “Whoever comes to you and warns you, the community, about one of you then kill him…”

Further, TV producers who mock sexism in Saudi Arabia should be prosecuted:

Turning the tables on conservative Islamic beliefs, “Tash ma Tash” has again sparked huge laughs and huge controversy this month by depicting a Muslim woman not just married to four husbands, but also wanting to divorce one of them in order to marry someone else.

The episode brought cheers from Saudi women, but was met with rage by religious scholars, with one calling for the arrest of the show’s producers.

“I appeal to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi King Abdullah] to bring those [producers] and the channel that broadcasts this series to trial,” Sheikh Saad al-Buraik said on the Saudi religious channel, Daleel, hours after the episode was broadcast.

Perhaps the ELM/LMC were ignorant of the nature of this hate preacher? Nope. He was also invited to the ELM/LMC in March 2011, which caused a public controversy. They just don’t care.

Next up: a meeting on “reducing young offending” featuring Dilowar Hussain Khan the Executive Director East London Mosque Trust, and Azad Ali: the man who praised Al Qaeda’s Anwar Al Awlaki, supported the killing of British soldiers, sued when it was reported but lost the  libel action, declared his opposition to democracy if it conflicted with Sharia, and argued that Hamas’ Haniyah would make a great Caliph to guide the Ummah.

Later in December, the ELM/LMC and IFE hosted the Cordoba Institute: a Muslim Brotherhood front organisation which famously organised a public debate involving various controversial and problematic figures, including the leader of Hizb ut Tahrir, and one of the founders of Al Muhajiroun.

This meeting included another associate of the Cordoba Institute: Asim Qureshi of CagePrisoners. CagePrisoners are regular visitors at the ELM/LMC. Asim Qureshi famously addressed a Hizb ut Tahrir rally in which, in impassioned terms, he told his audience that they must “support the jihad of our brothers and sisters” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Kashmir. Qureshi also told British Muslim students that they had a legal right to  go to jihad.

How about homophobia?

In December, Yusuf Patel’s SREIslamic and the Association of Muslim Governors held the following event:


Who is making the decisions ?

Date: Saturday 17th December 2011
Time: 10am – 1pm
Venue: Seminar Room, London Muslim Centre (LMC),
82-92 Whitechapel Road, London E1 1JQ

All welcome and free entrance

Pre-registration required.

To register please contact:
Tel: 0845 652 4016

Yusuf Patel was until very recently a member of Hizb ut Tahrir whose brother formerly ran that party. He is now a supporter of the even more extreme hate preacherHaitham Al Haddad, and a fan of Muhammad “alhamdulillah I’m homophobic” Alshareef.

Specifically, what they are concerned about is the teaching of LGBT issues in Tower Hamlets schools. At a previous meeting, also at the ELM/LMC, Yusuf Patel expressed concern that homosexuality would be “normalised” in childrens’ minds and argued that teaching about it is “unacceptable”. He also expressed the view that homosexuality is an “unacceptable life style choice”, and parents should withdraw their children from lessons covering this subject. That meeting was backed by the ELM/LMC, address  Dilowar Hussain Khan the Executive Director East London Mosque Trust, and was reportedly supported by Councillor Ollur Rahman of Tower Hamlets Council, the council’s cabinet minister with special responsibility for children’s services.

There are just a few of the events held in December at the ELM/LMC. They show that the institution is wedded to extremism and the promotion of hatred at its highest levels.

As far as Jonathan Freedland is concerned, however, all of this ought to be overlooked. Why? Because he thinks that, as far as Muslims and Muslim institutions are concerned, this sort of thing is “representative”. I can tell him that it is not. There are few worse institutions in Britain than the ELM/LMC.


In fact, I’ve separately learned the shul was delighted to accept a £5,000 contribution from the mosque towards a new roof – made with no publicity – and was touched when the mosque halted building work to ensure they could daven undisturbed on Yom Kippur.

How lovely. Over the last five years, they’ve had £2.5 million in grants, £196,000 for “community cohesion” work and a further £28,500 for “preventing violent extremism”. So I expect they can afford £5,000.

Here’s a thought, Jonathan. Next time you want to “engage” with nice Mr Mohammed Aziz, you could ask him why he – as a trustee of the ELM/LMC – has done nothing to prevent the rolling promotion of hatred, bigotry and extremism that permeates the organisation and its executive.

That is the sort of “engagement” that the ELM/LMC badly needs.