The Islamic Center of England, a registered British religious charity in London, has been temporarily closed months after its Muslim trustees were removed by the UK aid watchdog, the Charity Commission, over what it called the trustees failure to comply with their legal duties and responsibilities and their failure to protect the charity's assets.
A charity is there to serve a group of people ... and it indeed has to address their needs, their aspiration [sic] from a religious or within the statuary of the charity. And that has been ignored. I mean, it's been ignored because what we are seeing now, appointing a secular non Muslim lawyer all the way in [sic] North of England to run and to sort of dictate what should happen in a mosque and in a charity. It really is outrageous.
Massoud Shadjareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission
It all started with a warning from the charity regulator over a vigil held here in 2020 for the revered Iranian military commander General Ghassem Soleimani, assassinated in a US drone attack in Baghdad, Iraq, in the same year. The man who spoke at the event says no laws were broken.
General Soleimani wasn't proscribed, or the organization he brought forth wasn't proscribed, and is still not prescribed.
He was sanctioned, financial sanction for issue of Syria. Now when somebody dies, and you talk about that person, you're not supporting financially the person; he is already dead.
You know, there is no, there is no issue of breaking the sanction.
It's outrageous that a Charity Commission, an organization which is supposed to support would actually become so political, that actually sort of misinterprets the law.
Massoud Shajareh, Islamic Human Rights Commission
In the early 2000s, the British government and the Charity Commission initiated a program calling on all UK mosques to become registered charities and by doing so, critics say, control what those Muslim institutions could or could not say outside of what is lawful.
We reached out to the authorities in London but they declined to comment.
We were told, unofficially, that the real reason behind the temporary closure of the center on the advice of the interim manager was something to do with insurance, which they hope shall be resolved, and the doors to the center reopened to the public, soon.