IHRC has been forced to write back to the Commission challenging its decision to appoint a non-Muslim interim manager to run the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) after it deemed the centre to have breached charity regulations.
The letter follows a reply to an initial communication with the Commission protesting its decision to appoint lawyer, Emma Moody, as interim manager. In that reply the Charity Commission states that it is within its rights to take this course of action in relation to the centre which is based in Maida Vale, London.
In May the Commission imposed an interim manager to run ICE following a politically motivated campaign against the centre by mainly secularist opponents of the Iranian government and hostile MP’s. Their objections centre on activities and statements made by a trustee and attendees of the centre supporting the Islamic Republic of Iran and its policies.
IHRC accuses the Commission of riding roughshod over Islamic principles in appointing someone from outside the faith to run what is effectively a Muslim place of worship that administers Islamic rites and services.
“We note that the decision to appoint a non-Muslim IM was made without consulting the trustees and without reference to Islamic rules and principles which require Muslim religious institutions to be headed by someone who professes the Islamic faith, is from the particular community it serves and adheres to the principles that they uphold. In the same way that a Muslim or Buddhist would not be appointed to run a church, it is outrageous to expect that Muslims can accept that a mosque and its attendant religious services are administered by someone from outside the faith,” writes IHRC.
The letter also excoriates the Commission for trying to socially engineer state compliant Muslims by imposing a manager who effectively holds a veto over any decisions that the Centre’s trustees make. Given the Charity Commission’s recent form in censoring Muslim charities for their political views, this amounts to trying to close off the space for political and social activity that is unacceptable to the government.
“In appointing an IM that will effectively screen what kind of discussions can take place you are effectively removing this right for ICE,” says the letter. “It is an attack on our freedom of expression with the aim of engineering an Islam that is alien to our community but palatable to the state.”
Since the appointment of an interim manager, weekly protests have been held outside the Islamic centre by its users and supporters. The letter closes by urging the Charity Commission to review its decision and consult with the Centre’s trustees to come up with a more mutually acceptable solution.
the full letter is available to read here.