TV documentary exposes extremism in UK mosques

An undercover reporter joins Islamic worshippers and captures alarming sermons

mosque london 88 (photo credit: )
mosque london 88
(photo credit: )
A mosque in east London once praised by Prime Minister Tony Blair for its interfaith work is among a number of UK mosques at the center of controversy after a television documentary revealed they are being used to preach and incite hatred, bigotry and intolerance. "An army of Muslims will arise," a preacher announces. British Muslims must "dismantle" British democracy - they must "live like a state within a state until they are strong enough to take over," says another preacher. Secretly filmed during a 12-month investigation, "Undercover Mosques" contained sermons showing preachers proclaiming the supremacy of Islam, preaching hatred for Jews and Christians and for Muslims who do not follow their extreme beliefs and predicting an imminent jihad. Also among the mosques exposed by Channel Four's "Dispatches" program, which was broadcast Monday night, were London's central mosque, one in Birmingham and one in Regents Park. The investigation showed the influence of Wahabism, an extreme Saudi Arabian interpretation of Islam, throughout the UK. An undercover reporter joins Islamic worshippers and captures some of the alarming sermons with a message of religious bigotry and extremism being delivered by the Saudi-trained preachers. A number of mosques run by high-profile national organizations that claim to be dedicated to moderation and interfaith dialogue instead are shown with preachers condemning integration into British society, democracy and praising the Taliban for killing British soldiers. The program also showed how Saudi Arabian universities are recruiting young western Muslims to train in their extreme theology, who are then sent back to the UK to spread the teachings. It showed also how British Muslims can ask for fatwas, or religious rulings, direct from the top religious leader in Saudi Arabia, the Grand Mufti. Responding to the program, the Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, one of the institutions implicated in the investigation, commented that "It is extremely disappointing but not at all surprising that 'Dispatches' has chosen to portray Muslims in the worst possible light. 'Dispatches' has opted for sensationalism over substance with total disregard for peaceful community relations. "This so-called 'undercover' investigation merely panders to age-old anti-Muslim prejudices by employing the time-honored tradition of cherry picking statements and presenting them in the most inflammatory manner. It is disingenuous of 'Dispatches' to give the impression that they have infiltrated secret lectures/gatherings at Green Lane Masjid and then sell this as an 'undercover investigation' when every lecture, in its entirety, has always been available in the public domain. "Dispatches failed to adequately differentiate between the application of Islamic Shariah in an Islamic State and its application within a minority Muslim community in modern day Britain. This vital distinction would have been self-evident to any viewer had the relevant statements been presented in their correct context. 'Dispatches' further failed to distinguish between those individuals who work with us and those with no connection to our organization who expressed views that we may not agree with…We also unequivocally condemn all forms of extremism and terrorism, regardless of the perpetrators. We strongly encourage the upholding of the law and integration of Muslims within British society." Others in the Muslim community, however, spoke out against the extremism. "We are losing our children to extremists," said Haras Rafiq, of the Sufi Muslim Council, decrying the influence of Wahabism, which he said was seeking to overturn Islamic traditions of diversity and peaceful co-existence. "If this continues, you will have extremist mosques in every corner of the UK. You will not have moderate Muslims walking on our streets anymore," said Dr. Majeed Al Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Foundation. Extremist DVDs that disseminate beliefs about women are openly on sale and are exposed by secret filming. One of the DVDs teaches that women are "inferior" and "deficient." "Allah has created the woman deficient, her intellect is incomplete," the video says. Another talks about girls: "By the age of 10 if she doesn't wear a hijab, we hit her." There also is extreme hostility towards homosexuals, with one preacher calling homosexuality an abomination and suggesting they should be killed by throwing them off a cliff. In one of the DVDs, Sheikh Feiz is seen imitating the noise of a pig when referring to Jewish people and predicts the mass extermination of the Jews on a "day of judgment." In another, Sheikh Khalid Yasin dismisses equal rights for women as "foolishness" and accuses the Christian faith of deliberately spreading the AIDS virus around Africa: "The whole delusion of equality of women is foolishness... there is no such thing." "Missionaries from the World Health Organization and Christian groups went into Africa and inoculated people for diphtheria, malaria, yellow fever and they put in the medicine the AIDS virus," he added. Compared with Germany and France, the UK, has a poor record of deporting so-called "hate-preachers" and those who use inflammatory speeches that incite acts of terrorism against the UK and the US. One of the preachers seen in the program, however, is currently in prison after being convicted of soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred. Sheikh Abdullah el-Faisal influenced the July 7, 2005, London bombers and encouraged Muslims to attend training camps so they could wage jihad on the West. Hundreds of Muslims attended his lectures in mosques across the UK. He was jailed in 2003 for seven years but is due to be released imminently.