Finsbury Park Mosque has said that it was unaware that one of its trustees, Mohammed Sawalha, had been appointed to the Hamas political bureau.
A statement issued by the Mosque leadership praised Mr Sawalha for his contributions to community relations after he was targeted by a media campaign.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organisation by the British government although it is widely considered to be a legitimate resistance group within Palestine. It has also governed Gaza for the past 10 years.
“As an individual of impeccable character who served the institution and was appointed to the Board of Trustees with police support, the Mosque has never felt the need to research Mr Sawalha’s personal life nor to investigate his political views or standpoints,” the statement said.
It stressed that Finsbury Park Mosque is a British institution with absolutely no connections with any foreign entities whether religious, political or otherwise.
The statement was issued after Hamas released photos of a three-hour meeting in Russia in September with Vladimir Putin’s Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov.
Sawalha, who is one of Finsbury Park Mosque’s six trustees, was identified as part of Hamas’ political bureau in coverage of the “fruitful” visit to Moscow.
Palestinian-born Sawalha has long been involved in pro-Palestinian and Muslim community activism in Britain and abroad, including Gaza flotillas, and is the former president of both the Muslim Association of Britain and British Muslim Initiative.
The Mosque leadership hailed Sawalha’s efforts, saying “he has served the Board of Trustees, the Mosque and its local community diligently and exceptionally throughout the past 12 years.
“As such, Finsbury Park Mosque refutes any suggestion that it is responsible or in any way demonstrated a dereliction of its duty.
“Despite the recent media campaign against the Mosque, Finsbury Park Mosque is committed and determined to continue promoting community cohesion and to engage and foster the development of the local community.”
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