A London mosque which was due host an exhibition by an Israeli Holocaust museum has cancelled the event after pressure from the community.
The Yad Vashem exhibition was due to take place on Sunday at the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham centre in Golders Green which mainly serves the Iraqi Shia community. The exhibition was due to honour Muslim Albanians who helped, protected and rescued their Jewish neighbours during the Holocaust.
But controversy erupted when it became known that Yad Vashem is based in occupied Jerusalem and is partially financed by and supports the state of Israel. The museum is located near where the Deir Yasir massacre of Palestinians by Zionists took place.
Yesterday, a statement from the mosque was circulated on WhatsApp which said the centre didn’t know about the Israeli connection and cancelled it once that became clear.
The statement read: “In regards to the ‘Love your Neighbour Event’: This event was planned to be a local event with local partners to build relationships with the neighbours. The aim of the programme was to show Muslims in a good light by telling the story of Muslim Albanians who saved Jews in WW2.
“The Markaz did not know of the international connections some organisations had or of the political affiliations as throughout the process we were focused on our local relationships. Once that was made clear the event was cancelled. The Markaz is a community hub for the local community. The Markaz has no connections to any foreign government and stays well clear of anything political or perceived to be political.”
5Pillars understands that pressure was put on the centre from both within the UK and abroad after one of our articles was translated into Arabic and Farsi. We also understand that the event was cancelled after the headquarters of the Shia sect that the mosque follows was contacted with complaints.
After the news broke, several Zionists in the UK criticised the cancellation.
Rabbi Natan Levy, head of operations at Faith Forums for London, and one of the organisers behind the event, told the Jewish News: “We will continue to focus on building local relations even though this event has been cancelled. However, we are confident after reviewing plans there is goodwill to continue working with communities in Barnet.’
Levy called the exhibition “a powerful reminder that during the Jewish community’s darkest hour, the Muslim community in Albania were one of the few who did not stand by when the Nazis attempted to eradicate Jewish neighbours. It’s important to remember we have historically supported each other.”
Over the past year the mosque has gone to great lengths to ingratiate itself with the local Jewish community, most of whom are thought to be supporters of Israel.
Jews in Golders Green were split over the new mosque when it opened last year. Some expressed concerns over road congestion and parking, and others spouted Islamophobic rhetoric on social media platforms about the presence of an Islamic centre in the heart of the Jewish community.
More than 6,000 people signed a petition against plans to turn the former Golders Green Hippodrome into a mosque. The petitioners claimed it would cause “disruption”, citing traffic and pollution problems.
Others, however, including the Jewish community media, condemned opposition to the mosque and the Islamophobic rhetoric surrounding it.