London mosque hosts Israeli museum exhibition despite complaints

Pic: Jewish News

A London mosque has gone ahead with an Israeli Holocaust exhibition in the presence of several pro-Prevent figures and an Israeli embassy official.

5Pillars understands that the chairman of Eton Road Mosque, Bashir Chaudhry, received many complaints about the exhibition in Ilford on Sunday from Muslims who felt that all Israeli institutions should be boycotted in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, the Jewish News reported that 70 people attended the event, “defying a small protest outside.”

Among the attendees were the controversial Commissioner for Countering Extremism Sara Khan, Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters, Vivian Aisen, Director of Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy, and pro Israel MP Mike Gapes.

Addressing the audience, Bashir Chaudhry said: “When I was asked to host this event I said we certainly shall support it and we shall learn something from it. This exhibition opened my eyes to how Jews and Muslims worked together in that difficult time.

“For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had emails and calls saying I shouldn’t be hosting this event here in a Muslim centre. I said to them: no, you are wrong. No protest was going to stop us and we were determined that whatever happens we would go ahead with the event.”

The exhibition demonstrated how Muslim Albanians protected their Jewish citizens, but also offered sanctuary to Jewish refugees who had arrived in Albania and faced deportation to concentration camps.

Speaking to the Jewish News, Yusuf Patel, Community Engagement Coordinator at Redbridge Council, added: “Here today, we are an example of standing strong and not allowing certain sections of some communities to disrupt this event. Our message to those extremists is: this is just the beginning.”

And Mike Gapes MP told the Jewish News: “I’m delighted that Yad Vashem’s exhibition has come here. My message to any protesters is that you’re not going to stop us: the values of this country and the co-operation of people of all faiths will continue and will succeed.”

On Friday Bashir Chaudhry told 5Pillars that he would have to consult with colleagues about hosting the event because he did not know about the Israeli institution mounting the exhibition.

After the Israeli connections to the event were explained to him, Mr Chaudhry said: “This was not explained to me, I was just told it was about Albanian Muslims who helped the Jews during the Second World War. Every Muslim has a strong sympathy with the Palestinian cause, there’s no doubt about that. I have lobbied for the Palestinians myself. But no one is doing anything about the situation there. So-called Muslim countries in the Muslim world are dealing behind closed doors with Israel, including Saudi Arabia.

“But I’ve just heard about this background so now I will have to consult with my colleagues about whether to cancel it or not.”

The Yad Vashem exhibition was due to take place recently at the Hussainiyat Al-Rasool Al-Adham centre in Golders Green to honour Muslim Albanians who helped, protected and rescued their Jewish neighbours during the Holocaust.

But the event was cancelled 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.

Zionist media claimed the mosque had been the victims of intimidation and threats, without providing any evidence for this.

In December the Eton Road Mosque invited members of the British Army, Pakistani and Israeli diplomats for an interfaith event to celebrate the Mawlid, Christmas and Chanukah together.

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