Lewisham Mosque and the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) have slammed media reporting after it was claimed that two Muslim scout leaders were suspended following an investigation into extremism.
Lewisham Mosque said it continued “to be appalled by the ever downward spiral in standard of some sections of the British press.”
And the MAB said the Telegraph had attempted “to smear MAB along with a number of British Muslim scouting groups.”
Earlier this week The Telegraph reported that a scout group run from Lewisham Mosque was being investigated by police after it was linked “to an Islamic extremist and a man associated with Holocaust denial.”
The article said that The Scout Association raised the alarm after the Telegraph found the Lewisham Islamic Centre had been segregating groups by gender, despite the Scout’s own commitment to mixed-sex groups.
The Telegraph said its investigation also found girls as young as five in the group have been encouraged to record videos advocating wearing the hijab, and that contrary to the Scouts own commitment to “British Values,” the group’s leader Ahammed Hussain has admitted to encouraging the members to be “Muslims first.”
Later The Telegraph also reported that the Scout Association had suspended a second volunteer and referred six more mosques to the police over extremism concerns.
The newspaper said that Hussain Al-Rawni, who runs the 304th Birmingham Scout Group on behalf of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), was placed under investigation after he was linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
It said the mosques had been referred to the police along with three others under investigation by the Scouts – the East London Mosque, which hosts the 8th East London LMC Scouts Group, the As-Suffa Institute, which hosts the 327th Birmingham Scout Group and the Cheadle Mosque hosts the 4th Heald Green CMA Scout Group.
In response the MAB said it was “proud of its efforts in supporting community and youth groups, and The Telegraph’s unsubstantiated claims are nothing more than dog-whistle Islamophobia.”
It added: “Whilst MAB consults with its solicitors and all parties concerned, it is interesting that the Telegraph continues to quote and refer to discredited, disreputable and totally unreliable sources such as the Henry Jackson Society who, among many other accusations, were expelled from Parliament due to lack of transparency. MAB takes such accusations seriously and reserves the right to reply to this poor and wholly inaccurate article, and will do so upon the conclusion of its consultations.”
Meanwhile, Lewisham Mosque said that the Lewisham Islamic Centre had not been suspended by The Scouts for any extremism fears or for any concerns regarding segregation “and neither have we been contacted by the Police.”
It added: “The inaccuracies in the Telegraph article written by Camilla Tominey are embarrassing for want of truth. For example, she makes the laughable claim that Ahammed Hussain worked at the Olive Tree School in Luton, when Mr Hussain has never visited Luton let alone worked there.
“In addition, The Times article written by Anna Behrmann makes the absurd claim that Asghar Bukhari was the founder of the Lewisham Islamic Centre. This was also foolishly repeated by Leigh NcNanus of the Daily Mail. Mr Bukhari, formerly of MPACUK we understand was born in 1970; the Centre was founded in or around 1975, which means that according to The Times and Daily Mail, Mr Bukhari was only 5 years of age at the time the Lewisham Islamic Centre was founded!…
“The Lewisham Islamic Centre has been involved with scouts work for the past decade. The Scouts is an old British tradition having been formed in the U.K. Today, Indonesia, the largest Muslim- populated country, has the largest Scouts membership in the world. We believe the Scouts are important in supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development so that they may play constructive roles in society, with a strong focus on the environment.
“As to the allegation that Ahammed Hussain informs children that they are Muslim first, we couldn’t agree more. The Telegraph’s assertion that identifying oneself as Muslim first is against ‘British Values’ is a direct insinuation that being Muslim contradicts being British. In addition and ironically, ‘duty to God’ being one of the foremost principles of Scouting – a point clearly overlooked, perhaps altogether alien, by the sensationalist authors in question – one must therefore question their ‘British Values…’
“The allegation that Ahammed Hussain is a Holocaust denier, again, is wholly untrue and a libellous statement. We have no doubt he will be successful in his upcoming defamation claims against the papers, InshaAllah (God willing). The Lewisham Islamic Centre has also filed its complaint with the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).
“Finally, we are not surprised to see the discredited and right wing organisation, the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), called upon to give backing to this libellous story given that credible, mainstream sources prefer edifying rather than flea-ridden company. The HJS continues to direct its efforts and questionable funding against the Lewisham Islamic Centre hoping to succeed in their objective of harming the Centre.”