A £2.2 million government grant awarded to Green Lane Masjid in Birmingham for a youth centre has been halted after right-wing broadcaster GB News “uncovered” mosque imams expressing normative Islamic views and referencing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The funding from the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport was suspended after the broadcaster alleged the mosque had links to “controversial and extremist speakers.”
The UK’s National Secular Society (NSS) also wrote to the government, accusing the mosque of espousing “misogynistic, homophobic and antisemitic views.”
Meanwhile, the mosque says that video clips have been taken out of context and have led to hate mail being received.
The NNS pointed to several videos filmed at the mosque and uploaded online over the years, including a 2019 lecture by Shaykh Abu Usamah At-Thahabi in which he said: “Don’t teach my kids homosexuality. Don’t teach my kid about lesbianism and other than that.”
He went on to say: “Now, if Mike, John and Bob, if they want to be homosexuals, as a Muslim I’m living here, I’m going to follow the law. I’m not going to do anything to them. But also while living here, my religion is Islam, and I don’t condone and I don’t support that lifestyle.”
The NSS reported that Green Lane Masjid imam Mustafa Abu Rayyan said of a wife: “She needs to also fulfil his [her husband’s] physical desires.” She should be “obedient and respectful to him.” He also said divorce is put in the hands of men because “men are meant to be less emotional.”
And in a video dated December 2022, Shaykh Abu Usamah At-Thahabi referenced the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” which details a global conspiracy by Jewish people to control the world. The Protocols have been condemned as a fabricated and discredited antisemitic text.
Shaykh Abu Usamah stated: “You know the Zionists, the Protocols of the Zionists, the Protocols. In one of those Protocols they said: ‘Let’s keep the people busy with sports and games. Let’s keep the people [distracted] with sports and games.’ And that’s why all those people make all that money.”
NSS Chief Executive Officer Stephen Evans said his organisation had urged “the government to ensure that taxpayers’ money is reserved for youth projects that promote inclusivity and are withheld from separatist groups that do just the opposite.”
The money was part of the government’s Youth Investment Fund and is managed by the Social Investment Business foundation (SIB). The youth centre was to provide 12-17 year olds with modern facilities including multifunctional open spaces, a fully-equipped teaching kitchen and a creative arts area with a digital tunnel installation.
Activities were to include programmes on leadership, critical thinking, arts and culture, staying safe online and how to empower marginalised communities.
In a statement, SIB said the mosque “works with a range of local and regional bodies that have been supportive of their project, including the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.” However the foundation has now paused the grant and is investigating the allegations.
Green Lane Masjid has already received a pre-construction grant worth just over £60,000, according to a spokesperson for SIB, but none of the main £2.2m approved funding has been distributed to the organisation.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport said due diligence checks were made prior to the funds being awarded.
In a statement, Green Lane Mosque said “misleading social media posts” are seeking “to undermine project of “game-changing” importance.”
It said: “Green Lane Mosque and Community Centre (GLMCC) has responded to hostile social media attacks by reiterating the ‘game-changing’ importance of the innovative Youth Futures Centre it is poised to build, and by expressing deep concern about how a short video clip is being used to discredit the youth centre project and the mosque…
“Taken selectively from a 45-minute lecture two years ago by one of the mosque’s imams, the highly misleading clip has been shared to try to discredit the mosque following the award of a Youth Investment Fund grant. The posting of the clip has resulted in hate mail and threats being directed at the mosque, leading officers from West Midlands Police (WMP) to visit the premises several times to show support. Management have advised staff and volunteers to be vigilant – particularly the imams and female staff.”
“False stories, malicious social media attacks and the torrent of hate they invite can put our staff and congregation in real danger,” said Sister Umm Talha, a spokesperson for the mosque. “We and the police need to take these attacks very seriously because we cannot forget that ten years ago an 82-year-old man was brutally murdered in an anti-Muslim hate crime while returning home from evening prayers at GLMCC. This latest round of social media abuse and hate mail will not deter us from the extensive youth and community work we do. We are grateful to the police for their concern and support at this worrying time.”
Sister Umm Talha said a video clip had been edited and taken out of context and that Muslim teachings are clear that it is not permissible to engage in practices that go against the laws of the land, whether in the UK or abroad.
Green Lane Mosque added: “The mosque rejects violent extremism and hate crime and actively encourages respect and tolerance between communities in its extensive work with many different organisations and faith groups in the West Midlands and beyond. The leadership of the mosque has begun an investigation of issues raised by recent media and social media coverage, pledging to address any legitimate concerns while also standing firm against misrepresentation, intolerance, and Islamophobia.”