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British Imam Removed as Government Adviser After Supporting Calls for Movie Ban

June 23rd, 2022 14:57

British media is report­ing promi­nent Leeds imam Qari Asim has been dis­missed from his post as a gov­ern­men­tal advis­er on Anti-Mus­lim Hatred after back­ing calls to ban a film about the Prophet Mohammed’s daugh­ter. Accord­ing to the BBC report:

June 13. 2022 Mr Asim, imam of the Makkah Masjid mosque in Leeds, was told his appoint­ment as deputy chair of the gov­ern­men­t’s Anti-Mus­lim Hatred Work­ing Group had to end in a let­ter from the Depart­ment of Lev­el­ling Up, Hous­ing & Com­mu­ni­ties. It said: “Your recent sup­port for a cam­paign to lim­it free expres­sion — a cam­paign which has itself encour­aged com­mu­nal ten­sions — means it is no longer appro­pri­ate for you to con­tin­ue your work with gov­ern­ment in roles designed to pro­mote com­mu­ni­ty harmony.”

Read the rest here.

The con­tro­ver­sy cen­ters on “The Lady of Heav­en,” a new film by Shia Mus­lim cler­ic Sheikh Yass­er al-Habib, described as the first film depict­ing the life and death of the Prophet Mohammed’s daugh­ter Fati­ma. Strict reli­gious bans on the depic­tion of the Prophet have led to protests out­side cin­e­mas in sev­er­al British cities which called the film “blas­phe­mous” and “racist.” More than 133,000 peo­ple had signed a peti­tion against the movie, lead­ing to some British cin­e­mas pulling screen­ings from their sched­ules. Most Sun­ni Mus­lims believe depic­tions of Islam­ic prophets should be pro­hib­it­ed, where­as Shia Islam typ­i­cal­ly accepts such depic­tions if they are done respect­ful­ly. Asim was said to have adver­tised a protest against the film in Leeds, giv­ing details of its tim­ing and loca­tion. Sup­port­ing such a cam­paign to lim­it free expres­sion pre­clud­ed Asim from con­tin­u­ing, the gov­ern­ment said in a  let­ter to him cit­ed by the BBC.

Asim, who in 2012 was appoint­ed Mem­ber of the British Empire (MBE) for build­ing “com­mu­ni­ty har­mo­ny” in Leeds, sub­se­quent­ly crit­i­cized the deci­sion in a Face­book post, adding he was con­cerned the film “risked fuelling extrem­ism and ten­sion in com­mu­ni­ties that would under­mine cohe­sion in British soci­ety.” After his dis­missal, Asim received sev­er­al mes­sages of sup­port, includ­ing from the Bish­op of Brad­ford. Asim has been work­ing as an Inde­pen­dent Advis­er since 2019 and has served as Deputy Chair of the British gov­ern­men­t’s Anti-Mus­lim Hatred Work­ing Group. In addi­tion, Asim acts as chair of the Mosques and Imams Nation­al Advi­so­ry Board (MINAB), which was cre­at­ed in 2007 as a facil­i­ta­to­ry and advi­so­ry body for Mus­lim places of wor­ship in the UK. The founders of MINAB includ­ed two groups tied to the Glob­al Mus­lim Broth­er­hood (GMB).

  • Mus­lim Coun­cil of Britain, among Britain’s most influ­en­tial Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tions, his­tor­i­cal­ly act­ing in con­cert with the GMB.

In Novem­ber 2020, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed that the French gov­ern­ment had dis­solved a con­tro­ver­sial Islam­o­pho­bia watch group accused of tak­ing part in a social media cam­paign against a French his­to­ry teacher, behead­ed after show­ing car­i­ca­tures of the Prophet Muham­mad in class. After the attack, France ordered a crack­down on groups accused of rad­i­cal­ism, car­ry­ing out dozens of raids and tem­porar­i­ly shut­ting down mosques.