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UK Regulators Warns Islamic Centre of England Over Soleimani Commemoration

October 14th, 2020 06:04

In June 2020, the UK Char­i­ty Com­mis­sion addressed a warn­ing let­ter to the trustees of the Islam­ic Cen­tre of Eng­land (ICE), a part of the Iran­ian influ­ence net­work in the UK. The let­ter was in response to an event in mem­o­ry of Iran’s Major Gen­er­al Qassem Soleimani, com­man­der of the Quds Force of the Islam­ic Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Guard Corps (IRGC) who was killed in a tar­get­ed U.S. drone strike in Bagh­dad in Jan­u­ary 2020. Accord­ing to the Char­i­ty Com­mis­sion let­ter:

On 3 Jan­u­ary 2020 the trustees allowed a can­dlelit vig­il to be held at the charity’s West Lon­don premis­es in response to the death of the Iran­ian Major Gen­er­al Qasem Soleimani. Soleimani has been sub­ject to finan­cial sanc­tions by HM Trea­sury for ter­ror­ism and/or ter­ror­ist financ­ing since 17 Octo­ber 2011 fol­low­ing a des­ig­na­tion under the Ter­ror­ist Asset Freez­ing Etc Act 2010. The event risked asso­ci­at­ing the char­i­ty with a speak­er who may have com­mit­ted an offence under the Ter­ror­ism Acts, as the speak­er was filmed dur­ing the event appear­ing to praise and call for sup­port for Soleimani. The trustees failed to inter­vene or pro­vide a counter nar­ra­tive. The fol­low­ing day the trustees organ­ised a fur­ther event for Soleimani and pub­lished state­ments on the charity’s web­site offer­ing con­do­lence and praise for him. As a result, the reg­u­la­tor has exer­cised its pow­er under sec­tion 75A of the Char­i­ties Act 2011 to issue an Offi­cial Warn­ing to the char­i­ty. This requires the trustees to take spe­cif­ic steps to review con­tent on the charity’s web­site and ensure appro­pri­ate con­sid­er­a­tion is giv­en and risk assess­ments con­duct­ed for any future events held at the charity’s premises.

UK media fur­ther report­ed that the Centre’s Direc­tor had referred to Soleimani as an ‘hon­ourable Islam­ic com­man­der’ in a mes­sage of con­do­lence. It should also be not­ed that the ICE Direc­tor Seyed Hashem Moosavi, had issued an mes­sage of thanks to those who attend­ed the events (which was lat­er tak­en offline), stating:

On this occa­sion I would like to thank all the dear broth­ers and sis­ters, espe­cial­ly respect­ed Ula­ma, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the grand Mara­ji’ (Reli­gious Author­i­ties), envoys of the embassies of Islam­ic coun­tries in par­tic­u­lar the Ambas­sador of the Islam­ic Repub­lic of Iran to Lon­don, dig­ni­fied schol­ars, heads and ser­vants of cen­tres, Mosques and Islam­ic con­gre­ga­tions, uni­ver­si­ty lec­tur­ers, head­teach­ers, teach­ers, stu­dents and every­one who attend­ed the Islam­ic Cen­tre of Eng­land and who were com­ing from Lon­don and oth­er cities of Eng­land with their var­i­ous lan­guages, cul­tures and nation­al­i­ties, and every­one who attend­ed and par­tic­i­pat­ed in the memo­r­i­al ser­vice of the great mar­tyrs Haj Qassem Soleimani and Haj Abu Mah­di Al-Muhan­dis and those dear mar­tyrs who were with them. Also, I would like to thank all those dear ones who attened the pre­vi­ous night with light­ing can­dles and lay­ing flow­ers for the pure souls of the mar­tyrs. I offer my thanks and grat­i­tude to you all and I ask the Almighty Allah for all of you broth­ers and sis­ters to be blessed with health, suc­cess and stead­fast­ness in your life. I also wish for the high­ly esteemed mar­tyrs to be giv­en the high­est of posi­tions, be show­ered with the mer­cy of God and to be joined with the mas­ter of mar­tyrs Imam Hus­sain (peace and bless­ings be upon him).

The Islam­ic Cen­tre of Eng­land (ICE) is part of the Iran­ian influ­ence net­work in the UK. Its web­site states that it was found­ed in Decem­ber 1995 and opened offi­cial­ly in Novem­ber 1998. On its web­site, the Cen­tre says it wish­es to serve the Mus­lim com­mu­ni­ty and the wider com­mu­ni­ty in var­i­ous fields, with reli­gious guid­ance and cul­tur­al issues being at the fore­front. The Cen­tre was head­ed until 2020 by Huj­jat Al-Islam Moham­mad Ali Shoma­li, who in 2016 received a let­ter of appre­ci­a­tion from the Office of Grand Aya­tol­lah Sayyed Ali Khamenei, in which he was titled The Respect­ed Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Grand Aya­tol­lah Khamenei. Shoma­li is cur­rent­ly a lec­tur­er and the head of dept. of Reli­gions at the Imam Khome­i­ni Edu­ca­tion and Research Insti­tute in Qum. Lead­ing fig­ures con­nect­ed to ICEL take part in pro-Iran­ian ini­ti­at­ed events like the annu­al Inter­na­tion­al Quds Day. In June 2014, it co-host­ed with the Ahlul­bayt Islam­ic mis­sion (AIM) the 5th annu­al Imam Khome­i­ni Con­fer­ence, to com­mem­o­rate the death anniver­sary of the late leader of the Islam­ic Revolution.