Search

Boss of Finsbury Park mosque hits back at imprisonment claims

PUBLISHED: 13:00 27 August 2014

Mr Kozbar claims he was worried about

Mr Kozbar claims he was worried about "malicious journalism"

TONY GAY at tonephote@aol.com

The boss of Finsbury Park Mosque has hit back at claims he imprisoned a journalist for asking awkward questions.

Ben Flanagan, who works for Arab news channel Al Arabiya, says he was locked in a room for 30 minutes against his will at the St Thomas’s Road mosque following an interview with manager Mohammed Kozbar.

Mr Flanagan alleged the situation turned nasty when he started asking about the mosque’s relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood, and Egyptian group currently being investigated by the British Government.

But Mr Kozbar, in charge following the departure of hook-handed preacher Abu Hamza – who was recently convicted of terrorism charges in the US – claimed he just wanted to see some identification, as he was worried about “malicious journalism”.

He said: “He asked if he could come and talk about the changes we have made to the mosque since Abu Hamza.

“For a few minutes he asked those questions, then he started asking about lots of different things. Not that we have anything to hide, but we felt he had misled us and was trying to ambush us to create a story.

Bad experiences

“We started to worry he was a malicious journalist, especially as we have had bad experiences in the past, so we asked to see some photo identification to prove who he was.

“He couldn’t do that, so we called the police.

“Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to keep him there, but we were worried. We offered him tea and coffee while we waited, it wasn’t like he was in prison.

“We didn’t intimidate him in any way, we just weren’t sure he was who he said he was.”

Mr Flanagan said the mosque despite the mosque’s newfound reputation for openness, there are some issues it still wants to keep quiet.

He said: “The interview was going well until I raised the subject of the mosque’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been subject to a government review as to whether it has links to extremism or violence, the results of which are about to be released to the public.

“I saw it as deeply relevant to any story.”

“I’m surprised that Mr Kozbar felt ‘ambushed’ as this was certainly not the tone of my questions or my approach to the interview.

“It is not true that I did not show him identification – I showed him various forms of ID, as well as an email from an editor commissioning the story I planned to write, but he was not satisfied by this.

“I’ve worked as a journalist for 13 years and have never been treated like this before. At the same time, I do understand that the mosque has faced intense media scrutiny in the past and is sensitive to negative coverage.

“I think the article I wrote on this experience was extremely balanced given the circumstances.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories

19:09

Police have taped off a section of bloodsoaked pavement in Finsbury Park after a man was attacked this evening.

17:40

Sleepy criminals will be dragged to court before breakfast under controversial plans to begin hearings at the crack of dawn.

17:19

Academy-status is on the horizon for Highbury Grove after the trust bidding to sponsor the school appointed one of its members as chair of governors today.

15:08

He is Arsenal’s best young talent and has shared a pitch with Lionel Messi at Barcelona’s Nou Camp. But even Alex Iwobi was humbled by a visit to Elthorne Park in Hornsey Rise last night.

12:26

A drug dealer has been sent back to prison after being caught flying to the UK from Spain on a false passport.

12:21

Islington stations will be hit by three sets of closures to the Victoria and Overground lines during the Easter bank holiday weekend.

09:40

A fifth person has been charged in relation to Saturday’s crash in Essex Road.

09:15

Tearful elderly people say they have been “erased” by Islington Council as it shuts their “second home” in Highbury.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now