Search

Boss of Finsbury Park mosque hits back at imprisonment claims

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

The grieving mother of a young man shot dead in a King’s Cross nightclub is today pleading for the community to name her son’s killer after a decade of silence.

Yesterday, 19:00

Islington’s archives team were all smiles after winning their bid to bring home a piece of the borough’s creative history.

Yesterday, 17:35

Think you’ve had an interesting life? Meet Carlos Lopez-Barillas. He’s an award-winning Guatemalan war photographer, champion skateboarder and water polo player and runs his own newspaper. And comes from a family of political activists.

Yesterday, 17:33

The Gazette hunts high and low each week to bring you news of the most interesting and unusual new businesses in Islington. This week we speak to the guys behind the borough’s first honey.

Yesterday, 15:57

Drum’n’bass fans were left fuming after being refused entry to a Finsbury Park festival because they “turned up too late”.

Yesterday, 14:16

Former health minister Aneurin Bevan, who had helped found the NHS eight years earlier, blasted the standard of council housing on a visit to Islington Central Library in Holloway Road.

Yesterday, 12:52

Every week, we take to the streets to unearth something being manufactured right here in Islington. This week, we speak to cake baking business owner Cynthia Akinsanya, who has created a new range to celebrate Black History Month.

Yesterday, 12:35

Islington Council is “not going to stand by” and wait for the transport industry to improve air quality.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

Competitions

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

As we grow older it becomes more and more important to have means to travel about safely and quickly. Our friendship groups and families grow and the need to have a car that is not only safe but also fast and big enough for all our needs is ever more important. There are many cars on the market for such needs but none deals with them as efficiently or as neatly as a VW Golf Estate. These cars are build strong, long lasting and spacious for a reason. They cater to the needs of many and are some of the most popular cars currently on the market.

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