Finsbury Park Mosque defends record after wikileaks claims
PUBLISHED: 14:51 09 May 2011 | UPDATED: 14:51 09 May 2011
THE Finsbury Park Mosque has hit the headlines again after a wikileaks document claimed it was a haven of extremism - but people in charge of the centre say nothing could be further from the truth.
The mosque in St Thomas’s Road, which was formerly the North London Central Mosque, was notorious worldwide when radical preacher Abu Hamza was based there a decade ago.
American intelligence papers released by Wikileaks last week claimed that the mosque had been “a haven for extremists from all over the world.”
But since the current owners took over in 2005, they have strived to turn the mosque into a community hub and are concerned about the effect the current publicity will have the positive image they have worked hard to build up.
Mohammed Kozbar, manager of the mosque, said: “This is all about the time when Abu Hamza and his forces were in control of the centre. It is completely different situation now, you could say it’s a different mosque.
“Back then it was constantly in the media spotlight and right wing people came to demonstrate outside the centre because of the people in control of the mosque.
“It was very tense and the police were really in a difficult situation trying to dealt with the matter.
“Since we have took over we have had no problems at all and no issues with the community or the police or the media.
“We are building bridges between us and the wider community. We have been holding workshops and open days for everyone, including non-muslims.
“Our local MP, Jeremy Corbyn, has used the mosque for his surgery and the council leader intends to soon.
“Before 2005, the mosque used to get 50 people to Friday prayers, now we get around 1500, so you can see the difference.
”We are trying to make sure our community is integrated others and make sure they are not isolated in any way.
“Since we took over, it has been a different story. We have never had a serious issue with extremism while we have been here, all this is about the past.”
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