Finsbury Park Mosque chair on trustee's alleged Hamas link: 'We're waiting to decide his fate'
PUBLISHED: 11:35 30 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:59 30 November 2017
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The fate of a Finsbury Park Mosque trustee is still up in the air – three weeks after it was alleged that he is a member of a terrorist organisation.
Earlier this month, The Times newspaper reported Mohammad Sawalha had been appointed to the political wing of militant Islamist group Hamas.
This is labelled a terrorist group by the UK government and European Union. Hamas rejects the right of Israel to exist and backs “armed struggle” against it.
It’s a far cry from the spirit of multi-faith community cohesion promoted by the St Thomas’s Road mosque since the days of Abu Hamza.
Mr Sawalha was appointed as a trustee in 2005 – the same year as the mosque’s regime change when hate cleric Hamza was driven out.
His appointment was authorised by the Charity Commission, a government department which regulates charities across the UK.
But mosque chair Mohammed Kozbar told the Gazette on Monday the situation still hadn’t been resolved – as, he said, Mr Sawalha hadn’t been in the country since the reports emerged.
He said: “We are still in touch with the Charity Commission and haven’t been able to meet him officially since the media reports, as he is still abroad.
“When that meeting takes place, we will make a decision. Hopefully it will be very soon.”
In a statement, the mosque said it had no reason to suspect Mr Sawalha.
“Mr Sawalha and other trustees played an instrumental role in preparing for and implementing the removal of Abu Hamza’s supporters, and restoring the mosque to the community.
“It would be remiss to ignore that Mr Sawalha, along with his colleagues, has been at the very heart of this collective achievement and has served the board of trustees, the mosque and its local community diligently and exceptionally throughout the past 12 years.
“Finsbury Park Mosque is a British institution with absolutely no connections with any foreign entities whether religious, political or otherwise.
“As an individual of impeccable character who served the institution and was appointed to the board of trustees with police support, the mosque has never felt the need to research Mr Sawalha’s personal life nor to investigate his political views or standpoints.”