May 29, 2023

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British Islamic centres accused of having ‘outrageous’ ties to brutal Iranian regime

UK authorities have been called to urgently investigate reported connections between several Islamic institutions based in Britain and the Iranian regime. Jason Brodsky, policy director of United Against Nuclear , described to the links between the Islamic Centre of England to Ayatollah Khamenei as “outrageous”, echoing comments made by security minister that these organisations pose a “vile threat” to the UK.

In the past eight months, the Iranian regime has executed dozens of civilians on trumped up charges, including Alireza Akbari, a British-Iranian dual national, as well as maiming and killing at least hundreds more in crackdowns on anti-Khamenei protests. It has also supplied Russia with deadly kamikaze drones that have devastated Ukrainian cities.

During a parliamentary debate on Monday, Christian Wakeford, the Labour MP for Bury South, decried the “extreme activities” of the Islamic Centre of England, which is a UK-registered charity.

He said that it showed “the threat that Iran poses in the UK”, given it is reportedly funded by the Iranian authorities and is under the direction of the UK representative of the Iranian Supreme Leader.

Several other MPs called for the Islamic Centre of England to be shut down after revelations that some of the sheikhs it promotes have called for the downfall of western democracies and the “compassionate” killing of gay people.

The centre was issued with a warning in 2020 when it held a vigil for the late Qasem Soleimani, the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, who was killed by US drone strikes.

The IRGC is the primary branch of the Iranian Armed Forces that has been accused recently of using deadly methods to suppress the latest wave of anti-regime protests, which began in September last year, as well as supply Shahed-136 kamikaze drones to be used by Russia against Ukrainian civilian areas.

Speaking at the Parliamentary debate in Commons on Monday, security minister Mr Tugendhat said MPs were “absolutely right” to harbour concern about Iran’s “cultural centres” in Britain.

He said: “The work we’ve been doing against the Iranian threat has not diminished, in fact it’s increased in recent months.

“Sadly the Islamic Centre for England is not alone and the work of the IRGC is not limited to those Iranian proxy organisations.”

Mr Brodsky highlighted the Islamic College as another establishment with ties to the Iranian regime, with the Iranian state media claiming it is a branch of the Al-Mustafa International University, an educational establishment allegedly considered a recruiting ground for the IRGC’s Quds Forces. It is also under counterterrorism sanctions in the United States.

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Mr Tugendhat added on Monday that the government was “pulling together” to combat “this vile threat that’s taken over a country and is now threatening ours”.

“This government will absolutely not allow those [threats] to flourish and will stand extremely firmly against any such threats in this country,” he said.

The debate around Iran’s influence in the UK intensified last month after MI5 accused the regime of plotting the assassination or kidnap of British residents on at least ten occasions last year.

Plans to proscribe Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have been stalled after the Foreign Office raised concerns about keeping communication channels open with the regime.

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