Jihad and Jews don't go together

By Martin Bright, December 15, 2011
Home to extremist declarations: the East London Mosque

Home to extremist declarations: the East London Mosque

This summer, we warned readers to be careful about overtures from the "community organisers", London Citizens. These darlings of the political class campaigned on behalf of low-paid workers and asylum seekers, and, on the face of it, appeared to be an entirely admirable organisation. Unfortunately, as we revealed, its deputy chair, Junaid Ahmed of East London Mosque, gave a speech at the height of Operation Cast Lead paying tribute to Hamas terrorists. Rabbi Jeremy Gordon told his New North London Synagogue congregation of his "pain" at Hamas leaders being held up as heroes, while Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg of North London Synagogue told the JC that he abhorred Mr Ahmed's views.

The result? Junaid Ahmed remains a trustee and deputy chair of London Citizens and senior figures in the Jewish community continue to work with the organisation. The anti-Islamist website Harry's Place has provided an important service in monitoring the activities of London Citizens and its continued relationship with East London Mosque. The mosque and its sister institution, the London Muslim Centre, has consistently hosted controversial speakers from the wilder fringes of the Islamist world. As the Daily Telegraph's Andrew Gilligan reported just this month, the mosque advertised a discussion with Wahabi cleric Sheikh Saad al-Beraik. It is difficult to feel anything but "pain" when you read words attributed to Sheikh al-Beraik by the Saudi Information Agency: "Muslim brothers in Palestine, do not have mercy neither compassion on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. God made them yours. Why don't you enslave their women? Why don't you wage jihad? Why don't you pillage them?"

And yet, this week, the same Rabbi Wittenberg who found Mr Ahmed's Hamas-worship so abhorrent, agreed to take part in a "multi-faith peace procession" alongside the chairman of East London Mosque, Mohammed Abdul Bari. Again, the avowed aim of the march is entirely admirable: reclaiming the streets after this summer's riots. But why do respected Jewish leaders insist on making common cause with an institution that continues to host antisemitic hate preachers? The only possible argument for doing so would be to persuade East London Mosque to distance itself from the extremists in its midst.

With absolutely zero evidence of this happening, the only conclusion is that Rabbi Wittenberg is fulfilling the traditional role of useful idiot to those with an entirely different agenda to his own.

Last updated: 1:57pm, December 15 2011