Interfaith groups urge inquiry into charity planning prayer service for Holocaust-praising cleric

The event will take place across the road from one of the East End's last active synagogues


Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi attends the sixth annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Conference organised by the Jerusalem International Foundation in the Qatari capital Doha on October 12, 2008. AFP PHOTO/KARIM JAAFAR (Photo credit should read KARIM JAAFAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Jewish and Muslim groups have urged the Charity Commission of England and Wales to investigate a Muslim charity planning a memorial and prayer service for a cleric with a history of antisemitic remarks.

Earlier this week the JC reported that The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which describes itself as a “leading Muslim grassroots contribution for a fair and prosperous British society since 1997”, shared a tribute to the late Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.  

The statement claimed that the Egyptian-born cleric “​​had a profoundly positive impact on the Muslim community,” and MAB said they had the “pleasure of hosting him” when he visited the UK in 2004. 

The Islamist scholar had a track record of public antisemitism, including a call for the “annihilation” of Jews during a TV sermon. Al-Qaradawi also claimed that the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed, was “divine punishment”.

MAB is scheduled to host a 1 October event to "remember the life of the esteemed Islamic scholar,” who died in Doha on Monday aged 96, at Maedah Banqueting Hall in East London.

The social media post advertising the gathering said a "panel of Scholars and Muslim community leaders" will "remember the Sheikh's life and hold Janaza prayers in absentia."

The Salat al-Janazah is an Islamic funeral prayer that forms part of Muslim mourning rituals. 

The event location is just metres away from the former site of Fieldgate Street Great Synagogue, one of the last active synagogues in Whitechapel, an area that was once home to a thriving Jewish community. The shul was closed for regular services in 2009 and the building was purchased by the East London Mosque in 2015.

A spokesperson for the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) told the JC: "It is deeply disturbing for any group, let alone a registered UK charity, to praise the legacy of a notorious supporter of violence against Jewish people.

"Al-Qaradawi was rightly blocked by the Home Office from entering the UK in 2008 due to his justification of terrorist acts and fears his views could foster inter-community violence.

"It is vital that the Charity Commission investigates how a charitable organisation has come to release such a statement."

A spokesperson for the UK-based charity Muslims Against Antisemitism (MAAS) said that the JLC had “made the right decision to write to the Charity Commission. 

“There are real questions here about the social and societal values of organisations that are registered as charities in the United Kingdom. 

“The Charity Commission, it seems, bends over backwards to ensure that charities remain as so, instead of taking a firmer line on some organisations,” they argued.

MAAS added that it was “perverse” to "host a memorial funeral to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideological leader," across from the location of the historical Fieldgate Street Synagogue.

“If Qaradawi had his way, Jews would not be equal citizens.”

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism also confirmed that they would be urging the Charity Commission to probe the group, writing: “Yusuf al-Qaradawi said that the Holocaust was ‘divine punishment’, that Jews worldwide were enemies of Muslims and that the Jewish state should not exist. 

“He condoned violence and was banned from entering the UK, notwithstanding protest from inflammatory figures like Ken Livingstone. 

“This is not a man whom a UK charity should be mourning or praising. We are writing to the Charity Commission to launch an urgent investigation.”

The JC has approached the Charity Commission and the Muslim Association of Britain for comment.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive