SCHOOLCHILDREN were given special classes in praise of Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasem Soleimani at British mosques, it can be revealed.
At least six mosques across the country organised events honouring Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander, as a “martyr” after he was killed in a US drone strike in January 2020.
As commander-in-chief of the IRGC’s Quds Force, Soleimani oversaw Iran’s funding and direction of terror groups, including Hamas and Hezbollah.
Despite this, mosques in London, Luton, Birmingham and Manchester, which have charitable status and benefit from UK tax breaks, organised the events including at least two where children were encouraged to learn about Soleimani’s life.
On the day after Iran’s terror chief’s death, another UK-registered charity, Majlis e Ulama e Europe, a network of Shia mosques and scholars closely linked to Iran, also issued a statement condemning the attack that killed him.
The statement said it wished to pay condolences to the Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei and the family of the “martyr” Soleimani.
The revelations comes as the British government continues to work towards proscribing the IRGC, which also controls Iran’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes, as a terrorist organisation — a move that will mean events in praise of its leadership would be outlawed.
Photographs posted on social media by those involved show children sitting on the carpet of an unnamed mosque while being taught about the terror chief, and reveal that a similar event took place at the Masjid-e-Ali Centre in Luton.
Other mosques involved spoke of Soleimani as “the commander of hearts”, while an event in London was addressed by officials from the Iranian regime.
“Mourning the death of Soleimani is really a litmus test,” Kasra Aarabi, director of the Iran Programme at the Tony Blair Institute, told the JC.
“He was a major terrorist leader, dedicated to the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. It’s deeply concerning that children should be taught he was some kind of martyr.”
The children’s events took place the weekend after Soleimani was killed in 2020. In a post on social media, one teacher who attended, Aun Naqvi, is shown standing holding a picture of Soleimani with children sitting at his feet.
He wrote that it was “essential we use our madressas to teach our children about our Shahuda [martyrs] and our leaders”.
His posts also show children holding pictures of Soleimani captioned “General Soleimani Anti-Zionism”. Mr Naqvi did not respond to a request for comment.
Another photograph shows teenagers in Luton standing in front of a large image of Soleimani with the slogan
“If death is inevitable then laying down your life for God is the best death”.
Other leaflets and online posts highlight similar events at the Idara-e-Jaaferiya mosque in Tooting, South London, and in Hammersmith, West London, where students heard speeches from Iranian officials.
In Manchester, the Islamic Institute said it was holding a “commemoration of the martyrs” killed by “the aggressor and criminal US regime”.
In Birmingham, the Imam Reza Centre said it was honouring “our beloved martyrs” Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis, another a commander who died alongside him.
A wake was also held at the Idaara Maarif-e-Islam, in Small Heath, which said: “If or when a person/entity is proscribed a terrorist by the UK, we do not endorse them.” All the other mosques involved did not respond to requests for comment.
Photographs also show children at a vigil, organised by the Islamic Centre of England (ICE), in Central London where Soleimani was described as“one of the great soldiers of Islam”.
The vigil triggered a Charity Commission inquiry that saw ICE warned for appearing to celebrate extremism. It is facing a further probe after its director Seyed Moosavi called protesters against the Iranian regime “sons of Satan”.
Lord Carlile KC, the former government reviewer of terrorism legislation, said there was “simply no doubt” such events would fall foul of criminal and charity law should the IRGC be proscribed.
A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: “It is grotesque that a terrorist leader should be honoured in this way.” The Charity Commission said it was “corrosive” to charities.