2 March 2010

We condemn Andrew Gilligan’s distorted and utterly misleading portrayal of the East London Mosque in last night’s Dispatches on Channel 4. Through factual errors, innuendo and an extraordinarily disingenuous selection of commentators, the programme leaves viewers with an entirely false impression of the Mosque.

The ELM and LMC provide a range of facilities and services perhaps unsurpassed in Britain’s Muslim community. These are open and accessible to all, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. We provide considerable and wide-ranging services to the diverse population of London’s East End. We are proud to be part of a multicultural, multi-religious society, and work tirelessly with our Imams and community workers to promote religious and social tolerance, and to oppose and condemn violent extremism in all its forms. We have a proven track record of striving to improve British society for all, working in partnership with a diverse range of people and organisations. We will continue to promote these inclusive ideals.

The Mosque benefits from extensive voluntary support from the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE), which has its head office in our Business Wing; this open relationship is based on a shared commitment to make a positive contribution to the whole community. The Mosque actively encourages the congregation to engage in the democratic process, particularly voting during elections, without ever suggesting who to vote for; no organisation or person – and this includes IFE – is allowed to canvass for political parties or candidates in the Mosque or London Muslim Centre.

We try to ensure that those who use our facilities, including for speaking engagements, reflect the values of moderation and tolerance we hold and adhere to. A huge number of speakers, and of the widest diversity, has spoken at the Centre, including (in the last year or so alone), the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, the former Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu El-Assal and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. On rare occasion it may be that someone, speaking at an event for which a room or hall has been hired for example, says something we neither agree with nor approve of. It would be very misleading to characterise our Mosque on the basis of these few exceptions, rather the norm of the great diversity of the speakers who maintain the highest standards we aspire to. It is not possible for any organisation in a position such as ours to vet and approve in advance every statement to be made by every speaker addressing audiences at the Mosque and Centre. Intellectual, political, social and religious debate is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society and many organisations (including the ELM and LMC) permit a wide range of speakers who hold varied and often conflicting views. Self-evidently that does not mean that the organisations in questions support or espouse every view expressed by every speaker they host and it would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise.

The East London Mosque remains a positive influence in the community with an excellent record in promoting community cohesion and of proactive interfaith work.