Dear Manchester Islamic Centre Management,
BBC Radio Manchester is running a report in its Breakfast Show tomorrow morning about Manchester Islamic Centre and its alleged links to the Iranian regime.
We have spoken to the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Alicia Kearns, who’s urging the government to close Manchester Islamic Centre. She says there is evidence the centre has celebrated attacks on people who don’t support the Iranian regime, and that there is also proof of the centre celebrating people the UK regards as terrorists.
We have also spoken to an Iranian woman from Greater Manchester who says she’s been involved in peaceful protests outside of Manchester Islamic Centre and has received threats because of this. She says Iranian people living in the UK don’t feel safe while Islamic Centres with alleged links to the Iranian regime operate in the UK.
A petition with nearly 40,000 signatures is calling for Islamic Centres in the UK with alleged links to the Iranian regime – including Manchester Islamic Centre – to be shut down.
The Charity Commission has confirmed it’s aware of concerns about Manchester Islamic Centre and is considering the matters raised.
Please provide a response as soon as possible.
Journalist, BBC Radio Manchester
Dear Ms Taylorson,
We write further to your email dated 28/02/2023. We want to start by noting our disappointment with your email’s tone and the narrative it is clearly seeking to further. Your tone is interrogational and displays a bias towards the “Iran and Iranians are evil” propaganda that many politicians in the west are currently peddling. It is interesting to note that you don’t actually ask any questions – you aggressively pose a series of unevidenced and defamatory statements and then demand a response. A tactic that works well when seeking to target someone, and one used effectively by many Islamophobic media outlets. There seems to be little to no attempt at even appearing impartial in this “investigation”. It sounds like you have already determined our guilt maybe due to our perceived country of origin (even though our staff/volunteers/congregation come from many different countries). Racism and Islamophobia in the media industry is well documented however it is always horrible to be at the receiving end of it.
To respond to your email and the points raised:
1. The Manchester Islamic Centre (MIC) is a UK based independent institution and does not have a connection with or represent any foreign government or nationality.
2. The MIC has never celebrated any attack against anyone – whether they support or oppose Iran. This statement is false.
3. The MIC has never celebrated anyone who is a terrorist. This statement is false.
4. MIC staff have never threatened any protestor – there is no evidence of this, and this is a false accusation made to defame us.
If you choose to be impartial you may wish to include in your report the fact that the “peaceful” protestors regularly call for the death of our congregation, telling young children as they enter the premises that they deserve to die for their affiliation to the centre. Our worshippers and attendees have been called terrorists with blood on their hands. They regularly surround our congregants and film themselves harassing, swearing at and threatening them in order to upload the videos on to social media. One female protester was arrested and cautioned for doing this to a pregnant member of our congregation.
The protesters regularly use Islamophobic and racist chants. They claim to be there to oppose Iran (despite us not being linked to Iran), yet their chants involve denigrating Islam and Muslims. Their chants go well beyond mere political opposition, and well into the realm of religious hate. The Islamophobic motivations of the protesters is something which you and your sources conveniently ignore.
To date at least 5 “peaceful” protesters have been arrested for various criminal acts. Our premises has been vandalised on 9 occasions costing our community tens of thousands of pounds in repairs and extra security measures. Threatening graffiti has been daubed on our walls, our windows and cameras have been smashed, and congregants have had car windows damaged whilst they were attending religious ceremonies at the centre. We have had to put in place extra security measures following police advice.
The protesters camped outside our mosque for over a month, during which time they were continuously harassing and abusing our congregation. The council and the police failed to act in managing and restricting the threats and violence. No adequate risk assessment was done, and they were allowed to have open fires, literally meters away from the mosque entrance. In one incident, whilst we had an event inside the mosque, attended by families and children, one of the “peaceful” protester came close to the carpark entrance and tried to set himself on fire by pouring petrol on himself – despite the danger posed to public, women and children by his actions. Even after this incident and reports to the police the protesters continued to have open fires outside our centre.
It is clear from the forgoing that the police are unable to control the “peaceful” protestors so instead have resorted to advising us what measures to take to protect our staff, congregation and premises.
We are surprised to read your statement that protestors feel unsafe. The violence documented by us and the police (as well as other mosques and centres) has exclusively been one sided: the protesters are attacking our congregation, staff and premises. In fact, they have displayed such levels of violence during the past few months that police patrols attend regularly when we have events to guard the innocent worshippers. We have been told repeatedly that this case of violence against our centre and the so called ‘peaceful protesters’ is one of the top cases GMP is dealing with. This should say a lot about the nature of their behaviour and protest.
We are sure you will appreciate, given the above, the level of fear felt in our community, especially women and children, every time the “peaceful” protestors turn up in front of our centre.
5. A significant section of the Iranian community use mosques and Islamic centres in the UK, so we question the veracity of the comment “Iranian people living in the UK don’t feel safe while Islamic Centres with alleged links to the Iranian regime operate in the UK.” Apart from being based on a false premise, ordinary Iranians have no issues with our centre and the work we do. You may wish to widen the pool of Iranians in Manchester whose opinions you seek for this piece. Otherwise, people may conclude this is pure political propaganda.
6. The petition’s text is filled with false information and innuendo. It has been heavily promoted via paid adverts online yet has only managed to garner 40k signatures after many months. It seems the British public have not been persuaded by this propaganda as you would like to imply.
Please note we will be publishing your email to us along with our response on our website and social media – this is so that should our views be misrepresented, the public and any complaints body may refer back to our original response.
Manchester Islamic Centre Management