The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)

Press release

Attention: News desk

For immediate use


The Sunday Times and a Classic Case of ‘Sour Grapes’

It is not the first time the right-wing Islamophobic press such as the Sunday Times embroils itself in an unscrupulous smear campaign against leading figures within the British Muslim community. The Sunday Times’ attack on Mr. Mohammed Sawalha, former President of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and one of the newly appointed Trustees of the North London Mosque in Finsbury Park, happens to be one in a series of such attacks aimed at undermining the achievements of Muslims in this country.


Mohammed Sawalha is widely recognised as a leading member of the British Muslim community who is quite intensely involved in numerous projects which aim at enhancing Muslim relations with other communities and promoting political and social inclusion and engagement amongst Muslims.


Ahmed Al-Sheikh, President of MAB stated this morning: “The Sunday Times report, which seems to be expressing regret over the transfer of the previously turbulent mosque to a new management and board of trustees, is laughable. The allegations which the report cited are baseless and rely on fabricated information, which seem to rue the fact that they no longer have the North London Mosque as a trouble spot to use as an excuse to attack and offend Muslims throughout Britain.”


MAB wishes for the new trustees of the North London Mosque a full success, and hope that they serve the local community to reshape the previous image attached to the mosque by adapting the policy of inclusivity and service for all.


The Muslim Association of Britain

13th of February, 2005



Statement from Mohammed Sawalha in response

 to the Sunday Times allegations


As part of the continuing incitement campaign against the Muslim community and its leaders in the United Kingdom by The Sunday Times and some of its editors, the newspaper published on Sunday 13 May 2005 a report about the change in the Board of Trustees of the North London Central Mosque (Finsbury Park) insinuating that the mosque had simply changed hands from one set of radicals to another.


While the Muslim community in Finsbury Park and Britain as a whole has been immensely delighted at the change of the mosque’s management, the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim media in Britain have been utterly depressed and frustrated for having lost a golden opportunity and a main source of incitement against the Muslim community in Britain. Until recently, the controversy surrounding the mosque provided them with plenty of material to frighten the public and boost their sales.


The frustration shown by the right-wing media may also be in response to the success of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) in actively reaching out to the Muslim community and to encourage Muslims to take part in the political process and work from with the British institutions. It seems that the Sunday Times and its likes are more eager to support the isolation and marginalization of the Muslim community.


The Sunday Times has relied in its report on an American memo that in turn is based on Israeli intelligence sources. The world knows well today that Israeli intelligence sources are a combination of fabrications and confessions extracted from Palestinian detainees under torture. Israel is the only state in the world today whose parliament legalizes the use of torture.


The paper further wonders whether someone like me might be arrested if I were to travel to the United States of America. It is no longer a secret that numerous decent and renowned Muslims may not be welcome in the United States of America. Recently Yusuf Islam was forced back after his flight was rerouted and Tariq Ramadan's work permit was revoked. Although I have had no problems in this regard, it goes without saying that who the Americans allow into their country and who they do not welcome is definitely not a standard to go by. The majority of the population of the globe today disagree with many U.S. policies whether on the enviornment, on Palestine, the invasion of Iraq or the war on terrorism.


I am proud of my service to the oppressed people of Palestine highlighting their plight.  I sympathize with their legitimate struggle and support their right to freedom and independence. However, I was never at anytime a military commander of Hamas as the newspaper alleged. While the newspaper did acknowledge that the U.S. memo did not charge me it sought to mislead the public by talking about the U.S. allegations as if they were facts. The Sunday Times editors could at least have had the decency to qualify the allegations and describe them as ‘alleged’.


It might be of interest to the public to know that the Sunday Times Nick Fielding had phoned me and two of his assistants arrived at my door without prior notice in the early hours of Friday 11 February 2005. In all astonishment as to where they obtained my telephone number and house address, I did tell them all that I would welcome talking to them about the issues they wanted to raise with them and that I had nothing to conceal provided a newspaper correspondent respectfully asked to interview me. I warned them too that banging the door of my house so noisily in the early hours of the morning for a long period of time and frightening my children and chasing them down the road was not going to make me discuss with them anything.


I do fully understand the state of depression and frustration afflicting the right-wing press and the supporters of Israel in the United Kingdom because of the positive and peaceful change effected to the management of Finsbury Park mosque. I would just like to say to them all it will do no one any good to undermine the efforts that have been made in order to restore a respectable status and positive role to one of the most important and largest Muslim places of worship in London. I have agreed to join the board of Trustees of the mosque because I wanted to help. The Sunday Times is clearly not on the side of those that want to help.


I would like to express my deep gratitude to Mr. Mohammed Sarwar, the MP for Glasgow Govan and member of the Board of Trustees, and to Mr. Barry Norman, the Metropolitan police chief superintendent, for their comments in the newspaper's report.


Finally, I’d like to inform the public that I shall be discussing the newspapers allegations with my lawyers to assess the prospect for a lawsuit against it and its editors.


For further information and interviews, please contact:

Mr Ihtisham Hibatullah: 07786 257120


Mohammad Sawalha

14th February 2005







The Muslim Association of Britain has local branches across the UK that provide localities with a wide range of regular events and activities, including study circles, talks, social gatherings and much more. Click here to see what is going on in your area.

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)
Thinking Globally, Acting Locally | [EMAIL PROTECTED] | 0207 272 2888




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