Finsbury Park Mosque ‘Imprisons’ Journalist
Mohammed Kozbar, manager and trustee of Finsbury Park Mosque, recently ‘imprisoned’ Al Arabiya journalist Ben Flanagan. Video taken by Flanagan, posted on the Al Arabiya website, records Kozbar’s refusal to let Flanagan leave after conducting an interview.
I asked if the mosque had any links to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that has come under the scrutiny of the British government and is banned in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Kozbar quickly became defensive, saying that this was not the agreed subject of the interview. I argued that any political affiliations of the mosque management and trustees seemed to me very much on-topic; Kozbar reluctantly answered some questions on the matter.
But things took a turn for the worst immediately after the interview. Kozbar demanded a copy of the interview tape, something I said I was happy to provide on the spot. But as I was in the process of complying with that request, Kozbar called the police, saying that he was suspicious of my journalistic credentials. The door of his office was then locked, effectively imprisoning me in the mosque.
I then spent the next 30 minutes asking to be let out of the room, with Kozbar and another man who did not identify himself refusing to let me go. I too dialed “999” to alert police that I was being held there against my will.
Stand for Peace has frequently written about the Finsbury Park Mosque’s apparent connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gaza-based terrorist group Hamas.
After the former head of the mosque, Abu Hamza, was arrested on terrorism charges in 2004, the British Government, eager to rid the Finsbury Park Mosque of its pro-terror reputation, passed control of the institution in 2005 to the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood groups in Britain.
The MAB’s founder, Kemal Helbawi, has proclaimed:
“Oh honoured brothers, the Palestinian cause is not a struggle on borders or on land only. Rather, it is an absolute clash of civilisations: a satanic programme led by the Jews and those who support them and a divine programme carried by Hamas and the Islamic Movement in particular and the Islamic peoples in general.”
To run the Finsbury Park mosque, the MAB appointed directors such as Mohammed Sawalha, a Hamas official described by a Brotherhood website as being “responsible for the political unit of the international Muslim Brotherhood in the UK.” Sawalha is “said to have masterminded much of Hamas’s political and military strategy ” out of London, as reported by the BBC.
The other mosque director, Mohammad Kozbar – who was the one to detain Ben Flanagan – has also worked with Sawalha for several other Muslim Brotherhood groups, including the British Muslim Initiative and IslamExpo. Kozbar is also the trustee of a charity named UK Care for Children, which has promoted some of Britain’s most abhorrent hate preachers.
Finsbury Park Mosque presently continues to promote the Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Jamal Badawi, who has described suicide bombers and Hamas terrorists as “freedom fighters” and “martyrs.” Badawi also advocates the right for men to beat their wives, if they show “disregard for [their] marital obligations.”
That Kozbar expected the police to take his side after detaining the Al Arabiya journalist is not so surprising: both the police and Islington Council have provided several tens of thousands of pounds in grants to the mosque.
Moreover, exhibitions run by Finsbury Park Mosque enjoy sponsorship from both the Council and Police, including events run jointly with the World Association of Muslim Youth [WAMY], a Saudi group that is a prolific publisher of anti-Jewish and anti-Shia material, and is accused by a number of governments of funding terrorism.