Civil war breaks out at mosque over eviction of blinded imam
A civil war has broken out at Britain's most prestigious mosque over the treatment of an imam who was blinded in an attack and is now being evicted by the mosque's authorities.
Protests have erupted at the Regent's Park mosque over attempts to kick out Sheikh Mohammed El-Salamouni, a respected imam who had his eyes gouged out in 2007 during an unprovoked attack by a mentally ill man.
The sheikh, who trained at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, has resided in a flat owned by the mosque for the past four years. But he has received an eviction notice ordering him and his wife to vacate the premises by 9 August.
His supporters are furious that the mosque, which has enormous financial backing from across the Muslim world and is home to the prestigious Islamic Cultural Centre, has made no attempt to compensate the scholar for the attack and is now forcing him out of his home. They suspect he has been sent the eviction notice because he is suing the mosque, claiming that security was inadequate at the time of the attack.
The furore has been exacerbated by growing tensions between the mosque's Saudi backers and a group of prominent Egyptians who make up a large proportion of worshippers.
Under an agreement struck when the mosque was built in the 1970s, the director is always a diplomat appointed by the government of Saudi Arabia, who provided most of the financing. The imams are sent from Al-Azhar, one of the world's most prestigious Islamic universities and an organisation that has grown increasingly critical of the hardline Wahabi interpretation of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia. The current director at Regent's Park mosque is Dr Ahmed Al Dubayan, a Saudi diplomat who chairs the influential Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board and is a patron for the Fight for Sight charity for the blind.
Hundreds of protesters have been gathering outside the mosque calling for Dr Dubayan's resignation.
Nahid Mahmoud, a former employee of Regent's Park mosque and one of the sheikh's supporters, said: "We cannot accept this kind of treatment of our imam. This is a man who lost both his eyes doing his job at the mosque and now they are trying to evict him. Where is their heart?"
The mosque says it has allowed the sheikh to stay at his flat free of charge for the past two years despite his secondment ending. "We took significant steps in assisting and supporting Sheikh Salamouni," officials said in a statement. "This included providing him with extra staff and legal support and covering various hospital expenses."
Sheikh Salamouni said he had received no financial compensation from the mosque since the attack and was fighting for his rights. "The mosque authorities and Mr Dubayan are reflecting a bad picture of Muslims and Islam by their behaviour and morals," he said. "I am simply looking for justice."
- 1 The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election
- 2 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 5 Naomi Wolf reacts to Isis 'conspiracy theories' critism after she questions whether beheading videos are real
President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
New York police shooting: thousands turn out for the funeral of Rafael Ramos
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...