The London Muslim Centre
The London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel, reports the BBC, has just opened. One of the largest Muslim community centers in Western Europe, the six-storey building can hold 10,000 worshippers and includes a gym, a library, crèche and classrooms. In its totally upbeat coverage of the opening, the Beeb informs readers that the center intends to "teach women and young people job skills and how to balance work with their role at home" and "improve dialogue between Islam and other faiths." We learn that center members raised about £4 million (of the total £10 million), with the bulk of funding coming from taxpayers via such public agencies as the European Development Fund, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and the London Development Agency. The chief rabbi of Great Britain and a cabinet minister attended the opening. Prince Charles, away in the United States for the Reagan funeral, delivered a taped message.
Shaykh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais at the London Muslim Centre opening
So relentlessly upbeat is the BBC coverage that it reports without further comment that inaugural prayers were led by someone it calls "one of Islam's most renowned Imams." That would be Sheikh Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais (also spelled Sudayyis), a Saudi government-appointed imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The news item quotes some anodyne statements by Sudais congratulating British Muslims for taking "great steps towards achieving community cohesion" and calling on them to "exemplify the true image of Islam in their interaction with other communities."
Unspoken here is the identity of Abdur-Rahman al-Sudais, a notorious Islamist, antisemite, and jihadist. Steven Stalinsky of MEMRI prepared a fine report on him that gives a sense of who he is. Two extracts follow:
The themes of his sermons are characterized by confrontation toward non-Muslims. Al-Sudayyis calls Jews "scum of the earth" and "monkeys and pigs" who should be "annihilated." Other enemies of Islam, he says, are "worshippers of the cross" and "idol-worshipping Hindus" who should be fought. Al-Sudayyis has been consistent in calling for jihad in Kashmir and Chechnya, for Jerusalem to be liberated, and for the "occupiers in Iraq" to also be fought. He often claims that Islam is superior to Western culture. …
The concluding supplications of Al-Sudayyis sermons are often filled with statements concerning current affairs. He consistently calls for "Muslims to humiliate the infidels (non-Muslims)," as well as for their destruction. For example, on November 1, 2002, he stated "O Allah, support our mujahedeen bothers in Palestine, Kashmir, and Chechnya."
So there you have it: the Saudi government pays his salary and the British taxpayer subsidizes the mosque where he speaks. Such official patronage for jihad makes one wonder how many more will have to die as victims of jihad before people really wake up to the threat of militant Islam. (June 11, 2004)
June 14, 2004 update: HonestReporting.com has echoed this critique today, with some additional details.
June 17, 2004 update: I reported above, based on a news item from Agence France-Presse, that the chief rabbi of Great Britain had been present at the London Muslim Centre's inauguration; not so, the rabbi's office today informs me. He was invited and had accepted but then pulled out at short notice due to a pastoral matter. Instead, "he sent the Centre a message of support and indicated his willingness to visit it at a future convenient date." So, more shoddy journalism, as AFP merely rewrote the centre's press release without checking on who actually attended.
Also of interest: the chief rabbi's office writes in reference to Imam Sudais, that "he was not listed on the letter of invitation that we received, but had we known that he was attending and given his comments on the Jewish people and Israel, it would have obviously been a matter of great concern."