Taxpayers’ funding to controversial mosque halted amid investigation

The Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre

The Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre

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Charlie Peters

By Charlie Peters

Published: 25/08/2023

- 08:21

Updated: 25/08/2023

- 09:35

The Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre was set to receive £2.2million before GB News raised concerns about controversial speeches

A Birmingham mosque with a long history of hosting controversial speeches recently awarded millions in taxpayers’ cash has had its grant paused after a GB News investigation.

The Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre in Birmingham was awarded £2.2million from the government’s Youth Investment Fund this month to expand its youth services.

The grant, from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, was awarded for the development of a new youth centre offering programmes on leadership, critical thinking, arts and culture and “empowering marginalised communities,” according to BirminghamLive.

Distribution of the funds is being managed by Social Investment Business (SIB), but GB News understands that funding to the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre has been paused while the SIB investigates allegations raised by this broadcaster about the mosque’s links to controversial and extremist speakers.

The funding pause comes amid a GB News investigation that revealed that the mosque has a lengthy record of hosting controversial speeches that denigrate women, promote homophobia, and praise extreme punishments such as chopping off the hands of thieves.

The Green Lane Masjid featured in the 2007 documentary titled Undercover Mosque where preacher Abu Usamah was filmed saying “take that homosexual man and throw him from the mountain.”

The sheikh also said that women were intellectually “deficient” and that “it takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man.”

He still preaches at the taxpayer-funded Green Lane mosque.

GB News understands that some due diligence checks were conducted before funds were awarded to all beneficiaries, including the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre.

But this broadcaster has reviewed footage of recent lectures given by Green Lane-linked cleric Abu Usamah, where he made further shocking claims.

In a lecture in Leeds last year, the preacher criticised people campaigning for women’s rights in Iran amid the regime’s crackdown on the hijab.

He said: “Every so many years we always get these kinds of people, who jump up and down about the huriya [freedom] of the woman.

“Well Islam came and freed the woman, when she practises Islam correctly and when we practise Islam correctly.”

The preacher defended how Islamic societies like Iran treat women while attacking the West.

He said: “In the West, the woman is a piece of lahm [meat]. You want to sell some shoes, a car, tires, toothbrush.

“Just put a woman on there with no clothes on. So we’re not going to get on the back foot and be defensive and apologise.”

Preacher Abu Usamah told another Green Lane Masjid audience in September 2019 that he supports the Islamic punishment of chopping off the hands of thieves before scorching the stump with boiling oil.

He added that he believes that this punishment is an effective deterrent: “We are going to do that in the Muslim world.

“That’s what they used to do in the Muslim world, and in some places they still do it.

“And I believe in that. And I believe that it is a deterrent, as well. And I won’t bite my tongue for anyone about ‘Oh, look how barbaric that is,’ because if we were to start to talk about … the way they do punishment here in the West is worse.”

In another lecture also uploaded in 2019 given at Green Lane Masjid titled “Dealing with the RSE [Relationships and sex education]/Shamima Begum Issue”, Abu Usamah referred to Begum — who fled Britain to join terror group ISIS in 2015 aged 15 — as “just a little girl, she’s a baby.”

He criticised ISIS and terror group Al-Shabaab as “a scourge on our Ummah.”

But in the same talk hosted by a mosque set to receive millions in taxpayers’ cash, Usamah condemned the Government’s relationships and sex education efforts.

He said: “Don’t teach my kids homosexuality. Don’t teach my kids about lesbianism and other than that.”

The preacher added: “Don’t teach my child homosexuality because I don’t condone it.

“The same way you don’t want to hear me teaching your children about plural marriage and the blessings of plural marriage [referring to the Islamic practice of multiple wives].

“You don’t want to hear that. But you want to shove down my throat these issues that go against the fitra, go against my religion, go against your religion.”

Despite the charged content of this speech, the Green Lane mosque is being funded by the Government to set up new educational youth services.

Abu Usamah is not the only controversial speaker to be hosted by the Green Lane Masjid.

Mustafa Abu Rayyan, an imam and the mosque’s head of outreach, said on a podcast uploaded by Green Lane Masjid earlier this year that women must be “obedient” to men and that a wife must “serve her husband” and “fulfil his physical desires.”

He added that “this is the whole point of marriage.”

Abu Rayyan also lamented how modern feminism meant that some Muslim women “struggle with things like a man marrying a second wife,” referring to the Islamic practice of having multiple wives, adding that feminism meant that “they struggle with the idea that they have to obey their husband.”

Footage has also emerged online of lectures given at the Green Lane Masjid where an unnamed speaker describes the process for stoning a woman to death.

He says: “According to the Shariah again, when it comes to women, there must be a hole dug in the earth and she must be covered up to half of her body so that her [Islamic term for clothing] does not appear.”

It is not known when this footage was broadcast. The context of the footage is also unclear, but the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre did not offer further information when questioned by this broadcaster.

Dr Alan Mendoza, executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, said: “It is quite right that serious allegations of this nature are investigated properly.

“Obviously this involves suspending funding until a conclusion is reached. It will be extremely embarrassing for the SIB programme if the allegations are found to be correct and it will once again raise questions about how funding of this nature works.”

Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, said: “I congratulate GB News in bringing these serious allegations to the public’s attention.

“Funding from the taxpayer must be subject to due diligence and strict oversight, especially as we want to make sure it’s promoting good community projects and not promoting those who seek to cause further divisions in society.

“If this is the case, then we should be clear and say that 'I’m afraid there is no money'.

"In a statement, the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre said that it “has been in the forefront of civic engagement, community integration and interfaith collaboration in Birmingham for many years.

“We promote sincere adherence to Islam as a religion of peace and we are also deeply committed to supporting those in need in our local community.

“We take pride in upholding the laws of this country, and we reject violence and extremism unequivocally.”

It added: “In accordance with these values, we developed a comprehensive Speaker Anti-Extremism Policy and Declaration in 2019. Everyone who preaches or speaks at Green Lane Mosque – including our own senior leaders – is required to sign it and abide by it.

“We will not hesitate to take firm action if the policy is breached, and in some cases we have removed historical material from our online platforms that contravenes our values or has the potential to mislead, offend or harm.”

It continued: “The new Youth Centre we plan to build will provide a safe space for all young people locally – Muslim and non-Muslim – in an area where gang crime and anti-social behaviour are major concerns.

“It is the only project in the Greater Birmingham area that is in line to receive support from the Youth Investment Fund. It will be a place where the creative arts can flourish, where young people are nurtured to succeed, and where mental health support is available.

“It is a further addition to our extensive community projects, which also include a food bank and food kitchen, domestic violence case workers, help with accessing national hardship funds, established sporting activities for women and young people, health clinics, job fairs and much more.

“None of the imams who preach in the mosque will be involved in our new Youth Centre’s youth engagement.”

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