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Row over legitimacy of mosque committee

A row has erupted over the legitimacy of the elected committee at the Waltham Forest Islamic Association (WFIA).

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Worshippers gather at Lea Bridge Road Mosque File image.

The constitution of the association, which runs Lea Bridge Road Mosque, states that a committee should stand for just three years, but the current group has been in power for four years without an election.

Committee members acknowledge it has exceeded its tenure, but added that it is legitimate.
Senior committee member Asghar Ali said: “There is no irregularity about it. We are the legitimate elected committee, regulated by the Charity Commission.”

He claims they had wanted to hold elections last November, as they were bound to do, but it emerged that opposition members had registered illegitimate voters from outside the borough.

Mr Ali said: “We discussed in a committee meeting that the membership was not truly representative at the moment, so it was decided that the best way forward is to write to the Charities Commission and let them give us a ruling.”

The commission wrote back saying if the suspect membership was used in elections it would nullify any decisions taken by the committee, he said.

The Charity Commission confirmed that in August it issued an order allowing elections to take place in November.

Opposition member Irfan Akhtar, who has been involved with the mosque for over a decade and whose own membership was denied on Saturday, claims the committee is now denying legitimate voters the chance to have a say in the running of the mosque.

The committee amended the constitution to include a clause allowing only those who are affiliated with WFIA to vote.

Many opposition members are concerned that this will allow the committee to pick and choose members as it sees fit due to the unspecific nature of the criteria.

It is claimed that 150 people were denied becoming members on Monday.

The move goes against voting criteria outlined in the previous constitution stating only that a person must be over 16, a resident of the borough and a Muslim.

Mr Akhtar said the committee added the condition without support of the constitution and opposition, but the committee says the changes were agreed by all parties and reflect similar changes at other mosques in the borough.

“We have still kept this mosque open to the public and want to keep it as a public association, but only those affiliated can become members,” Mr Asghar said.

The deadline for new members is November 17. Following the completion of member registration a six-week notice period must be given before elections.


Comments (5)

09/11/13

Billy Yerache says...

Middle East in fighting comes to Waltham Forest?

10/11/13

OngarRS says...

if that picture is anything to go by, it doesn't look like any women are in the committee. Is this allowed if it is regulated by the Charities Commission. Why bleat about lack of elections when they are discriminating against half the population on the basis of gender. Great Britain in 2013 - back to the dark ages!

10/11/13

Billy Yerache says...

They need a strong 'Chair' to take charge and sort the dispute out.

Someone like Colin Crompton who ran the Wheeltappers and Shunters Club.

11/11/13

mdj says...

A year or two ago the local police chief was called upon to mediate between the different factions at this mosque; as an outsider, one's limited in the ability to comment, except to reflect that this doesn't happen very often at the Friends' Meeting House.
According to Private Eye, one-third of our Councillors worship at this mosque, while only 22% of the population are actually Muslim, and other Muslim Councillors may worship elsewhere.
How happy would we be if this statistic applied to a local Lodge, or golf club, or indeed any other group not open to public scrutiny?

It reminds one of the old Hollywood in-joke:
'Got to go: I'll be late for my Al-Anon meeting';
'Al-Anon? Didn't know you had a problem';
' I don't, but that's where the deals are going down these days.'

12/11/13

Walthamster says...

mdj wrote:
A year or two ago the local police chief was called upon to mediate between the different factions at this mosque; as an outsider, one's limited in the ability to comment, except to reflect that this doesn't happen very often at the Friends' Meeting House.
According to Private Eye, one-third of our Councillors worship at this mosque, while only 22% of the population are actually Muslim, and other Muslim Councillors may worship elsewhere.
How happy would we be if this statistic applied to a local Lodge, or golf club, or indeed any other group not open to public scrutiny?

It reminds one of the old Hollywood in-joke:
'Got to go: I'll be late for my Al-Anon meeting';
'Al-Anon? Didn't know you had a problem';
' I don't, but that's where the deals are going down these days.'
It's bad news for democracy if a large number of Waltham Forest Councillors worship at this mosque.
That's not only unrepresentative of the vast majority of the population, which is not Muslim. They're not even representative of all the Muslims, as some worship elsewhere.

With its committee amending the constitution to "pick and choose members as it sees fit due to the unspecific nature of the criteria", the mosque seems to be riven with political infighting.

That suggests there are real political or other gains to be made by the winners. Otherwise who would bother fighting? But if you're not muslim, you are excluded from this power group.

The people of Waltham Forest should not be governed by an unrepresentative, undemocratic clique.

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