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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).
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.