LEYTON: Row continues at mosque as inquiry launched (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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LEYTON: Row continues at mosque as inquiry launched
AN inquiry has been launched into the bitter power struggle at Lea Bridge Road mosque.
The Charity Commission launched the investigation after an agreement could not be reached between rival factions over who should control The Waltham Forest Islamic Association (WFIA), which controls the mosque and its finances.
A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: “Against the background of previous engagement with the WFIA about the lack of a validly appointed trustee body, the inquiry was opened as a result of concerns relating to the purchase of property by the charity.”
The building, in Grove Green Road, Walthamstow, was bought using £1.5million of mosque money on February 13.
But the rival groups at the mosque cannot agree over whether the building, intended to become a specialist Islamic school for girls, should have been bought at all.
Tariq Mahmood, 52, a businessman of Leyton, belongs to the group opposing the current committee and believes the funds were misused, sparking protests and anger from members of his group.
He has also claimed that the committee in place now are there “illegally” and that they have refused to hold fair elections.
But he added that there is now some confusion over exactly what the Charity Commission are investigating.
He said: “We don’t know where we stand - the Charity Commission are saying one thing and the people in the mosque are saying another.
“We don’t know who’s doing what. My colleagues are trying to get in touch with the Charity Commission but we haven’t had a response yet.”
But members of the ruling committee claim the community at the mosque were “crying out” for a school for girls and that they were acting in their interests.
Imtiaz Qadir, 51, works in management at the Active Change Foundation and is a member of the disputed committee.
He said: “It’s going to be committed for Muslim girls and in our view this is a really big achievement.
“We’ve been stopped in the street and congratulated for getting the building secured.”
Raja Sabir Khan, the president of the committee, added that he feels mistakes were made by the Charity Commission and that the committee has never refused to hold an election.
He said: “We’ve done everything according to the mosque’s constitution - no one should make demands outside that.”
The long-running and complex row escalated when the faction opposing the current committee were barred from entering the mosque last month.