LEYTON: Mosque elections delayed as 'women excluded' (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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LEYTON: Mosque elections delayed as 'women excluded'
4:37pm Friday 10th July 2009 in News
ELECTIONS for a new committee at the embattled Lea Bridge Road mosque have been postponed after it was discovered women could not vote.
Following a meeting of the election committee, which includes members of the two rival groups at mosque, it was found that there was a breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.
Those wishing to vote had to register themselves at the mosque as Sunni Brailvi Muslims but registration did not include women.
It was reopened after women from the mosque submitted a petition to borough commander Ch Supt Mark Benbow, who heads the election committee.
A member of the current committee of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association (WFIA), who did not wish to be named for fear of repercussions, said: “The petition was received on July 8.
“It's against the law in this country to exclude women from voting.”
Scuffles also broke after the announcement of the delay was made as each group blamed the other, the committee member said.
He also claimed the opposition group was at fault for excluding women in the first place – an accusation the group fiercely denied.
Tariq Mahmood, who acts as spokesman for the opposition group, said: “I feel strongly that this is a move to sabotage and delay the election.
“I just wish these women had woken up six weeks earlier so that we could have entertained them then.”
Mr Mahmood added that extra costs would be incurred because of the delay, which would have to be met by WFIA funds.
Voting was set to take place on July 12 following three months of police mediation, which concluded in May.
The election will now be held on August 16, more than a month later than planned.
The WFIA's committee governs the mosque and has been locked in a power struggle with an opposition group since 2006.
Opposition group members claimed the committee refused to hold elections or an AGM and problems escalated when some of its supporters were barred from the mosque this year.
The committee has continued to defend its position, saying it was always willing to hold elections.
A number of protests were held and the Charity Commission also launched an inquiry into the purchase of a building using WFIA funds.
A report detailing the inquiry's findings has yet to be published.
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