Dr Bari replies to Nick Cohen’s smears

In a letter published in today’s Observer the Chairman of the East London Mosque replies to Nick Cohen’s rant in last week’s issue:

The findings of University College London’s thorough inquiry into the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab affair were presented in a clear, insightful report. Disappointed at the outcome, Nick Cohen chose to attack me personally.

Through the usual tactic of guilt by tenuous association, Nick Cohen brands me, in all but name, an extremist, a label I utterly reject. I abhor extremism of any kind and continue to work tirelessly to bring communities together.

Cohen labours hard to smear the East London Mosque, where I am currently the chairman. In his latest diatribe, he wrongly claims the mosque is dominated by Jamaat-e-Islami. I hold no brief for Jamaat-e-Islami. The East London Mosque is run by British Muslims of diverse backgrounds, with deep roots in the community, who expend time and energy to make it an institution that is welcoming to all faiths and none.

Cohen fails to mention that the “Saudi preacher” he refers to is Sheikh as-Sudais, a leading imam at Islam’s holiest sanctuary in Makkah. The remarks attributed to him have never been uttered at the East London Mosque and I have no hesitation in dissociating myself and our mosque from such views.

Extremism and bigotry of any kind are to be confronted. Nick Cohen would do well to reflect on his own divisive rhetoric.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari
Chairman, East London Mosque