Haitham Al-Haddad says Islamophobia cancelled Legoland day

An imam who had planned a day out for Muslim families at Legoland in Windsor has blamed “extreme Islamophobia” for the event being cancelled.

Haitham Al-Haddad said his group privately hired the theme park for a day of “halal food and no alcohol”. But the event was cancelled and the resort had to temporarily close its hotel after receiving threats from right-wing groups. The English Defence League (EDL) had called Mr Al-Haddad “a hate preacher”.

Mr Al-Haddad chairs the Muslim Research and Development foundation (MRDF), which had planned the family day at the theme park for 9 March while the resort was still closed to the public. The imam and scholar has been described by some media outlets as an “extremist preacher” – something he strongly denies.

The EDL criticised the resort for allowing the theme park to be hired for the event. Posts on the group’s Facebook page suggested it would hold a demonstration at Legoland on the day.

Mr Al-Haddad told the BBC Asian Network that the Muslim community had been “victimised because of extreme Islamophobic attitudes by some in the UK”. He added: “Imagine all the children and families who just wanted to enjoy a day out, imagine the level of frustration they felt by this. We were also planning to put on some music and entertainment that is part of the Islamic culture. We welcomed everyone to enjoy our halal day of fun and to experience how we as Muslims live.”

Legoland said a “small group” had spread “deliberate misinformation” about the event to stop it going ahead. The park decided to cancel after discussions with Thames Valley Police.

BBC News, 17 March 2014