The Charity Commission has issued an official warning to the Islamic Centre of England Ltd after it found that the trustees allowed a vigil to be held at the charity’s premises in response to the death of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani had been subject to financial sanctions by HM Treasury for terrorism and/or terrorist financing.
He was the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards and was killed in a US air strike on his convoy near Baghdad International Airport.
The Islamic Centre of England Ltd was set up to advance the religion of Islam and education among the Muslim community, and operates in London.
Event appeared to praise and call for support for Soleimani
In January 2020, the trustees held a candlelit vigil at the charity's West London premises in response to the death of Soleimani.
The regulator has said the event risked associating the charity with a speaker who may have committed an offence under the Terrorism Acts, as the speaker was filmed during the event appearing to praise and call for support for Soleimani. The regulator said the trustees failed to intervene or provide a counter-narrative.
The following day the trustees organised a further event for Soleimani and published statements on the charity’s website “offering condolence and praise for him”.
The regulator found that the trustees failed to take account of regulatory advice and guidance issued by the Commission in January 2015 regarding the hosting of public events and the selection of speakers.
Its warning requires the trustees to take specific steps to review content on the charity’s website and ensure that appropriate consideration is given, and risk assessments conducted for, any future events held at the charity’s premises.
'Any charity being associated with terrorism is completely unacceptable'
Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, said: “Through their actions the trustees have failed in their legal duties towards this charity, putting its reputation at risk. Any charity being associated with terrorism is completely unacceptable and we are concerned by the corrosive effect this might have on public confidence in this and other charities.
“Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society, so it is vital that trustees honour their responsibility to act in the best interests of their charity at all times. We expect the charity’s trustees to comply with the required actions to address our concerns”.
The Commission has an ongoing regulatory case into the Islamic Centre of England Ltd.