Fears raised over controversial speakers at Muslim Centre

Fears were raised that controversial speakers were lined up to appear a Muslim centre conference over the weekend – but the organisers insisted no banned individual was present.

Up to 1,500 East Enders turned up at the London Muslim Centre in Whitechapel on Sunday to hear speakers from Islamic educational organisation the Tayyibun Institute.

Concerns were raised with both Tower Hamlets Council and the police that divisive speakers were to be hosted at the annual conference.

Saudi cleric Shaykh Al Barrak, who has a reputation for issuing hardline fatwas including ones on strict gender segregation, was one figure who raised concern.

He was one of the clerics who ruled against praying behind Dr Usama Hasan, vice-chairman at Leyton mosque, after he discussed his views on evolution and women’s right to refuse to wear the veil.

The Tayyibun Institute said Al Barrak did not speak – not because he was banned from doing so but because there was not enough time.

Abu Ayman, the institute’s senior administrator, said: “He is not banned. If there was an issue that someone was doing something illegal - and I stress illegal, not just a difference of opinion - then we will take action.

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“I would invite these individual to attend our events so they can hear the discussion for themselves and see the amount of females to males. Seventy per cent of our institute are female.”

Tower Hamlets Council said after talks with the organisers it got confirmation that no banned speakers would be appearing.

A spokesman said: “We have been working closely with the London Muslim Centre, who are signatories to the borough’s No Place for Hate pledge, to ensure that the event is managed in line with their commitment to work towards good relations between communities and that these concerns are taken on board in managing this booking.”

Earlier this year, the council stopped speaker Abu Abdissalam from co-hosting a child-rearing seminar for Muslim mothers in the East End because of the nature of previous speeches he had made.