The UK government vowed to tackle the Islamic Republic of Iran’s “vile” activities in the country after a media investigation exposed hate speech among speakers at a British charity run by a representative of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Analysis of the sheikhs listed as speakers at the Islamic Centre of England shows that some have called for “academic jihad” in schools, the eradication of Western “empires” and the “compassionate” killing of gay people, the Times newspaper reported this week. Islamic scholars promoted by the center have also delivered sermons to crowds that chanted “death to England.”
During a parliamentary debate on March 20, several UK members of parliament called for the Islamic Republic’s outpost to be shut down.
Concern was raised over the center’s apparent links to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which lawmakers said should be proscribed as a terrorist organization.
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said that MEPs are “absolutely right” to be concerned about such “cultural centers” in Britain.
“The work we’ve been doing against the Iranian threat has not diminished, in fact it’s increased in recent months,” Tugendhat said.
“Sadly, the Islamic Centre for England is not alone and the work of the IRGC is not limited to those Iranian proxy organizations.”
The minister added that the government was “pulling together” to combat “this vile threat that’s taken over a country and is now threatening ours.”
Based in a former cinema in northwest London, the Islamic Centre of England is one of the leading Shia mosques in the country, the Times said.
The center, run by Seyed Mousavi, Khamenei’s UK representative, is being investigated by the UK Charity Commission over serious concerns about its governance, the content of its website and the events it organizes.
The Times said that the Islamic Centre of England is one of many across the UK with apparent links to the Islamic Republic.
The debate around Iran’s influence in the UK intensified after the head of the country’s domestic spy agency said in November that Iranian intelligence services made at least 10 attempts last year to kidnap or kill British nationals or individuals based in the U.K.
Plans to list the IRGC as a terrorist organization have been stalled after the Foreign Office raised concerns about keeping communication channels open with the Islamic Republic.
However, the UK has joined the European Union, the United States and other countries in issuing waves of sanctions against the organization and its members for their role in a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.
On March 20, the UK government announced it had restrictive measures “five members on the Board of Directors of the IRGC Co-operative Foundation, the body responsible for managing the IRGC’s investments.” It also targeted two senior IRGC commanders operating in Tehran and Alborz provinces for “gross human rights violations.”