Most British mosques led by foreign clerics

Britain’s mosques are run by Islamic clerics who are “physically in Britain but psychologically in Pakistan”, a new survey suggests.

The research shows that 97 per cent of imams were from overseas, with 92 per cent educated abroad, largely in Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Almost half the mosques failed to provide facilities for Muslim women, and 44 per cent were not giving a lecture in English before weekly prayers.

The research follows news last month that the Muslim population in the UK grew by 500,000 in the last four years, now standing at 2.4 million.

The work was carried out by the Quilliam Foundation, a Muslim group which seeks to combat Islamic extremism. It warns of an Islamic “underworld” in Britain.

Although it wanted to survey 1,000 of Britain’s 1,600 mosques, the Foundation said it could only poll 500 due to difficulties with making contact.

“Most British mosques don’t maintain a reception or service to answer questions, and not every one we did reach was willing to answer,” writes Quilliam’s Co-Director Ed Husain in The Times.

Mr Husain says that while most of Britain’s Muslims are under 25, “Britain’s mosques are run by men who are physically in Britain, but psychologically in Pakistan.”

He says: “By importing cheap imams from poor, intellectually deprived and theologically conservative places mosques put young Britons in the hands of men who do not have the linguistic or cultural backgrounds to deal with modern Britain.”

He adds: “Large numbers of British mosques are not properly registered with the Charity Commission, imams work with children without Criminal Record Bureau checks, and mosque buildings flout health and safety regulations. Would other schools or churches get away with this?”

Mr Husain warns of an Islamic “underworld” in Britain, and says almost all of the seminaries are training the next generation of imams – most of whom, unlike the current clerics, will speak English – in a highly conservative form of Islam.

He concludes: “Labour politicians are only too keen to campaign for the Muslim vote in mosques in Blackburn, Manchester and Bradford while turning a blind eye to the failure that surrounds their constituents. For how much longer?”

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