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Bangladeshi Muslims demand suspension of London imam over queen’s memorial service

A group of British-Bangladeshi Muslims have demanded the suspension of Imam Mohammed Mahmoud, who led a memorial service for the late Queen Elizabeth in London.

They gathered inside the East London Mosque after the Maghrib prayer on Saturday to protest against the imam leading the memorial service for the late queen at the London Central Mosque (Regent’s Park), where ‘God Save the King’ was sung.

Over 300 Muslims from across the UK came together at the mosque to honour the life of Queen Elizabeth and mark the accession of Britain’s King Charles III.

The event began with the school choir performing ‘Sing’ by Gary Barlow and ended with the choir leading the room into the national anthem. Seventy Muslim school students sang the anthem. This was the first time ‘God Save the King’ was performed in a national mosque.

But a group of people began a campaign on social media against Imam Mahmoud over the event. Demanding his removal, they filed a petition on a website, change.org, which more than a thousand people already signed.

“What do you expect from the person who receives a colonial award and make your children sing ‘God Save the King’? Why would you send your children to such an Imam?” the petition said.

Imam Mahmoud, who is now based at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to the community. The imam was among a record number of British Muslims named in the queen’s 2019 new year’s honours list.

Imam Mahmoud jumped to the defence of the Finsbury Park terror attacker in 2017, moments after he ploughed his van into worshippers. The mosque attack killed 51-year-old Makram Ali, and injured nine others, but the imam received global attention when he shielded far-right attacker Darren Osborne from angry worshippers. He kept the crowd from hurting Osborne by standing in front of him until the police arrived.

Speaking to Bangla-language Weekly Janomot’s former editor Nobab Uddin said: “We’re living in a multifaith, multicultural society. And we have to abide by the law of the land.”

“For me, Imam Mahmoud did nothing wrong. He was invited there as a guest and he sang the national anthem as a citizen of this country. If you represent your country and you win a medal in the Olympics, you have to sing the national anthem.”

Nobab saw this as “an attempt to create disharmony among the Muslims in the UK”.

“As Imam Mahmoud’s employer, the management of the East London Mosque will have to take a decision. They have to see if he has breached his employment contract, which I don’t think he has,” added the prominent personality of the British-Bangladeshi community in London.