UK government issues official warning for Soleimani vigil at London Islamic center

Flowers lie around a portrait of Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in an airstrike near Baghdad, at the Iranian embassy's fence in Minsk, Belarus on January 10, 2020. (Reuters)

An Iran-affiliated London-based Islamic center was issued an official warning by the charity regulator for holding a memorial service for slain Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and describing him as a “great martyr” earlier this year.

The Islamic Center of England (ICE), run by the UK representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, praised Soleimani on its website and held a vigil to mourn his death at its headquarters in London in January, an event that was also attended by Iran’s ambassador to London.

“We are very fortunate to live at a time to see, touch and feel a man like Soleimani and we hope and we pray and we work hard to make sure that there will be many, many more Qassem Soleimanis,” Massoud Shadjareh, the head of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), was filmed saying at the event.

IHRC organises the annual Quds Day rallies in the UK, an event launched by former Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan during which demonstrators condemn countries Iran views as “enemies.”

“We inspire to become like him, we are jealous [of] his [martyrdom], and we want the same thing for ourselves and our loved ones,” Shadjareh added.

Soleimani, who headed the Quds Force, the overseas arms of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed alongside Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes in a US airstrike at Baghdad’s international airport on January 3.

In a statement on its website, the ICE had described Soleimani and al-Mohandes as “great martyrs.”

The ICE has been given an official warning and has been ordered to review the content on its website by the Charity Commission, an independent government department that registers and regulates charities in England and Wales.

The Charity Commission pointed out that Soleimani had been under UK sanctions for terrorism and terrorist financing since 2011.

“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,” Tim Hopkins, assistant director of investigations and inquiries at the Charity Commission, was quoted as saying on the UK government website.

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Last Update: Monday, 22 June 2020 KSA 19:26 - GMT 16:26
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