London synagogue sold to Muslim group tied to antisemitic figures

Founder of organization has called Jews ‘Islam’s enemies’ and it hosted an antisemitic speaker; group has apologized for flyer saying the building previously housed ‘non-believers’

The Wembley United Synagogue building in London. (Google Street View)
The Wembley United Synagogue building in London. (Google Street View)

A Muslim group buying a historic London synagogue has apologized after a leaflet seeking donations called the location “a former place of worship for non-believers.”

The Pakistan-based charity Dawat-e-Islami said the brochure was poorly worded, and only meant to say that the previous worshipers were not of the Muslim faith.

But the sale of the Wembley Synagogue building has invited further scrutiny, with The Jewish Chronicle reporting that the organization has problematic ties to antisemitic figures.

A founder of the group, Muhammad Ilyas Attar Qadri, has called Jews “Islam’s enemies,” favors boycotting Jewish products and has called not to “imitate the Jews” by shaving.

In 2021, it hosted Shaykh Asrar Rashid, a UK preacher who last year said Adolf Hitler “did a favor for the Jews” by boosting European sympathies, which enabled them to establish the Jewish state. He added that the Jews at the time “of course held all the politicians in their pockets.”

A former rabbi for United Synagogue, which had owned the Wembley shul since the 1930s and recently sold it to Dawat-e-Islami, told the JC it was “the height of insult for the synagogue to be sold to a group which openly describes Jews as ‘non-believers.'”

“This goes against the principle of having respect for members of other faiths… all avenues should be explored to stop this sale,” Martin van den Bergh said.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism said it would be seeking an investigation into “the disturbing allegations that [the organization’s] Midlands branch hosted a preacher accused of claiming Hitler did Jews ‘a favor and that its founder called on Muslims to boycott Jewish goods.”

United Synagogue, meanwhile, has insisted it carried out “robust due diligence processes” before deciding on the sale, and noted the group’s apology over the flyer.

“All the professional advice we received, as well as our own checks, indicated that this is a reputable and relatively large UK charity,” it said.

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