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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August, 2005, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Mosque chairman remains defiant
Mohammed Naseem
Dr Naseem has refused to withdraw his comments
The chairman of Birmingham's Central Mosque said 4,000 worshippers have voted for him to stay in his role despite calls for his resignation.

Dr Mohammed Naseem was heavily criticised last week after claiming that al-Qaeda did not exist.

He also said that there was no evidence to suggest Muslims were involved in the London bombings.

Birmingham Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood said Dr Naseem had brought the role of mosque chairman into disrepute.

I have had a lot of support not only from worshippers at the Mosque, but from people across the country both Muslim and non-Muslim
Dr Mohammed Naseem

The MP told BBC News he would now be calling for a full investigation into how the Mosque is run, its membership and how its funds are managed.

He said: "I think it is appalling the way he (Dr Naseem) has behaved and there are serious questions that need to be asked."

Dr Naseem's comments came in the wake of terror suspect Yasin Hassan Omar's arrest in the city last Wednesday, angering senior political and religious figures.

At a police news conference following the arrests he said the authorities "cannot be trusted".

In a statement on Wednesday he said he had intended no criticism of the police and that his comments related to "the political directions and the national policies".

But he remained defiant, refusing to withdraw the comments he made about the government and Tony Blair.

Elder statesman

Dr Naseem told BBC News: "I have had a lot of support not only from worshippers at the Mosque, but from people across the country both Muslim and non-Muslim and I am sticking by what I said.

"The issues I raised about openness is one of the issues many people have in this country with the government. Step by step we are becoming a dictatorship and this is worrying most people."

He added: "If they (government) have got evidence (against the bombers) the very simple route to take is to produce it before an independent court of law.

"The government has got something to hide otherwise why are they so reluctant to show the evidence."

Referring to Mr Mahmood's call for him to stand down from his position at the Mosque, Dr Naseem said it was the "silliest statement" the MP had ever made.

Referring to Dr Naseem's claim that 4,000 people had voted in favour of him to stay, Mr Mahmood said he was being "fanciful with his figures".

He added: "He has now allowed the people of Birmingham to see how out of touch he is with people."

Dr Naseem stood for the Respect-Unity Coalition in Birmingham Perry Barr during the recent general election in Mr Mahmood's constituency and received 2,173 votes.

Call for mosque chairman to quit
28 Jul 05 |  West Midlands

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