Mosque told to remove video allegedly endorsing Labour candidate

The Charity Commission has told the Central Jamia Masjid Southall, in London, to take down from YouTube a video that apparently endorsed Virendra Sharma

The mosque in Southall
The mosque in Southall

The Charity Commission has told a west London mosque to remove a YouTube video in which it apparently advocated voting for a local Labour Party candidate.

The regulator received a complaint alleging that the Central Jamia Masjid Southall posted a video on YouTube of a meeting in which an endorsement was made of the local Labour candidate, Virendra Sharma, before today’s general election.

The complainant alleged that the video, which has been taken down, showed a political event at the mosque in which the trustees allegedly endorsed Sharma, with Pakistani media in attendance.

Sharma has been the MP for Ealing Southall since 2007, when he won a by-election after the death of the area’s previous Labour MP, Piara Khabra.

The Charity Commission’s guidance on campaigning and political activity for charities states that political campaigning can be carried out only in support of the delivery of a charity’s charitable purposes.

The guidance says charities must stress their independence and ensure any involvement they have with political parties is balanced, which means they must not give support or funding to a particular party, candidate or politician.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "The commission received a complaint in May 2017 regarding Central Jamia Masjid Southall breaching the commission’s guidance on campaigning and political activity. The commission contacted the charity and requested that the charity immediately withdraw its endorsement of a political candidate.

"The commission’s guidance is clear that charities must not and cannot endorse political candidates. The commission’s case is ongoing."

Central Jamia Masjid Southall could not be contacted for comment on Thursday morning.

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