A mosque in north London has become the second Muslim charity to receive a letter from HSBC saying its bank accounts will be closed because its activities fall outside the bank’s "risk appetite".
The Finsbury Park Mosque received a letter on 22 July similar to the one sent to the Islamic international aid charity the Ummah Welfare Trust, which said eight of its bank accounts would be closed by the bank.
Finsbury Park Mosque’s activities include daily prayers, a youth club, a weekly Islamic supplementary school and fatwa services for the Muslim community, according to the Charity Commission website.
Khalid Oumar, one of the trustees of the mosque, said it was "unacceptable" and "clearly discriminatory" that his charity had received the letter, which he said offered no explanation as to why its activities fell outside the bank’s risk appetite.
He said the mosque was writing to HSBC asking for an explanation and that it intended to unite the Islamic community, through a petition or demonstration, to appeal against the bank’s decision. Oumar said the charity had clearly demonstrated that it was a force for good in the local area and that the local Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, recognised this.
An HSBC spokesman said the bank did not discuss customer relationships with third parties.
"Decisions to end a customer relationship are not taken lightly, but are absolutely not based on the race or religion of a customer," he said. "HSBC has comprehensive rules and policies in place to ensure race or religion are never factors in the decisions we make."
Last week, the Muslim Charities Forum said the decision to close the UWT’s accounts was of "grave concern".
A spokesman said today that the MCF’s position on the matter had not changed and it was considering what advice to give to Muslim charities. He said it was unaware of any other charities that had received letters from HSBC.
The BBC News website reported that the founder of the Cordoba Foundation, a non-charitable think tank on Islamic issues, had also received account shutdown letters from HSBC, as had members of his family.
Anas Altikriti, who is also chief executive of the organisation, said on Twitter: "We've all heard that #HSBC has also closed down accounts for Finsbury Park Mosque, @UWT_UK & the @CordobaFoundation. Who next?!"
Others on Twitter said the move constituted Islamophobia and religious discrimination by HSBC.
The news comes soon after Sir Stephen Bubb, head of the charity chief executives body Acevo, said there was a perception among Muslim charity leaders that they were being targeted disproportionately by the Charity Commission. The commission rejected any suggestion of bias in its work.
The Ummah Welfare Trust, which is urging supporters to email or telephone the bank or tweet using the hashtag #LobbyHSBCforGaza to ask HSBC to reverse its decision, was told by Barclays in 2009 that its bank account would be closed. Corbyn said at the time that charities providing Palestinian aid were victims of a "sinister agenda".