The Blue Mosque of Iran's Hamburg Islamic Center

Iranian Regime’s Influence Outlets In Europe Come Under Pressure

Wednesday, 05/10/2023
Maryam Sinaiee

British Iranian journalist and political analyst

A Muslim group in Germany, Secular Islam Association, has urged authorities to immediately ban Iran’s Islamic Center of Hamburg and shut down its Imam Ali Mosque. 

In a letter to Germany’s Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser last week seen by the German daily Die Welt, the head of the association, Necla (Nejla) Kelek, also demanded the government to stop cooperation with a major group, the Central Council of Muslims (ZMD), at least as long as it cooperates with the Islamic Center of Hamburg, known by its German abbreviation IZH for Islamische Zentrum Hamburg. 

In her letter, Kelek referred to IZH’s connections with the Hezbollah of Lebanon and the activities of Soleiman Mousavifar, the former deputy head of IZH, who was expelled from Germany along with his family in June 2022 for his support for militant Shiite groups and organizations

The Hamburg Administrative Court on April 27 held its first hearing in a lawsuit brought by IZH against the city of Hamburg for being classified as an extremist organization by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, a security organization known as Hamburger Verfassungsschutz (HV) in German. 

Soleiman Mousavifar, the former deputy head of Iran's Hamburg Islamic Center (IZH)

HV has been monitoring IZH since 1993 due to its connections with groups such as the Lebanese Hezbollah which is also banned in Germany and for ties to the Iranian regime.

Philipp Woldin, the managing editor of Die Welt Hamburg, alleged in an article in 2021 that the IZH is Iran’s most “important propaganda center" in Europe, and it sends busloads of pro-Iranian and pro-Hezbollah activists to Berlin to participate in the annual al-Quds rallies.

IZH runs one of the oldest mosques in Germany and Europe, known as the Blue Mosque on the Alster, which has been administered by Iran’s government since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. 

Calling IZH “the [Iranian] regime’s most important spy nest in Germany,” Omid Nouripour of Iranian descent and leader of Germany’s Green Party, has also repeatedly called for its closure

The Hamburg Shura Council, an association of Muslim organizations that represents around 40 mosque communities and other Islamic institutions in the city, in January 2022 removed the Hamburg Islamic Center from its board of directors for supporting IRGC’s Quds Force former commander Qasem Soleimani and allegations that the center is Iran’s “long terrorist arm” in Europe after German intelligence confirmed connections to Iran’s leader Ali Khamenei as well as Hezbollah, both designated as terrorist entities by the US and EU.

The Islamic Centre of England in London's Maida Vale is another Iranian regime affiliated religious organization in Europe undergoing a statutory inquiry by Britain’s Charity Commission over "serious governance concerns" and failure to comply with previous rulings.

Britain’s Security Minister Tom Tugendhat told the Times in March that the government was “pulling together” to deal with “this vile threat that’s taken over a country and is now threatening ours.” 

The British minister had previously warned that "interference, threat and influence" by the Islamic Republic of Iran on British soil has increased alarmingly.

“Sadly, the Islamic Centre for England is not alone and the work of the IRGC is not limited to those Iranian proxy organizations.”

It was revealed in 2021 that the Islamic Centre of England in London run by the UK representative of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had received more than £100,000 in coronavirus aid from the British government’s coronavirus job retention scheme.

The Islamic Republic, controlled by Khamenei, does not allow the presence of international institutions or non-governmental organizations in Iran, but it directly and indirectly has a network of associations and offices around the world, including Western countries.

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