The Archbishop of Canterbury, a prominent leader of the Church of England, recently hosted a cleric with connections to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Justin Welby, who holds the ceremonial position as the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion (the third-largest Christian church after the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches), welcomed Mohammad Ali Shomali, a former representative of Khamenei in the UK, at an interfaith gathering at Lambeth Palace last week.
Shomali had previously served as Khamenei's representative in the UK during his tenure as the head of the Islamic Centre of England (ICE), a London mosque currently under scrutiny by the UK Charity Commission for its role in promoting extremism.
According to the Jewish Chronicle, the guest list also included Mohammed Kozbar, a leader of the Muslim Council of Britain who praised the founder of the Hamas terror group as a “holy warrior”.
Welby has faced criticism for this meeting, which he described as "a privilege to welcome friends" with differing perspectives.
British Member of Parliament Lord Carlile KC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said the Church should have exercised greater caution when selecting partners for interfaith events. He considered it a "serious error of judgment" to engage in discussions with individuals seen as "apologists" for "extremism."
Stephen Crabb MP, the Commons Parliamentary Chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel, said, “These reports represent another painful reminder of the Iranian regime’s increasingly emboldened interference in the UK.”
On January 5, 2020, the Islamic Centre of England (ICE) had organized an event celebrating Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, responsible for supporting terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Soleimani had been killed in a US airstrike 48 hours earlier. The center referred to him as a "great martyr."
Several other events at the center featured regime representatives delivering lectures, including Seyyed Hashem Mousavi, a charity trustee described as Ali Khamenei's UK representative.