Mosque with family members in Palestine encourages community to hold MPs to account over ceasefire

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

The self-titled biggest mosque in Western Europe is encouraging its community to hold politicians to account and attend marches following its local MP’s abstention from a ceasefire vote in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The Baitul Futuh mosque, which serves South London’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community in London Road, Morden, also has a number of members who currently have family trapped in Palestine.

Since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the mosque has heavily advocated for a ceasefire and has hosted a number of events that have attempted to bring south London’s Muslim and Jewish communities together.

The Mosque has hosted a number of interfaith events following the attack on October 7 (Picture: Ahmadiyya Muslim)

Usman Shahzad Butt, who serves as the Imam for the Southfields Ahmadiyya mosque said: “We are on the side of ceasefire and peace.”

“There has to be representation for peace over taking sides and deciding who’s right and wrong. That’s not important, right now we need to know the facts, and they are that innocent people, men, women and children, are dying. We have to stop that. We were one of the first communities to first call for a ceasefire.

“That is why the prayers for peace event was held on November 5, where we brought members of local synagogues and the Church of England together. Even saying the word ceasefire was a dirty word, there were some groups that were rightly angry about the situation. However, the conversation has moved on since then.”

The Ahmadiyya community also has its own charity that is currently accepting donations for victims of the conflict.

But according to Mahmood Rafiq, a city worker and regular volunteer at the mosque, its efforts are being stifled by the absence of a safe humanitarian corridor.

He said: “Our community has an established charity called Humanity First. That charity provides unconditional aid across the world. I know at the moment there are some difficulties in getting aid out to the people that need it, but the charity is working day and night to do all it can.”

During last Wednesday’s parliamentary vote on whether to back a ceasefire, 231 MP’s chose to abstain.

The MP for Morden and Mitcham, Siobhain McDonagh, was one of them. When asked whether he agreed with her decision, the Imam said: “I think all leaders, not just Siobhain, have a responsibility to know that if they are not acting in the right way the end will be global destruction. They need to look further than what is happening right now.”

The mosque has also been encouraging its sizeable young community to hold their MPs accountable through a letter writing campaign.

Alongside its spiritual interest in ending the conflict, the mosque also has a personal connection to the events in Israel and Palestine.

According to Mahmood, the mosque has a number of families that have relatives currently living in Palestine. Mahmood said: “They are very concerned about their families’ safety, and it is a concern that is constantly top of mind for them.

“Unfortunately, some members have lost close family members.  Trying to stay in touch and get updates is hard due to the conflict and internet connectivity.”

The mosque, situated in London Road next to Morden train station, was completed in 2003 at a cost of £15 million. This money was raised entirely from donations of Ahmadi Muslims. The mosque can accommodate a total of 13,000 worshippers, many of whom arrive from the nearby Modern tube station or adjoining Modern rail station.

Pictured top: From left, Imam Usman Shahzad Butt and Mahmood Rafiq of the Baitul Futuh mosque in Morden (Picture: Harrison Galliven)

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