​London Islamic school shut down, govt accused of ‘witch hunt’

Reuters / Darren Staples
An Islamic academy and tuition center in London has been closed down, with the college alleging it was the target of a “government witch-hunt” against British Muslims.

The Siddeeq Academy in Whitechapel provided support for Muslim families who wished to teach their children in an Islamic way.

The college was closed down following the arrest of its director, Mizanur Rahman, in September by the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command. During the raid, nine men were arrested including radical Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary.

The college stated it was with “great sadness” that they were forced to close, but that it was not motivated by a “lack of business and profit.”

“This is a sad end to a very beneficial business, as a result of what can only be described as a government witch-hunt targeting the Muslim community, including completely legal Muslim businesses such as Siddeeq Academy,” the college wrote in a statement online.

“No wrong-doing or illegal activity has been found on the part of Siddeeq Academy and there is no legal impediment to our continuing to operate as a tuition center.”

Reuters / Neil Hall

British authorities claimed the college had created a “hostile environment” which would made it “near impossible” to continue operating.

While Tower Hamlets council expressed concern over the college, it said it had no responsibility over the center because it was a private institution.

Tower Hamlets council also said they had raised concerns with the Department for Education (DfE).

“The council has reported its concerns about this tuition center to the DfE. As local education authority, Tower Hamlets council has no jurisdiction over non-maintained schools or private tuition centers,” the council said.

While the DfE said it was aware of police investigations in October 2013 into the academy, but did not comment further.

On Wednesday, the South East Counter Terrorism Unit detained a 40-year-old man in West Sussex under the Terrorism Act, in relation to activities overseas.

In a statement, the SECTU said the man would undergo a ‘normal’ investigation, and was not an “immediate threat to local communities or anywhere else in the UK.”