An adulterous woman must first be buried up to her waist, “in order to protect her modesty”, and only then pelted with stones until her death is caused: this is the “correct” practice for stoning, at least according to the instructions given to the faithful by the chief imam of the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham. The video of the sermon, which went viral on YouTube, caused outrage and shock in Britain and was later withdrawn. The reaction of the English authorities – as some British media report today – came a few weeks later, with the blocking of 2.2 million pounds of non-repayable government funding intended for the mosque, which had already appeared in the news in the past ‘over the Channel comand a point of reference for the most extreme Islamic fundamentalism in England’s second cityso much so that he took the lion’s share in a documentary a few years ago on radicalism produced by the Channel 4 broadcaster.
In recent years Green Lane had tried to change course to bury that stormy past, but evidently it wasn’t enough. The British government, writes the Birmingham Live website, froze public funds that were used to finance a youth center connected to the Green Lane Mosque. Funds – the ultra-conservative tabloid Daily Mail caustically comments – approved by “clumsy” public officials. They were approved after security checks on the mosque by an independent body, the Social Investment Business (Sib) led by former Labor minister Hazel Blears. Obviously before the technical lesson on the “correct stoning” of Imam Sheikh Zakaullah Saleem. The people in charge of the mosque – reports Birmingham Live – are now trying to take action and convince the Culture, Media and Sport department to go back on its decision to block the funds: the video was poorly edited, the sentences taken out of context and proposed to form a “misleading” message, they defend themselves at the Green Lane Mosque, where the police have offered to strengthen security after the wave of threats and messages of hatred towards Muslims.
But the stoning video is not the only one produced by the fervent preachers hosted by the mosque: the same imam had incited the British authorities to take legal action against a teacher ‘guilty of having shown images (prohibited by Islam) of the prophet Muhammad in class. Another religious man explained in a sermon that a woman must accommodate her husband’s “sexual needs” whenever the latter wishes, thus also justifying rape within the home. The most influential and controversial imam of the Birmingham institution, Abu Usamah al-Thahabi, in the Channel 4 documentary instead incited the faithful against the ‘kuffar’, the infidels, prophesying the approach of the ‘jihad’, the holy war. «Mistakes have been made in the past – continued the Green Lane Mosque in its defense – but since then there have been changes, in personnel and in approach, and we now have stringent protocols aimed at supporting and growing the community. We would not incite or allow others to incite violence.” However, the shock of the stoning lesson seems to have frustrated their efforts.