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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

UAE’s targeted smear campaign against Didsbury Mosque

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) smear campaign against Didsbury Mosque post-Manchester bombing, the truth amidst media manipulation

In 2017, the Manchester Islamic Centre, popularly known as Didsbury Mosque, was tragically thrown into the media spotlight due to its proximity to the devastating Manchester Arena bombing. However, what came to light later was an alarming revelation: the mosque had been the subject of a sinister smear campaign orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government. Through a Swiss private intelligence firm, Alp Services, hired by Abu Dhabi, a web of false connections was woven between the mosque, the attack, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Smear Campaign Unveiled

Thousands of leaked documents shared with media outlets exposed a targeted campaign against Didsbury Mosque and several other Muslim organizations across Europe. The campaign involved publishing online articles using fake identities that falsely linked the mosque to the Manchester bombing, the Muslim Brotherhood, and even the Islamic State (IS) group. It sought to tarnish the mosque’s reputation and credibility, ultimately implicating it in the tragedy.

Read More: Message from H.E. Hamad Obaid Al-Zaabi, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates

Haffar’s Response

Fawzi Haffar, the chair of Didsbury Mosque, expressed his lack of surprise at the smear campaign’s revelation. He dismissed any association with the Muslim Brotherhood and revealed that the mosque had already been smeared in leaked documents published in Arabic media prior to this incident.

Graf’s Ordeal

Mustafa Graf, a former imam at the mosque, believed that the campaign against him was motivated by his support for democracy in Libya, a stance conflicting with the Emirati backing for Khalifa Haftar. The campaign aimed to link him to the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the UAE due to its alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Impact on Didsbury Mosque

The smear campaign exacerbated scrutiny of Didsbury Mosque following the official inquiry into the Manchester Arena bombing. Though the inquiry concluded that the mosque played no role in radicalizing the bomber, it criticized the mosque’s leadership for not effectively addressing the toxic political environment surrounding Libyan conflicts.

Mosque’s Defense

Didsbury Mosque and its trustees refuted the allegations, asserting that they have always maintained a moderate and mainstream approach to Islam. Despite the scrutiny and unfounded accusations, the mosque continued to serve its community diligently.

Dubai-UK Connection

The UAE’s alleged involvement in orchestrating the smear campaign raises concerns about its activities beyond its borders. Similar tactics targeting individuals and organizations with alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood have been reported in other cases, indicating a pattern of misinformation campaigns.

Read More: New Spider-Man film will not be screened in UAE, as region debates values

The revelation of the UAE’s orchestrated smear campaign against Didsbury Mosque sent shockwaves through the international community. This calculated attempt to associate the mosque with extremist ideologies not only damaged its reputation but also highlighted the need for vigilance against disinformation campaigns. As the mosque continues its service to the community, this episode serves as a stark reminder of the importance of critical media literacy and the responsible use of information in an interconnected world. The impact of such campaigns may linger, but the resilience of the mosque and its trustees stands as a testament to their commitment to truth and unity.