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Saturday, 10 July 2010


AN investigation has been launched into allegations that children have been assaulted at one of Bolton’s oldest mosques.

Police, Bolton Council and the Charity Commission are looking into a number of claims about activities at the Zakariyya Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre in Peace Street, Daubhill — all of which were last night strenuously denied by trustees.

A letter sent to the trustees by the Charity Commission, which monitors the activities of charities, has confirmed one element of the investigation “involves allegations of abuse of children”.

A second strand of the investigation follows allegations relating to the internal workings of the mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, which was established in 1967.

These include disputes surrounding the election procedures, the voting procedures and the removal of members.

Last night, a mosque committee member said: “There have been some allegations made to certain authorities and they are making inquiries.

“We are assisting the statutory authorities with their investigation. There is total denial on our part and we do not want to say anything that may jeopardise the inquiries.”

The news broke on the day that the mosque received a Marque of Excellence from the North West Multi-Faith Tourism Association.

The committee member said: “It is a shame that someone is trying to throw the spanner in the works when we get an award like this. A lot of people work very hard here.”

The letter, which was shown to The Bolton News, states: “We have received a complaint alleging that children had been assaulted...and that the charity fails to carry out CRB checks on all of its members who have contact with the children, including members of the Executive committee.”

Officials at the mosque have confirmed that the abuse allegations are of a physical, not sexual, nature.

The Bolton News understands they relate to children who attend the Madrassah Khaliliyyah Rashadiyya, which provides religious teachings to children after school.

The Zakariyya Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre was founded in 1967, about 10 years after Muslims started settling in Bolton.

Its current building, which cost £3 million and was funded entirely by the Muslim community of Bolton, was opened in 2005.

As well as being Bolton’s biggest mosque, with a capacity for up to 3,000 worshippers, it also acts as Jaame, or regional mosque, for the Greater Manchester and Lancashire area.

Greater Manchester Police, Bolton Council and the Charity Commission have all released individual statements confirming that they were investigating the claims.

A spokesman for GMP said: “Greater Manchester Police have received reports of an allegation of assault at a mosque in Bolton. Bolton public protection and investigation unit are currently investigating the complaint. Inquiries are ongoing.”

A Charity Commission spokesman said: “Concerns have been raised with the Charity Commission regarding the Islamic Cultural Centre Zakariyya Mosque Bolton.

“We have written to the charity trustees and opened an investigation in relation to the concerns raised.”

A spokesman for Bolton Council confirmed the authority had opened a joint inquiry with police but would not comment further.