Following terrorist attacks by Islamists in Brussels, protesters from Hogar Social Madrid (Madrid Social Home) protested terror-linked Madrid mosque, the Islamic Cultural Centre.
Occupying an overpass facing the mosque, known locally as the M-30 due to its proximity to the motorway, the group used smoke canisters, fired flares and hung a banner emblazoned with the words “Today Brussels, tomorrow Madrid?”
Explaining their choice of location to protest, the group’s statement on its Facebook page slammed it as a centre of extreme Islamist ideology with links to Islamic State.
As well as being described as “not just as a ‘recruitment ground’ but effectively as operational headquarters” for the terror cell which plotted the 2004 train bombing that killed almost 200 people, the Islamic Cultural Centre was used as a jihadi recruitment hub by terror network Al-Andalus Brigade. Led by ex-Guantanamo Bay prisoner Lahcen Ikassrien, the group recruited fighters for Islamic State in Syria using the cafeteria as its base.
The statement also blasted police reports which revealed the mosque had raised significant funding for Islamic State. Demanding a “tax” from the mosque’s congregation to finance jihadists’ trips to Syria, the terrorist group received an average of 10 Euros per person.
Hogar Social Madrid, who oppose Europe’s response to the migrant crisis and warn that Islam is posing a “terrorist threat hanging over Europe”, have courted controversy in the past for distributing food and aid to only Spanish people. However, their Facebook statement argues that wanting to close the borders to refugees “is not synonymous with hatred for the outside, but of love toward us, to our people.”
In a statement to The Local, the Madrid mosque’s Imam Hussam Khoja condemned the Brussels terror attacks and distanced them from Islamism:
“Without a doubt, what happened in Brussels on March 22nd is unacceptable, nor is it accepted within our logic or religion to commit such nefarious attacks.”
“Muslims all around the world have condemned this terrible event that took the lives of innocent victims, including Muslims as well,” the statement said. At this time it is not yet known whether any Muslims were injured or killed in the attacks other than the two suicide bombers.
The statement went on to denounce the protest against the Islamic Cultural Centre, calling it the work of “extremists” and requesting the public also decry not just the protest but every “reaction or prejudice against a religion”:
“We also condemn the reactions of extremists following what happened, including what took place yesterday afternoon by an extremist group that tried to attack our great mosque and cause damage to it.
“We ask for the public to condemn this event and every other extremist act, reaction or prejudice against a religion.”