Jeremy Corbyn TUC conference September 2015 gesture
Jeremy Corbyn: Optmistic message as he arrives to address membersPeter Nicholls/Reuters

I first met Jeremy Corbyn, now leader of the Labour Party, in 2004 at a meeting discussing how best to overcome problems faced by Finsbury Park Mosque, then under the grip of extremists led by Abu Hamza.

The mosque at the time was isolated and mostly out of bounds for members of the community in Islington. Corbyn was keen to listen to our views on how we were planning to deal with the matter. I can now say without any hesitation that without his support we would have really struggled to reinstate the mosque as a hub of community in Islington.

Corbyn has stood by us ever since, even when HSBC shut down our bank account without offering any reason or notice – an action that significantly affected our name and standing in the community.

Corbyn is one of the very few politicians who recognises that the government must and needs to engage positively with British Muslims. He understands the misgivings felt by the Muslim community about the Prevent strategy and other policies that make Muslims feel like second class citizens in their own country.

Iraq war

He has been consistent in opposing the controversial counter-terrorism laws that hugely impact communities, and specifically Muslims, introduced since the Iraq war of 2003.

Corbyn is a humble and wise man, and a people's politician who understands and responds to people's needs and sensitivities. Throughout his political career, he called for social justice for all and has stood firm against all forms of racism, whether it be Islamophobia or anti-Semitism.

A police officer stands guard outside Finsbury Park mosque following a raid in north London, January 20, 2003
A police officer stands guard outside Finsbury Park mosque following a raid in north London, 20 Januar 2003

Mosque wars: How radical jihadis were driven out out of Britain's 'terrorist' mosque

I am aware that Jewish leaders in the UK have sought clarification for some comments that Corbyn may have made in the past, and leaders of the Muslim community too have also sought to meet with him and discuss issues of concern.

Welcoming Corbyn's election as party leader, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) called on Corbyn and other politicians to engage Britain's diverse communities in direct and meaningful ways.

Regardless of whether Corbyn becomes prime minister or not - which I hope he would - there is no doubt the movement he has created has shaken the political landscape of Britain.

Even his ardent critics will admit that Corbyn has inspired many and reinvigorated confidence in politics – and this is particularly evident amongst the youth.

The fact that over 60,000 people joined the Labour Party since he became leader is noteworthy. Within the Muslim community, more Muslims, especially the young, are also showing more interest in politics.

I'm not a great fan of politics in general but I have a lot of time and respect for men of honesty, principle and courage. Corbyn has got to be the most popular leader within the Labour Party since the late legendary Tony Ben.

The fact is the majority of the British public have little respect for their politicians. Perhaps Corbyn, if he has given the opportunity and the time will go some way to changing that.


Mohammed Kozbar is the chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque