Ayatollah Moezi is the director of the Islamic Centre of England, the London outpost of Iran’s neoconservative regime — a role to which he was personally appointed by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His leadership — as political as it is religious — is anathema to most British-Iranians, the majority of whom came to the country to escape the Islamic Revolution.
Shia Muslims, who traditionally take their spiritual guidance from imams such as Ayatollah Khamenei, are outnumbered in Britain by Sunni Muslims, mostly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, who do not all recognise any special priestly authority.
The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini united Shias and Sunnis in overthrowing the Shah of Iran in the Islamic Revolution. It inspired a new wave of political Islam in both sects, and Sunnis and Shias alike responded with equal vigour to his fatwa on Salman Rushdie.
The crisis that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election in June has undermined both his political and religious leadership further. He is now openly questioned by politicians and clerics alike.
Iran’s increasingly hegemonic behaviour, and nuclear ambitions, has spooked both Arab states and populations across the Middle East. When Ayatollah Khamenei or his acolytes speak, it is no longer taken as the word of God but the word of the regime alone.
If a British Muslim, Shia or Sunni, has taken the decision to serve his country at war it will take more than Tehran’s mouthpiece to dissuade them.