SHAFAQNA – Stricken with a shocking letter from a British Minister urging them to fight extremism inside mosques, hundreds of British Muslim imams and community leaders expressed anger for being unjustly singled out to be associated with radicals.
“When has a minister ever written to other religious groups like this?” Ibrahim Mogra, the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, told The Telegraph.
He added that the letter will offend some imams as “hypocritical”, with Muslims being “picked on” at a time of rising far-Right extremism.
The uproar started when Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, wrote to 1,100 imams and Islamic leaders urging them to publicly condemn extremists behind the Paris massacres.
In the letter Pickles and Lord Ahmad, the communities minister, said imams must declare “more clearly than ever before” that Muslims should be proud to be British.
Young Muslims must be told that there are “other ways to express disagreement” and that jihadism has “nothing to offer them”.
The ministers said they were “proud” of the reaction of the Muslim community so far, which has been “sickened” by the “heinous crimes” of Kouachi brothers in France. They went on to say: “There is more work to do.”
“We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them,” they wrote.
“We must show them that there are other ways to express disagreement: that their right to do so is dependent on the very freedoms that extremists seek to destroy.
“We must show them the multitude of statements of condemnation from British Muslims; show them these men of hate have no place in our mosques or any place of worship, and that they do not speak for Muslims in Britain or anywhere in the world.
“Let us assure you that the Government will do all we can to defeat the voices of division, but ultimately the challenges of integration and radicalization cannot be solved from Whitehall alone. Strong community-based leadership at a local level is needed.”
“You, as faith leaders, are in a unique position in our society. You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility: in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity.
“We believe together we have an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of British Islam today. There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country. We know that acts of extremism are not representative of Islam; but we need to show what is.”
Singling out Muslims
The MCB leader warned that that divisive letter has singled out Muslims to associate with radicals.
He added that imams had been working for years to “better educate” young people angered at Western foreign policy, warning that the demand could fuel anti-Muslim sentiments in British society.
He warned that young Muslims are becoming angry at imams who feel obliged to condemn terrorist attacks that they have no culpability for.
The main source of radicalization is the internet, not mosques, he said. “This is not a problem we can lay at the doorsteps of imams and mosques for them to solve.”
Pickles’ letter comes at a time when tension between communities in Britain is running high.
Last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will be seeking the introducing “more comprehensive” powers to monitor terror suspects in Britain.
Cameron said that in case he wins the next election, he will introduce a communication data bill dubbed the “snooper’s charter” that will give police a sweeping power to monitor online communications.
Calls by Cameron for an immediate revival of the snooper’s charter were rejected by the Labors and civil liberties groups.
The British PM said at the weekend that he disagreed with Pope Francis’ remarks that people who insult religion could “expect to get punched.”