Published On: Fri, Jan 23rd, 2015 on 2:57 pm

Yorkshire imam responds to Eric Pickles letter: ‘Radicalisation happens online’

Mosque Minaret

Stock image.

A Muslim leader from Leeds has responded to a letter sent to over 1,000 faith leaders urging them to do more to root out extremism.

The letter was issued by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, urging faith leaders to prevent young people becoming radicalised.

Imam Qari Asim

Imam Qari Asim MBE.

It also called on faith leaders to demonstrate what being a British Muslim means, by being “proud of your faith and proud of your country”.

Imam Qari Asim MBE of Leeds Makkah Masjid said the letter was “largely positive” but also said that radicalisation is being bred online, rather than within mosques themselves.

He said: “We don’t believe mosques are inciting hatred or ideologically preparing people to be extremists. Radicalisation and breeding of extremism doesn’t take place in mosques – it happens online.

“We are all in it together and therefore there needs to be a sustained, comprehensive and well-established engagement channel between the Government and imams across Britain.

“Both parties need to value each other’s contribution and work together to see how we can root out extremism together. For example, if the intelligence services are aware of any mosque or any particular Imam that is inciting hatred and that information is shared with us, we can help.”

Imam Asim also said certain sentences in the letter could have been “phrased better”.

He said: “There were parts I couldn’t agree more with such as the fact British values are Muslim values and the positive contribution Muslims make on society.

“But some of the terminology, especially in one or two sentences, could have been phrased better.

“Muslims feel very part of this society. We feel confident in our British national identity and also our religious identity as Muslims. We are proud of our faith and our country.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said Muslims should not have to go out of their way to prove loyalty to Britain and rejected suggestions that they were somehow “inherently apart from British society”.

What do you think of the views expressed in this story? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Hasan Faridi

- Hasan is the founder and editor-in chief of the Yorkshire Standard. A BA Hons graduate from the University of Huddersfield, he has over four years of experience in newspapers, magazines and radio.

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