City leaders condemn radicalisation

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Mosque leaders have condemned anyone trying to radicalise young people and encourage them to travel to Syria, Iraq or other countries where violence is used in the name of Islam.

Community leaders in Portsmouth, Hampshire, have said they will take a united stand against anyone trying to radicalise young people from the city.

Portsmouth City Council and the chief of police have issued a joint statement with the leaders of the city’s main mosques condemning those who seek to lure young people overseas to fight.

It come shortly after a fourth man from Portsmouth, Hampshire – 19-year-old Muhammad Mehdi Hassan – died this month fighting in Kobani, Syria.

Three others from Portsmouth – Iftekar Jaman, 23, Mamunur Roshid, 24, and Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, 25 – have also been killed after travelling there in October last year.

The statement says the community is united in its condemnation of hatred, violence and racism and of the group known as the Islamic State (IS).

It goes on: “Support for the group which calls itself Islamic State or Caliphate is illegal, and utterly opposed to everything that those who follow the Islamic faith believe in.

“We are working together to support our young people, to prevent them from the damaging effects of radicalisation, and to prevent them from travelling to Syria, Iraq or any other place in the world where violence is used in the name of Islam.

“We condemn the actions of any group which seeks to influence impressionable young Muslims to leave the safety of their communities to commit acts of terrible violence overseas.”

The statement, which has been signed by four mosque leaders, Portsmouth City Council’s chief executive David Williams, and leader Donna Jones, and Hampshire Constabulary’s Superintendent Will Schofield, and Chief Inspector Alison Heydari, claims those going abroad to fight are not joining a “humanitarian cause” but a “violent and terrible regime”.

It continues: “Such acts of violence are barbaric and inhumane.

“There is absolutely no basis in Islam for these acts. It stands against every teaching the Koran gives us.

“We share the sentiments of the Muslim Council of Britain, which stated: ‘Isis does not speak for Islam, and has been repudiated by all Muslims.’

“Their message only appeals to those who are easily duped by their twisted message purporting to be Islam.”

Mr Schofield said the force had specialist officers working closely with the community in Portsmouth to implement the national Prevent programme.

He said: “This involves supporting those who may be vulnerable to radicalisation and helping to prevent people from travelling overseas to become involved in conflict and terrorist activity.

“The Prevent team and Portsmouth District Safer Neighbourhoods team are in regular contact with Muslim community leaders in Portsmouth from each of the mosques.

“Imams have invited officers to give speeches at Friday prayers and these have all been well received.

“The messages have asked local people to discourage any further travel and to advise their community members that if they wish to help the suffering Syrians, then performing charity work is the best way to do this.”

Miss Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: “We are a tolerant and supportive city with residents who will strongly object to any extremist views, whether it’s far right EDL or radicalised Muslims.

“However, we have been working for a number of years to prevent vulnerable young people from being misinformed.

“Extremist activity has severe and very real consequences.

“There is such a high price to pay for those involved, this is not a glamorous life, people are killed and families have been left devastated.”

Published: Wednesday 29th October 2014 by The News Editor

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