Spiritual leaders at a mosque in Cricklewood have spoken of their fight against Islamic radicalisation as they prepare to open up their religion to the wider community with a radio station.
Mohammed Sadeeq, chairman of Mosque and Islamic Centre of Brent in Howard Road, spoke of the vital importance of showing Muslim leaders are working to tackle extremist views head on.
“The people that commit terrible acts like the Paris attacks and ISIS are not Muslim. Young men are being radicalised on the internet and on Facebook and they have no knowledge of our religion. We had a young man who did not understand Islam and we brought him back to the right path. When some youngsters come to me and talk this way, I immediately call our scholars and senior people in our community to tell them ‘what you are trying to do, what you are thinking is wrong’.”
In a bid to nip extremist views in the bud, Mr Sadeeq says the mosque, which welcomes more than 2,500 worshippers to Friday prayers, holds weekly seminars in English in an effort to “teach teenagers Islam is a religion of peace and love – not fanaticism and terrorism.”
The seminars, as well as prayers, sermons and discussion sessions will be available to hear on a dedicated mosque radio station, which is set to be launched this month and will be open to people of all faiths within a five-mile radius.
Mr Sadeeq said: “The radio station is for everyone and we will have scholars, councillors and people from the community as well as prayers so people can listen from home.”
The businessman, who has opened up the mosque to the community with regular soup kitchens for the homeless, karate lessons for children and surgeries for doctors and MPs, says the radio station is the next step on the journey to ease tensions and improve tolerance amongst Brent’s diverse community.
Amir Khan, Imam at the mosque, said: “As far as the community is concerned at this mosque the door is open to everybody of every religion.
“In the second world war the mosque in Paris took in Jews and protected them from the Nazis, we are here to saves the lives of the people. These terrorists- I don’t know where they come from.
“We don’t believe this is a holy war, we are the religion of peace.”
Mr Sadeeq, who is in regular contact with the Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher, Brent Police borough commander, said the mosque’s endeavours to “join hands” with neighbours are two-fold: not only do they want to improve understanding of Islam but also to combat a recent spike in Islamophobic attacks since the Paris attacks last year.
He said: “Now young girls and women are being shouted at for wearing the hijab in public.
“When the Paris attacks happened we told the young people Muslims cannot do that- we are actually against that and we need to deliver a message of loving your neighbour.”
Whilst attitudes towards the Muslim community changed in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks on New York, Mr Sadeeq says tensions have worsened since the UK joined coalition bombing raids against Islamic State in Syria.
“Things started changing for us after the 9-11 attacks, Syria has brought a new challenge for us.”
Source: Kilburn Times