COMMUNITY leaders today unite against anyone trying to radicalise young people in Portsmouth and lure them overseas to take part in terrorist activities.
Leaders of Portsmouth’s main mosques, city council leader Donna Jones and Superintendent Will Schofield, the city’s top police officer, have condemned terrorist organisation Isil and ‘hatred, violence and racism’ in a joint statement.
Together they brand Isil a ‘violent and terrible’ regime that commits ‘barbaric and inhumane’ acts of violence.
Syed Aminul Haque, a community worker who is the advisory council chairman for the Jami Mosque in Portsmouth, said: ‘We are trying to get across that the Muslim community is peaceful, and that this establishment has nothing to do with radicalisation.
‘Islam is a peaceful religion – it doesn’t encourage people to fight one another.’
Mr Haque said some of the people who had gone to Syria had not realised what they were letting themselves in for.
‘There’s a different way of doing things by helping, rather than buying arms and ammunition,’ he added.
Today’s statement comes after Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, 19, a former pupil at St John’s College in Southsea, became the fourth jihadi from Portsmouth to be killed fighting for Isil in Syria in the past year.
The statement reads: ‘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.’
Mr Hassan, of Southsea, was killed fighting in Kobani on the border of Syria and Turkey. He was one of six Portsmouth men who travelled to fight for the terrorist group using the nickname ‘Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys.
Manunur Roshid, 24, of Buckland, was killed on October 17. Meanwhile Muhammad Rahman, a 25-year-old former Primark worker, died in August.
Ifthekar Jaman, 23, died in December.
Mr Jaman’s brother Mustakim Jaman, 23, of Hudson Road, Southsea, was remanded in custody on Monday at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London charged with ‘having the intention of assisting others to commit acts of terrorism and of engaging in conduct in preparation for this cause.’
Tuhin Shanesha, 26, also of Hudson Road, has been charged with one count of preparing acts of terrorism.
Both men will appear at the Old Bailey on November 14.
The statement in full
We are united in our condemnation of hatred, violence and racism. We are united in our condemnation of the group known as the Islamic State.
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.
It is not a humanitarian cause they would be joining, it is a violent and terrible regime. Such acts of violence are barbaric and inhumane. There is absolutely no basis in Islam for these acts. It stands against every teaching the Qur’an gives us.
We share the sentiments of the Muslim Council of Britain, which stated: ‘Isil 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. They seek to glamorise their violence, and unfortunately, the media has a part to play in adding to that glamour.’
We appeal to the media and our local communities to not give rise to the idea that Muslims are or could be sympathetic towards Isil. This does nothing but spread further hate.
By standing strong together, we can protect our communities and keep our young people safe from harm.
Liakoth Ali, mufti – Muslim Academy
Abdul Jalil, chairman – Jami Mosque
Mohammed Ahmed, president – Central Mosque
Salim Rahman, director – Madani Academy
David Williams, chief executive – Portsmouth City Council
Donna Jones, leader – Portsmouth City Council
Superintendent Will Schofield
Chief Inspector Alison Heydari