City’s Muslim leaders condemn Syria fighters

The Jami Mosque in Southsea at the end of Ramadan ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells  (102840-9852)
The Jami Mosque in Southsea at the end of Ramadan ''''Picture: Malcolm Wells (102840-9852)

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PORTSMOUTH’S Muslim leaders have condemned the actions of a group of young men who have gone to fight in Syria.

Five young men from the city’s Muslim community have travelled to the country, which has been in the grip of a brutal civil war following the outbreak of unrest in 2011.

As previously reported in The News, 23-year-old Southsea man Ifthekar Jeman travelled to Syria earlier this year.

It is understood he was followed by four other young men, all joining a hardline organisation called ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Sham).

Speaking yesterday, leaders from the city’s Jami Mosque said the men had made the journey without the knowledge of their parents, the mosque, and the Muslim community.

Jami Mosque committee members Abidur Rahman Chowdhury, Mosud Ahmed, Aziz ur Rahman, Abu-Suyeb Tanzam and chairman Abdul Jalil said the mosque has been working with the police after it emerged the group of men had made the journey.

Mr Jalil said: ‘The Portsmouth Muslim community didn’t know anything about this. What they were doing was behind the scenes – it’s nothing to do with them praying in the mosque.’

The committee said the young men got their information from the internet.

Mr Tanzam added: ‘Since 9/11 and 7/7 we are aware of so many things that we weren’t before. We are always monitoring our Imam as well.

‘If one or more people are doing activities like this we will always condemn it. If they are, they have no right to live in this country.’

Ifthekar has gone to Syria to fight with the Syrian rebel forces, made up of a number of different Islamic groups which seek to overthrow the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

He says he will not come back, and will never threaten Britain.

The Jami Mosque’s leaders have, however, warned others not to follow in his footsteps and said they are working with the police to stop more travelling illegally to Syria.

Mr Ahmed added: ‘Generally Portsmouth is very good – Portsmouth’s Muslim community is very peaceful usually. This is shocking for us.’