Portsmouth Muslim leaders take action to stop youths being drawn into extremism

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MUSLIM leaders from the area say they are taking action to urge youths not to get drawn into extremism.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, the imam of the Wessex Jamaat community, says leaders of mosques in the Portsmouth area are emphasising the true meaning of Islam to youths to stop them getting attracted to places like Syria.

As reported, Portsmouth jihadists Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, 25, and Ifthekar Jaman, 23 were both killed in Syria whilst fighting for the Islamic State (IS), also known as Isis, which grew out of terrorist group al-Qaeda in Iraq.

More than 100 Muslim leaders from across the UK have signed a letter calling for the release of British aid worker Alan Henning – including two from this area.

Mr Henning is being held by IS militants in the Middle East who are threatening to kill him.

Among those signing the letter are representatives of all strands of Islam from Shia to Sunni to Salafi, Sufi, and Deobandi.

And it includes Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo from Portsmouth and Mohammedraza Kanji from Fareham.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas said: ‘We don’t support the youths getting attracted to this.

‘In all the mosques in Portsmouth and Fareham and everywhere we are emphasising that you have got to understand the true meaning of Islam.’

In the letter to The Independent, the leaders said such actions could not be justified anywhere in the Koran or Islamic tradition, and the ‘fanatics’ were not acting as Muslims but perpetrating the worst crimes against humanity.

The letter also pleads for them to understand he was travelling to Syria to provide help to innocent civilians.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo is the imam of the Wessex Jamaaat Community, based in the Al Mahdi Centre in Wickham. He lives in Portsmouth.

He said: ‘As one with a family I can appreciate and understand the anguish the family of Alan Henning are going through. I want to show my solidarity and support towards them.

‘I want to make it loud and clear that this is not the message of Islam. It’s appalling and a very terrible situation. This is totally shocking.

‘It’s disappointing this is happening in the name of Islam.’

As reported in The News, jihadists from Portsmouth travelled out to Syria to fight.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas added: ‘This is shocking and it’s something that is totally disappointing. We need to understand that this is not in the teaching of Islam.

‘The message of Islam is the message of peace.

‘We want to ensure that this is within the teachings of Islam.

‘It’s a minority of extremists.’

Mr Henning, 47, was a volunteer on an aid convoy in December last year when he was seized just after crossing into Syria.

Islamic militants have also released a propaganda video featuring a British hostage believed to be photojournalist John Cantlie.