Friday, August 19, 2005

Britain - Fighting For The Mosque

The Times (UK) recently carried a story about a battle between Muslim parents and Muslim extremist trying to recruit young Muslims at a Mosque.

ISLAMIC radicals from a supposedly disbanded organisation clashed violently with mosque elders while trying to recruit teenage worshippers to extremist training camps.

Fights broke out as angry parents prevented agitators from entering the Islamic Centre in Redhill, Surrey, during an hour-long confrontation. They say extremists are now operating covertly by following people to their homes.


Qamar Bhatti, a spokesman for the mosque and member of the Muslim Council of Reigate and Banstead, said: “We were aware that this is how extremist groups were recruiting people to go to Afghanistan.

But now Bhatti has been fired.

A row has broken out over leadership at Redhill Islamic Centre, weeks after it held a unity gathering to demonstrate solidarity following the London bombings.

Some members of the mosque, in Earlswood Road, claim they, and their community, haven't been consulted about the newly formed Muslim Council of Reigate and Banstead. This was set up by Qamar Bhatti to work with young Muslims and local agencies.

They believe Mr Bhatti has misled agencies and abused his position, which, they say, was originally to help oversee the mosque's forthcoming annual elections, following trouble in previous years.

Mohammad Khalid, leader at the centre, says Mr Bhatti will be dismissed "immediately".

In a letter seen by the Life, Mr Khalid questions the validity of the Muslim Council of Reigate and Banstead and also critisises statements given by Mr Bhatti.

You can see the letter here, which says in part:

- What evidence do you have to prove that hard line extremists tried to influence the Muslim youth or the mosque in Redhill?

- The mosque is a place of peace and learning. It is not a place to pull political stunts.

So, was there a clash between so called moderate Muslims and extremists as Mr. Bhatti claims? Or, was he trying to make it look like Muslims were standing up to the terrorists?

Or, did the terrorists get the upper hand and Mr. Bhatti got the boot?

Either way, The Times should investigate further.

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