Radical muslim sect ‘controls half of Britain’s mosques’

Nearly half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a radical Islamic sect whose leading preacher strongly opposes Western values, it was reported today.

The Deobandi movement runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report.

It goes on to allege that a series of sermons by one of its main preachers, Riyadh ul Haq, are anti-Western.

The paper claims that Mr ul Haq “heaps scorn” on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and that he says friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion”.

It says other sermons have warned believers to stay away from the “evil influence” of British non-Muslims and music was used by Jewish people to corrupt young Muslims.

It goes on to say that its investigation casts “serious doubts” on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading radical Islam in British mosques.

The alleged sermons were condemned today as “clearly reprehensible” by a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.

Inayat Bunglawala said: “These statements, if accurate, are clearly reprehensible and have no place in civilised discourse.

“These are unacceptable statements and they are very bigoted and small-minded.

“Islam teaches a responsibility to preach a message which helps strengthen our multi-faith society. It should not be a divisive or hateful message.”

But Mr Bunglawala added that it was “not helpful” to “attack” the Deobandi movement which he said was not a sect, but a school.

He said: “The entire group is not hardline anti-Western.”

He pointed out that mosques were independent and could not be controlled by a movement.

“There is no control of 600 mosques, they may well have trustees with ideological sympathies, but mosques are autonomous entities and cannot be controlled in the way alleged,” he said.

“Deobandi is not a sect, it is a school and is varied and large. Its members are on the whole extremely respectful.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Communities and Local Government told The Times: “We have a detailed strategy to ensure imams properly represent and connect with mainstream moderate opinion and promote shared values like tolerance and respect for the rule of law.

“We have never said the challenge from extremism is simply restricted to those coming from overseas.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday September 7, 2007.
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