Muslims of Ilford organized a march today in memory of dead British soldier Lee Rigby who was killed in Woolwich last week.
Around 50 people gathered to march from Barking Mosque through Ilford Lane to show support for Lee Rigby’s family and to condemn extremist acts of “terrorism”.
Event organizer and Chairman of Karwan-e-Fikr, Shakir Qureshi said: “We have gathered today to show unity and solidarity with Lee Rigby’s family. This is also a march against terrorism which is what happened in Woolwich, an act far away from Islam.”
The Chairman of Barking Mosque, Mohammed Sadique said: “We are showing support for Lee Rigby’s family and to condemn what Michael Adebolajo did in the name of Islam.” When Mr Sadique was asked about British foreign policy being one of motives for Mr Adebolajo’s act he said: “I don’t support British foreign policy in the Muslim world, I also want British troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq. But that doesn’t mean one should resort to violence to resolve it.”
Three local councilors also showed the support, Darren Rodwell, Afzal Akram and Manzoor Hussain.
Councilor for Alibon ward, Mr Rodwell said: “It is crucial that during this time of enduring hardship, the community must come together and condemn this heinous crime that represents no religion.”
Councilor for Waltham Forest ward, Mr Akram said: “Today is not about religion, its about unity between human beings against an act that was not from Islam.”
Councilor for Abbey ward, Mr Hussain said: “This act was un-Islamic, it clearly states in Qu’ran, if you kill one innocent human, its as if you have killed the whole of humanity.”
When asked about how Muslim youth should address their concerns about British foreign policy in the Muslim world, Mr Hussain said: “It is difficult for us to directly influence foreign policy decisions, except lobbying via our local MPs.”
“We need to educate the Muslim youth about the real face of Islam, via workshops in youth clubs, community centres, schools and colleges.”
Also present was the leader of Newham Ulema Forum and Ulema Council of UK, Imam Sohail Bawa. When asked about foreign policy and tackling “extremism” he said: “I support the foreign policy of the British government. I believe as citizens of this country we have to show our support for the decisions our parliamentarians make.”
“We have a contract with this country, therefore we should abide by its laws. The way to tackle extremism is to have dialogue with the government concerning its foreign policy.”
It was a surprise to see such few numbers of attendees and after talking to local Muslim residents it became clear why.
Local resident, Amjad Khan said: “Yes the Woolwich murder was wrong and un-Islamic, but I think having a march for Lee Rigby is going too far. He wasn’t only a drummer, he was a machinist, an active combatant who may have killed Muslims.”
Estate agent Muhammad Abdi said: “I don’t recall seeing such zeal from our Muslim councilors in protesting or demonstrating against the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and even their own countries of origin which is bombarded with American drones on a regular basis.”
Student Nadia Hussain said: “Not many Muslims in Ilford knew about this event, but I doubt many would have supported it. There’s condemning an act which is un-Islamic, but to hold a march in memory of a British soldier could also be seen as un-Islamic.”
“I think the numbers of attendees speaks for itself, if there was a great support for it, people would have joined whilst they were walking through Ilford lane.”