Lewisham Islamic Centre statement on Mohammed Emwazi aka “Jihadi John”

Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John

Lewisham Islamic Centre have issued a statement with regards to the ongoing media hysteria and frenzy over Mohammed Emwazi aka “Jihadi John”, the alleged ISIS executioner.

“On February 26th 2015, the Washington Post broke news on the identity of the man who has come to be known as Jihadi John, Mohammed Emwazi.

The article made mention that Mr Emwazi allegedly attended a Mosque in Greenwich. Some ‘news’ outlets, who appear to have a particular agenda against Lewisham Islamic Centre, have ignorantly sought to bring our Centre’s name into disrepute. In case they are not aware, Lewisham, where our Centre is situated, is a different Borough altogether from Greenwich. Mr Emwazi is not known to the Centre at all.

We also believe it is incumbent on us to address the general issues surrounding this story as the blame for the causes of radicalisation is almost exclusively levelled at Mosques and Imams.

Turning now to the issues at hand, we would like to make clear from the outset that the Centre’s position on IS and its barbarity, is manifestly evident from our previous statements and we will therefore not repeat ourselves in this regard.

An increasing number of stories are emerging that shed light upon how the security services are harassing young British Muslims and bullying them into becoming informants. If substantiated, the case could convincingly be made that such actions would not be exposing terrorists, but rather alienating people and in some cases, setting them on a course towards monstrous acts. Clearly, the current counter terrorism strategy is flawed and only seems to be exacerbating problems, hindering progress and whipping up mistrust and suspicion on all sides. The reports of complicity in torture, intimidating tactics and out-and-out harassment don’t serve to calm tensions and quell the rise of radicalisation, but, paradoxically lead to its proliferation. And for the avoidance of doubt, it is not being suggested that the above tactics are the single cause of radicalisation, this would be disingenuous; evidently however, it is clearly a significant factor which needs to be acknowledged.

Time and time again, the blame is being placed squarely at the doorstep of mosques: as seen with the recent letter of advice to all mosques from Eric Pickles, and on respected Imams and Scholars who are thoughtlessly branded “hate preachers” and yet little, if any, empirical evidence has been produced to substantiate that these so called preachers or mosques are the sole cause for radicalising known perpetrators of politically motivated crimes.

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We would also like to commend the respectable human rights organisation, CAGE’s Senior Researcher, Asim Qureshi and Cerie Bullivant’s courageous actions in bringing the above issue to the national debate because for far too long, fingers have exclusively been pointed at the Muslim minority community. On the eve of the 800th anniversary of the great British heritage of the Magna Carta, CAGE’s challenge to the intelligence services reminds us of the British Value of due process, the rule of law and above all, the fact that accountability is as important today as it was all those years ago when the law was passed to account King John.

Lastly, we unequivocally state that we do not condone or sympathise with the actions such as the barbaric beheadings we have seen in recent times. It should not be forgotten, that such actions have claimed the lives of Muslims such as Mr Kasig and great friends of the Muslim community, such as Alan Henning, whose release this very Centre’s Imam made a plea for. Nothing can justify brutal unlawful murder irrespective of time place or faith. Yet the heinous nature of crimes committed should not dissuade us from looking at the causes of radicalisation in a far more nuanced and balanced way overall, even if the blame is partially laid on the very security forces that are tasked with protecting us.”

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