Didsbury Mosque have responded to claims made by the BBC that an imam delivered a sermon encouraging “violent jihad” which could have influenced the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi.
The following statement was issued yesterday evening on Didsbury Mosque’s Facebook page:
“Didsbury Mosque is an inclusive and diverse centre, which is open to all people from different backgrounds. Our Friday sermons are public.
Today the BBC released what we believe to be a misleading report, out of context which appears to create an association between the criminal act of Salman Abedi and a dated sermon at the mosque.
Such sensationalist reporting is not helpful to the Muslim community or the wider community, and only further damages good community relations.
We are currently taking legal advice on the BBC report to identify what action if any can be taken to correct inaccuracies and any damage done to our reputation.
The Friday sermon in question took place shortly after chemical weapons were used by the Syrian regime against innocent men, women and children of Aleppo. There was a nationwide appeal by most UK charities to collect donations for humanitarian aid for the victims. The Friday prayer was aimed at encouraging the worshipers at the centre to donate generously to such causes and to pray to God to help those victims of oppression. There would have been many such passionate speeches in support of the Syrian people amongst the Muslim community at that time. The term Jihad was used in its wider meaning “to strive and struggle” and in this case aid to those being oppressed. There was no call for any military Jihad (Qital). Nor was there any comment which could in anyway be construed to suggest that Britain or British people should be targeted or attacked. The focus was on the behaviour of the Syrian regime and its victims.
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Didsbury mosque does not encourage anyone to go and fight in any military struggle. We refute strongly any suggestion that there is a link or association between our preaching and the criminal actions of Salman Abedi, or his radicalisation. Nor have we been made aware that his grievance was related to Syria.
However, as part of our regulatory management duties, we have launched an investigation into the sermon to identify any issues raised by the BBC report.”