Police question Birmingham mosque manager over Taliban Facebook post

Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif. Pic: Twitter

Police have questioned the manager of a Birmingham mosque after he posted a video on Facebook of the Taliban reciting Surah Al Fath in the presidential palace in Kabul.

In the post, Saddique Hussain of Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif wrote the message: “How beautiful and civilised and no ‘I’. May Allah SWT guide us on to His beautiful religion.”

But the Birmingham Mail reports that some worshippers at the mosque in Small Heath reported Hussain to the police over the post.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: “We were made aware on Friday, Aug 20, of Facebook posts relating to the situation in Afghanistan and the Taliban that were causing concern with some members of the public.

“Neighbourhood officers visited the person who’d posted the messages to understand his reasons behind the post and a video he shared. No criminal offences have been identified but the man was warned and we will be monitoring the situation.”

Adam Hussain, from Small Heath, who worships at the mosque, has formally complained to the mosque trustees.

In his complaint, seen by Birmingham Live, he wrote he was “very worried” to see a video shared by Saddique Hussain that was “promoting the Taliban” and showed men “holding big guns” after taking over Kabul.

“He (Saddique) wrote the video is civilised and beautiful. The Taliban are civilised? His sharing brings great harm to Pashtun people in Small Heath who have family hurt by this group, and other Birmingham citizens. His sharing is like an endorsement for their actions.”

Another mosque regular told Birmingham Live: “This is inexcusable, it comes across as supportive of the Taliban and that is absolutely disgusting. I pray at the mosque alongside Pashtuns from Afghanistan who escaped their regime 20 years ago and settled here, and for them to see this while they have huge anxiety for their friends and family is appalling.

Apology

Hussain has since deleted the post and issued a full apology for any offence caused.

He said: “Earlier this week I shared on my Facebook page a post by someone else which showed a short video of a group of men sitting and standing around a desk listening to the recitation of the Qur’an followed by sending blessings on the Beloved Prophet (Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him).

“The Arabic recitation was translated in English sub-titles. No other comments were made. The focus of the video was the recitation and I commented on that. This was ill-advised. I should have thought before I shared the post. Had I done so, I would have properly appreciated that:

“(1) The men were armed. (2) The group included individuals who were likely to be Taliban officials. (3) Any comment on the post might be taken as a comment on those pictured rather than a comment on the recitation.

“Yesterday after Friday prayers I was visited by the police who had an anonymous tip off that I had posted something concerning the Taliban. I told them why I had shared the post, explained my comments and told them categorically that I never have supported the Taliban and regret any offence caused by my actions.

Saddique Hussain

“Within minutes of the officers leaving I deleted the post. I reaffirm that I do not support and never have supported the Taliban. Like many people I pray for a positive resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan – for peace in the country and a civilised government under which the human rights of all citizens are respected. Once again, by sharing the post thus causing anyone any offence or hurt whatsoever I unreservedly and sincerely apologise.”

The Board of Trustees at the mosque said they were aware of the concerns raised and were investigating.

They said: “The board of trustees of the charity are aware of concerns raised about a post made by the mosque’s General Manager, Saddique Hussain, using his personal Facebook account. We are investigating the issue and will respond appropriately. As this is an employment issue, it would not be appropriate to comment further on this incident.

“I can assure you more generally that the charity trustees are keenly alive to community concerns about ongoing developments in Afghanistan. We join our neighbours in hoping for a positive resolution to that crisis – and extend our prayers for peace. We cannot know how far the new regime in Afghanistan will make good on its promises to respect women’s rights, forgive those who fought them, and ensure the country does not become a haven for terrorists.

“We can only pray that they do, both for the benefit of the citizens of Afghanistan and because of the wider impact that developments in the region have on all of us, wherever we are in the world.

“As a community based faith charity, our impact on international affairs is of course extremely limited. We can take some comfort in the fact that our mosque community continues to work to live out our belief in Islam as a religion of peace, respecting human rights, promoting forgiveness and working to support those less fortunate than ourselves.”

The Taliban is not a banned organisation in this country and supporting them does not constitute a criminal offence. However, authorities could deem that they fall under the umbrella of an “extremist” organisation therefore there could be non-criminal sanctions imposed on those who support them, such as social media bans or the withdrawal of banking facilities.

Facebook, for example, considers the Taliban a “dangerous organisation” and has banned or censured many prominent Muslim activists and pages for merely mentioning them.

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