Thursday, August 16, 2018
Imam at Didsbury mosque where Manchester bomber and his family worshipped was recorded 'calling for armed jihad' in sermon six months before deadly attack
- Mustafa Graf described jihad as a 'source of pride' while praising the 'mujahadin'
- He was giving a sermon at the Didsbury mosque when he addressed attendees
- Manchester arena bomber Salman Abedi attended the mosque with his family
- Later he went on to detonate a bomb in Manchester Arena killing 22 people
A recording of Mustafa Graf speaking at Didsbury Mosque in Manchester has been obtained by the BBC which has sparked major concern.
The sermon was delivered on December 16, 2016, six months before Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb killing 22 at an Ariana Grande concert in the city.
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It is unclear whether Abedi – or any family members - attended the mosque on the day of the audio recording, but BBC News understands he bought a ticket for the Ariana Grande concert 10 days later.
Delivering the sermon with a focus on the suffering in Syria, the Imam calls jihad - which often means waging holy war - a 'source of pride and dignity'.
The sermon delivered at the time of a bombing of Aleppo, includes prayers for 'Mujahideen' – a term used for a group fighting armed jihad abroad.
'We ask Allah to grant them Mujahideen - our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq - to grant them victory', he says.
'Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation'.
In another passage he says 'now it is time to act and do something'.
'Brothers and sisters, it is time to act, not only to talk... Lots of borthers stay behind unfortunately, they love Islam and Muslims but they do nothing about the support of their brothers and sisters,' he said.
Graf criticised Europe, America and the 'so-called civilised world' for watching on as the war ravaged Syria.
'They know that Iran, Russia and the militias are killing humans in Syria and they do nothing. Well in fact they helped Iranian, Russian and others to kill Muslims over there,' he said.
Abedi and his family regularly attended the mosque and his father sometimes led the call to prayer.
In the days after the attack Graf came out an assured the public the mosque did not back the views of Abedi.
He posted on Facebook: 'As a community we have lost many hundreds of people who bravely fought and defeated Isis in Sirte, Libya, only a few months ago, and so we are affected by grief again.'
However, two Muslim scholars said they both believe the language of the sermon represents a call for armed jihad.
'He's giving them the narrative of them against us', Islamic scholar Shaykh Rehan told BBC News.
'The jihad he's referring to here is actually being on the battlefield, there's no if's and no buts in this'.
'He is psychologically and practically brainwashing young people into either travelling or to do something to take action.'
Usama Hasan, Head of Islamic Studies at Quilliam, agreed and told BBC News that 'from the context and the way these texts [the religious passages quoted within the sermon] are used they are clearly referring to military jihad, to armed jihad'.
'I have known the Islamic discourse for pretty much 40 years, from being a child in this country and worldwide, and the Mujahideen are the group fighting armed jihad'.
Mr Hasan became emotional after hearing the sermon recording, appearing to despair that it was being preached in Britain.
'Oh dear, dear oh dear,' he said. 'He's reiterated the call not only to stop living a normal life but to do something drastic, to be with the small group of "true Muslims".'
'Sadly I wouldn't be surprised if Salman Abedi's horrific suicide bombing was partly inspired by this sermon.'
'If he was in this congregation, I fear that this sermon may well have contributed to his resolve to "punish" civilians in Britain for somehow being complicit in the murder of Muslims in Syria.'
As part of their investigation the BBC uncovered links between Abedi and Graf.
Footage was obtained of Graff in Libya on the front line of the 2011 revolution talking about waiting for orders to attack in a battlefield interview.
He also attended a demonstration in Manchester against a secular Libyan General who was fighting against Islamist militia in 2015.
The event was organised by the so-called 17th of February Forum which is led by Graf.
Months later the same group held another protest in London, in which Abedi was filmed holding up a banner.
Manchester bombing victim Martin Hibbert also listened to the sermon and said he was 'speechless' at Graf's words.
His daughter Eve was severely brain damaged, unable to speak, eat, or move the left side of her body.
'I'd probably take him round to see Eve. I don't think I'd need to say anything.'
At least five men who attended the mosque either went to fight in Syria or were jailed for supporting ISIS, according to the BBC.
Mustafa Graf denies he ever called for armed jihad or preached Islamic extremism.
In a statement, the trustees of Didsbury Mosque said Mustafa Graf's sermon was highlighting the plight of Syrians and his use of the words 'jihad' and 'mujahideen' had been misinterpreted.
'We do not tolerate or instigate any form of preaching that breaches both Islamic principles and the laws of England and Wales,' it said.
It is believed at least five men who have attended Didsbury Mosque have either travelled to Syria or have been jailed for terrorism offences.
The trustees of Didsbury Mosque say none of these men visited the mosque.
Dental student, 23, who claimed he was only sending money to his militant brother in Syria 'for a nose job' is convicted of terror offences
- Abdurahman Kaabar, 23, agreed to send money to his brother fighting in Syria
- Mohammed Kaabar travelled to Syria via Turkey to join Jabhat al Fateh al Sham
- Helped by friend Badroddin Kazkaz, Abdurahman aided his brother financially
- Kazkaz pleaded guilty to funding terrorism, Kaabar said it was for medical costs
- Both men charged with funding terror and are to be sentenced on September 25
A dental student who claimed he was only sending money to his militant brother in Syria to pay for a nose job has been convicted of terror offences.
Abdurahman Kaabar, 23, who is studying at Plymouth University, agreed to send £500 in late 2016 to his brother with the help of a friend, Badroddin Kazkaz.
His younger brother Mohammed Kaabar had travelled to Syria via Turkey earlier that year to join the terror group Jabhat al Fateh al Sham - previously known as al-Nusra - who were fighting against government forces.
Kaabar already admitted possessing and disseminating extremist material that could be used by someone planning a terror attack.
The material included advice on bomb making, kidnapping and use of poisons, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
Sheffield Crown Court was told that the offending material showed Kaabar actively supported using violence to achieve political and religious goals.
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Monday, August 13, 2018
- A senior bishop has called for a near-total ban on the wearing of burkas in public
- Michael Nazir-Ali, said the should be outlawed in a wide range of situations
- He said they should be banned where there were security and safety concerns
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said burkas and niqabs should be outlawed in a wide range of situations where people interact, including in hospitals, GP surgeries, universities and schools.
The cleric said a ban should also extend to areas where there were legitimate security and safety concerns, such as at airports or while driving a car. However, he said it was acceptable for women to wear face veils at home, while in the street and at prayer.
The controversial call from the Pakistani-born bishop, who led the Diocese of Rochester between 1994 and 2009, drew support last night from Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey said ‘oppressive’ veils should not become ‘normalised’.
Their comments represent the most powerful intervention to date by senior clerics on the issue. They are likely to add to the fierce debate sparked last week when former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson wrote a newspaper article on why he opposed a ban on veils in public but compared women in burkas to ‘letter boxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.
His comments have prompted an investigation by the Conservative Party.
Bishop Nazir-Ali told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burka and making an effective getaway.
‘For reasons of national security, there will be places like Parliament or Whitehall or town halls and council chambers where the burka should not be allowed.’
He said institutions including universities and schools were justified in wanting to know the identities of visitors or those who worked or studied there.
Staff at airports and courts also needed to see people’s faces.
Perhaps more controversially, he added: ‘Many professions require personal interaction with the client. In business, both the trader and the customer should be able to see one another’s face and to interpret expressions if the transaction is to be mutually beneficial. This is even more true of doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics.’
Warning of the threat posed by the wearing of veils, he said: ‘It is true that some women choose to wear the burka or niqab because they feel it makes them more observant Muslims…
‘It is also true, however, that the burka or niqab is being weaponised by Islamists to impose what they consider to be “Islamic” character on communities, neighbourhoods and even nations.
‘In Britain, this has serious implications for the freedom of women, but it also has implications for integration and social cohesion. Where there is widespread use of the face veil, there will be greater isolation from one another and a sense of segregation will grow.’
Lord Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, said he ‘strongly supported’ the position taken by Bishop Nazir-Ali.
He said: ‘We need to be able to identify people in government buildings, transport centres and tourist attractions, to take three examples. Security concerns trump cultural rights.’
But Sir Iqbal Sacranie, a former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he was ‘sad’ that such senior Church figures had failed to defend the basic rights of people to wear whatever they chose.
Lambeth Palace declined to comment last night.
Former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali: Banning the Burqa
Boris Johnson likes being provocative. My own experience with him on the radio has been that he makes controversial comments to elicit controversial responses! This makes for good radio but it can offend this or that person or section of the population.We shouldn’t be too alarmed by this because freedom of expression necessarily involves the possibility of giving offence, as long as there is no threat to the safety of an individual or community or of discrimination against them.
The furore, however, about his language regarding the appearance of those wearing the burqa or niqab, has meant that many have missed his extremely relaxed attitude to the actual wearing of these garments in public situations.The only restrictions he seems to countenance have to do with private preferences or rules in schools or offices.
Like him,I am not in favour of an absolute ban on the burqa but unlike him, I am in favour of a qualified ban on wearing the burqa or niqab in a wide range of situations.I am not for a total ban because that would violate the freedom of people to dress as they choose when they are at home, with friends or at their place of worship.There are many reasons, however, for restricting the wearing of these garments in a number of important areas of our common life.
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I come myself from both a Muslim and Christian family background and have lived and worked in Muslim majority communities.I have had beloved aunts who, at first, wore the burqa and then abandoned it because it was incompatible with their work as schoolteachers.I have seen also how increasingly ‘ modest’ dress, whether the burqa, on the frontier between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the niqab in Egypt or the chador in Iran, is being imposed on women in the name of religion, custom or culture.We cannot assume that such compulsion is not taking place in this country!
We have all seen how even male terrorists have escaped arrest by donning a burqa and making an effective getaway.For reasons of national security, there will be places like Parliament or Whitehall or town halls and council chambers where the burqa should not be allowed.Government and local authority buildings, as well as institutions like universities and schools, will want to know the identities of those who come to visit, work or study, not only at the point of entry but throughout the day.There needs to be legislative and regulatory backing for such bodies to be able to ban the burqa and the niqab on their premises.
Immigration and border control is another area where a ban is required.This is, of course, to determine the identity of those entering or leaving the country but it is also necessary to maintain adequate security in and around our ports and airports.Those responsible for our security need to able to tell, by people’s behaviour in public places, including facial expressions, whether they are a danger to others.The courts have ruled already that a face veil must be removed at the time of testifying but this is not enough.Judge, jurors and counsel will also want to observe the facial expressions, of those involved in a trial, at other stages, when different people are testifying or when counsel for the defence or prosecution are arguing their case.
Many professions require personal interaction with the client.In business, both the trader and the customer should be able to see one another’s face and to interpret expressions, if the transaction is to be mutually beneficial.This is even more true of doctors, dentists, nurses and paramedics.They need to know, from facial expression, how a patient is feeling, if they are in pain and whether pain has been relieved through treatment.Those engaged in therapeutic counselling and in social work, similarly, have to be able to tell, by observing the face, the extent of a person’s distress or well being.Both Boris Johnson and Jack Straw have declared that they would refuse to see someone from their constituency if they were wearing a face veil because that would make a real conversation very difficult. Such a difficulty extends to those working in job and advice centres and in any number of community and family projects.
I have seen women driving in some countries with a niqab or other voluminous covering.How they do so safely is a mystery to me! Public safety on roads means that those wearing burqa, niqab or other full head covering, which obscures all round vision, should not be allowed to operate vehicles where they pose a danger to the public.This must also be true of operating certain kinds of machinery at the work place or of working in difficult terrain or challenging weather conditions.Again, the Police, The DVSA and employers will need legislative sanction if they are to enforce such bans.
It is true that some women choose to wear the burqa or niqab because they feel it makes them more observant Muslims although there doesn’t seem to be anything in the Qur’an or in Islamic law that requires this.It is also true, however, that the burqa or niqab is being weaponised by Islamists to impose what they consider to be ‘ Islamic’ character on communities, neighbourhoods and even nations.Culture and custom can also be appealed to in persuading women to take the face veil.In Britain, this has serious implications for the freedom of women but it also has implications for integration and social cohesion.Where there is widespread use of the face veil, there will be greater isolation from one another and a sense of segregation will grow.
While Islamists have succeeded in introducing or re-introducing the veil in a number of countries, other countries, like Egypt, are resisting this trend.The highest Islamic authorities there have banned it in educational institutions and Parliament is considering legislation to ban it altogether.What is happening there has certainly influenced the European debate and we also need to learn from Egypt and other countries about the social and health consequences of observing strict purdah or the seclusion of women, including the wearing of face veils.
Boris Johnson claims that banning the burqa would result in a general crackdown on wearing any religious symbols in public.The Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, has said, similarly, that banning the burqa is like banning Christians from wearing the crucifix.Neither of these claims bear examination.A crucifix, or similar religious symbol, does not conceal anyone’s identity or expression nor can it be used to conceal a weapon which could be a danger to the public.When are we going to stop always seeking equivalences between Christianity and other religious beliefs?Christianity has given us our civilisation, our values and the dignity and freedom of the person.Let us celebrate that instead of always dragging it down to the lowest common denominator!
We need then both to uphold personal freedom and regulation for the sake of the public good.For weighty reasons of security, safety on our roads, control of our borders and professional conduct, the wearing of full face veils can be and should be restricted in our society.