Coventry's Muslim community 'shocked' after young Foleshill man convicted of terrorism offences
Coventry’s Muslim community has been left shocked by the news that a Foleshill man has been jailed for six years for terrorism offences.
Zakariya Ashiq, from Foleshill, was jailed after he was arrested at Heathrow in November having returned from a failed trip to become a martyr for Islamic State in Syria.
Dr Abdullah Shehu, chairman of Coventry Muslim Forum, told the Telegraph said it is difficult to spot the signs of radicalisation - but that recent incidents had made the community think about what more could be done.
Three other Coventry men were also reported as having travelled to fight for Islamic State in Syria just over a year ago.
He said: “One is rather shocked about what has happened in terms of the three boys who went to Syria and now this.
“It suddenly rings a bell in the community and it makes us think ‘what can be done as a society?’
“Parents try their best and communities do what they can do but their may be forces beyond our understanding in terms of what goes on in a young student’s mind.
“There is access to information from all over the world, it’s very difficult to curtail it. They can access it without the knowledge of their parents and they might not give any sense of that at all.
“We all have responsibility in terms of how to combat it and understand it.”
He added: “We need to find out how to engage the minds of the youth, regardless of religion, we need to engage them so we can curtail problems before they happen.”
But Dr Shehu said he did not believe the city had a problem with young men being radicalised, despite allegations from the father of one young man who travelled to Syria that he had been “brainwashed” at a mosque in Coventry.
He said: “As far as I’m aware the police are investigating. Without them coming out and saying there’s a strong lead we don’t have that evidence to comment on it.
“It is not something that the community has said is definitely happening, otherwise it would have been dealt with. Coventry hasn’t got anything to worry about from what we know.”
He added: “Coventry is a very peaceful city, I don’t think you will find a more peaceful city in terms of how people get on.”
Dr Shehu also condemned the actions of those who resort to terrorism.
He said: “Islam promotes peace and harmony among communities. You can’t be a proper Muslim with out promoting peace in the community in which you are living.”