Imams are not the solution to terrorism’

By Jessica Shepherd {Muslim spiritual leaders say Blair’s call for training in UK universities is misguided} University imams have reacted angrily to comments made by Tony Blair last week about their education. The prime minister said imams should be trained in UK universities. Too many, he told a conference of Islamic religious leaders, entered Britain with poor English and an insufficient grasp of the country’s traditions. University imams and prominent Muslims on campus say they believe the prime minister’s words were really about reducing extremism, and not about imams’ standards of English or their understanding of British culture. “We are aware we need UK-trained imams who can speak English and know what is happening on our streets,” says Ibrahim Mogra, an imam at De Montfort, Leicester and Loughborough universities and chairman of the Interfaith Relations Committee of the Muslim Council of Britain. But in any case Mogra and others question what they see as an underlying assumption by the government that the solution to extremism lies with imams from overseas, university training for imams, or even imams at all. Blair is misguided and misinformed, they say.