Community leaders paint a bleak picture for young Muslims living in the borough of Rochdale on the outskirts of Greater Manchester. They have grave concerns that Muslim youth are increasingly turning to anti-western sentiment and extreme interpretations of Islam.
In recent months the peace in the narrow streets sitting in the shadow of the impressive Jalalia Jaame mosque has been shattered.
A respected holy man, Jalal Uddin, 71, was stalked and murdered because he was a practitioner of a form of Islamic faith healing called taweez which involved the use of charms to bring good luck, good health and deter evil spirits.
Friends Mohammed Hussain Syeedy, 21, who has been convicted of Uddin’s murder and Mohammed Abdul Kadir, 24, who is the subject of an international manhunt, had been Isis supporters and believed that those who practised taweez should be killed because they considered it a form of black magic, the trial at Manchester crown court heard. The murder of “quiet, dignified and well-respected” Uddin was fuelled by “hatred and intolerance,” the court was told.
It was not the only murder in Britain this year motivated by differing interpretations of Islam. In March, a sectarian dispute in Pakistan was played out on the streets of Glasgow when a taxi driver, Tanveer Ahmed, from Bradford, drove hundreds of miles to stab a fellow Muslim to death.
The simmering hatred towards Britain’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community spilled over into violence the day before Good Friday when Ahmed Shah was brutally murdered in his shop.
Ahmed, a Sunni Muslim, was offended by Shah’s religious proclamations on social media that he was the next prophet of Islam – something some consider highly blasphemous.
New figures given to the Guardian show that sectarian attacks have nearly doubled since last year, with a surge in incidents targeting Ahmadiyya Muslims since Shah’s murder.
The number of anti-Ahmadiyya attacks more than tripled over the last year, from nine to 29, according to the monitoring group Tell Mama. In total, there have been 40 recorded incidents of sectarian violence this year, the figures show, up from 24 last year.
Fiyaz Mughal, the founder and director of Tell Mama, said vulnerable young men were being radicalised online and “absolutely destroying and cannibalising” spiritual elements of Islam, such as taweez and sufism. “Spiritual dimensions of Islam are being eradicated by Salafist, Wahhabist stuff and young mindsets are seeing that as the devil within Islam,” Mughal said.