Rochdale Muslims fear fervour of youth spilling into hate and violence

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.

Ahmadi Glasgow shopkeeper murderer calls on supporters to behead Islam ‘insulters’ via YouTube

A man who said he murdered a Glasgow shopkeeper because of his version of Islamic beliefs has released messages from prison calling on his supporters to kill other “insulters”, say reports on Friday (23 September).

Tanveer Ahmed, 32, stabbed to death Asad Shah because he felt the shopkeeper, who followed the Ahmadiyya brand of Islam, was guilty of “disrespecting the prophet Mohamed”. The Ahmadiyya are accused of not believing Mohammed to be the final Prophet, which many Muslims regard as blasphemous.

Despite his 27-year prison sentence, it has emerged that Ahmed has released a speech on YouTube in Urdu, calling Ahmadi Muslims “frauds” for their beliefs.

He said that he sent Shah “to hell with the help of Allah, the prophet, angels and saints.

“Whoever and wherever is listening my voice must make a resolve to protect the finality of prophethood,” he says.

“We will save the Lord’s followers from going down to the hell – will protect their faith,” the Independent reported.

Margaret Ferrier, the Scottish National Party MP for Rutherglenand Hamilton West,has written to the Scottish Prison Service to demand convicts are not able to broadcast “extremist rhetoric”.

She told the Independent: “It is worrying that the persecution of the Ahmadi Muslim community face in Pakistan appears to now be manifesting itself in the UK.

“The brutal murder of Asad Shah is the only reminder needed that this issue needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness.”

Ahmed will serve a minimum of 27 years in prison for the murder. Sentencing Ahmed at the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lady Rae said he was responsible for the “barbaric killing of a peace-loving man” and “an appalling display of merciless violence”.

 

Sunni Shia Squabbles amongst British Muslims

By the bloody standards of Middle Eastern sectarianism, it is a slight affair. On the fourth day of Ramadan, dawn worshippers in Bradford found the wall of their husseiniya, or Shia mosque, daubed with the word “KAFIR” (infidel). But flare-ups, once rare, between Britain’s 400,000-odd Shias and 2.3m Sunnis are on the rise.

Safdar Shah, one of the husseiniya’s founders, says that 30 years ago, when most of the city’s Sunnis and Shias arrived from the Pakistani side of Kashmir, they often prayed together. But over the past year leaflets denouncing Shias have circulated on city buses, and Sunnis have launched a boycott of two Shia-owned takeaways in Little Horton, a neighbourhood where over half the population is Asian. A flurry of tweets enjoin Sunnis to “stay away from Shia”. Community elders fear the identity politics sweeping the Middle East are seeping into Britain’s school playgrounds, prisons and mosques.

Opinion is divided over the cause of the surge in identity politics. “When people are unhappy, have no jobs and are disaffected they need a pastime,” says Nussrat Mohammed, a Labour councillor. Unlike the gleaming glass towers of nearby Leeds, Bradford’s squat skyline of sandstone seems stuck in the time-warp of the Industrial Revolution (bar the minarets). Residents accuse

The crescent and the cross. Getty Images
The crescent and the cross. Getty Images

the council, the government and above all Britain’s sometimes histrionic media for portraying the city as a trough of extremism.

Others say preachers stoke the division. Most of the country’s 27 Muslim seminaries are Deobandi, a purist form of South Asian Islam. Once a minority among Pakistanis in Britain, with the young this puritanical tendency is gaining ground against the Barelvi tradition, whose colourful customs reflect the popular religious practices of Pakistan.

Sectarian battles in Pakistan and the Gulf ripple back to Bradford. Outside the town hall, Sunnis and Shias have staged protests against rival factions in Syria’s civil war. “The politics there are played out here,” says Amjad Pervez, a leading local businessman, who worries that Kashmiri politicians join the campaign trail in Bradford’s elections. “The monsters fed from abroad have grown too big to be handled by one organisation—even the British government,” he says.