Cop outs and Imams

STEFAN WERMUTH / REUTERS

Cop outs and Imams

This week Greater Manchester Police announced that it had completed its enquiries relating to a sermon given by Mustafa Graf at Didsbury Mosque in December 2016 and had concluded, after consulting with ‘experts’, they had that no criminal offences had been committed.

STEFAN WERMUTH / REUTERS

IMG: STEFAN WERMUTH / REUTERS

 

Four extracts from the sermon were broadcast by BBC News in August 2018:

“Brothers and sisters it is time to act, not only to talk...”

“We ask Allah to grant the Mujahideen, our brothers and sister right now, in Aleppo, Syria and Iraq, to grant them victory.”

“Lots of brothers stay behind, unfortunately. They love Islam and Muslims, but they do nothing about the support of their brothers and sisters.”

“The whole world including Europe and America, the so-called civilised world, they know that Iran, Russia and the militias are killing humans in Syria and they do nothing. Well, in fact they help the Russians and the Iranians, and others, militias, to kill Muslims over there.”

The reporter, and later the BBC News website, also quoted Graf as having said during the sermon  “You must do jihad in Allah’s path” and ”Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation” although strangely (I wish I could say surprisingly) their recording of this, the most inflammatory phrase, was not aired.

Following the broadcast, Didsbury Mosque put out a statement asserting that the purpose of the sermon was to encourage worshippers to donate to humanitarian causes and to pray to God to help victims of oppression. They explained that: “The term jihad was used in its wider meaning of strive or struggle and in this case aid to those being oppressed ... There was no call to any military action.”

The term ‘jihad’ used on its own does indeed have a general mean of to struggle or strive. However on twenty six of the forty one occasions in which it is used in the Quran, it appears within the phrase ‘jihad fi sabilillah’ / ‘to strive in God’s way’ and on each and every one of these occasions the phrase clearly refers to an encouragement to Muslims to wage war against unbelievers. Several times waging violent jihad in God’s way is contrasted, as it was in Graf’s sermon, with lingering behind when there is fighting to be done. For example 4.95:  

“Allah has favoured the mujahedeen [those who do jihad] with their properties and selves above those who stay at home with a higher degree; and Allah has promised good to both. And Allah has favoured mujahedeen above those who stay at home with a mighty reward.”

Amongst the regular Didsbury mosque attenders was Salman Abedi, who carried out the terrorist attack on an Ariane Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May 2017, killing 22 and injuring many others, mostly young girls.  It is said that Abedi bought his ticket to the show just ten days following Graf’s sermon.

Didsbury Mosque

Graf was no ordinary religious minister and Abedi no mere worshipper. Graf was the UK leader of the Libyan 17 February Forum, supporting Islamic militants in the Libyan civil war, and Abedi had also been an active member of this small grouping. Some time earlier Graf had been filmed in a military uniform and loading artillery during the Libyan civil war, a war zone from which, in 2014, the Royal Navy helpfully evacuated Abedi. This was a war to which Ramadan Abadi, Salman’s Libyan born father, and a caller to prayer at Didsbury mosque, had returned. On a Bengazi street there is a mural dedicated to the Manchester Fighters in the 17 February brigade. It is inconceivable that Graf and Abedi were not known to one another. 

Moreover, several non-Libyan jihadi terrorists have been linked with Didsbury mosque over the years, as well as half a dozen preachers of violence and intolerance, listed by Tommy Robinson in a filmed visit to the mosque broadcast weeks after the Manchester Arena attacks.

So who are the Islamic ‘experts’  that persuaded Greater Manchester Police that the militaristic imam, whilst speaking in a regional hub for hate-mongers and terrorists, who condemned ‘Europe and America, the so-called civilised world’ for killing Muslims, and urged his listeners to ‘act, not only to talk’, twice using a phrase from that is specifically linked to violence, was obviously only asking for charitable giving and prayers?

Are these ‘experts’ likely to have been impartial academics in Quranic studies?  Or is it more likely they hail from that part of ‘the Muslim community’ that is establishing itself as an alternative power structure to the rule of law in Britain, dedicated adherents to the ideology of Islam and well-versed in the dark arts of taqiyya?

An inquest into the Manchester Arena attack has been repeatedly been delayed and may not take place until 2020. When it does, it is unlikely to do more than castigate the security services for failing to solve a problem it is career suicide for them to recognise.

Meanwhile Graf remains in his position at Didsbury mosque, now reassured that the police are meekly following the advice of his co-religionists, to see no harm in his jihadist incitements.

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