In response to recent media reports linking Al-Manaar to extremism, the Prevent Coordinator for the local borough, Pinakin Patel, wrote to the newspapers which were covering the story to explain the anti-radicalisation work that the mosque has undertaken. The full letter is below:
As the Prevent Coordinator for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea – and as someone who has worked to reduce the risk of terrorism in this area for over a decade – I struggle to recognise the depiction that has been made of Al-Manaar mosque in recent press coverage by the Telegraph and other newspapers. Indeed, although I cannot speak for all individuals working with the mosque, I have had the pleasure to work closely alongside Al-Manaar mosque for several years now. This work has led me to believe that Al-Manaar is committed to the values of equality and diversity.
Aside from ignoring its extensive record of interfaith work and the support it provided in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy, these articles omit the fact that Al-Manaar plays a key role in tackling all forms of extremism. It has, for example, hosted counter terrorism training delivered by the Metropolitan Police which was attended by the mosque’s leadership alongside a dozen other community organisations, thereby ensuring that awareness of terrorism is raised among the community as whole. Al-Manaar has co-organised and hosted several of my team’s Community Questions events; events which seek to offer opportunities to discuss contentious or sensitive topics in a public setting, thereby denying extremists the opportunity to monopolise such discussions or exploit legitimate grievances. In addition, as a founding member of our Prevent Advisory Group, Al-Manaar has worked with my team since 2011 to provide us with the kind of critical feedback that is necessary to successfully undertake counter radicalisation work. Staff from Al-Manaar even met with David Anderson QC – the then Independent Review of Terrorism Legislation – to share their views and advice regarding counter terrorism initiatives.
Far from viewing this as someone else’s problem, Al-Manaar has also been unrelenting in its efforts to increase the Muslim community’s resilience to radicalisation. Through its supplementary school, Al-Manaar promotes discussion, education, and critical thinking and I also know that it has worked in partnership with the Council to ensure the effectiveness of its safeguarding policies. In addition, Al-Manaar has worked with my team to deliver local parenting projects, thereby empowering parents to safeguard their children from various risks, including radicalisation.
Al-Manaar is a powerful example of an organisation which is tackling these concerns head on and is clearly part of the solution and not the problem.
Chief Officer, Communities & Prevent, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Chair of the London Prevent Network and Kensington and Chelsea Prevent Advisory Group”