24th Nov 2018 @20:33
Recent press reports have sought to malign the good name of our institution and the work that we do in the community by repeating old unfounded allegations.
Al-Manaar is an open community and religious space for all to use; for people of all faiths and none.
As is the case with many mosques in the UK, we are not in a position to vet individuals that may visit to use our facilities for religious worship. Indeed, we often have up to 3000 visitors per week, and our weekly sermons and lectures are publicly accessible. Our record on extremism and terrorism is clear; we strongly condemn and reject the actions of all those that seek to sow discord to our peaceful way of life, which goes against the very grain of our faith. If any criminality is flagged with us, we would, of course, report that to the relevant authorities in the proper manner.
The Henry Jackson Society says it links 19 individuals to have visited our Mosque who may have gone onto carrying out acts of violence or promoted abhorrent extremist views. We condemn these acts and views, and it would be patently false to suggest the Mosque is in any way responsible for them.
We actively work in partnership with many organisations, including those from the local and national statutory sector, engaging in interfaith and charitable works. Furthermore, we organise workshops and activities to engage with young people to ensure they are educated with the authentic teachings of Islamic faith, which prohibits any acts of extremism and terrorism.
Our Imam, Samer Darwish, is a respected Islamic scholar. The press articles which name him have misquoted his words from interviews unrelated to his role at Al-Manaar without providing the full context in which they were said. Often religious scholars are asked to provide an opinion based on Islamic jurisprudence, explaining different interpretations and views held by different sources, and Imam Samer did so based on questions put to him by members of the public – this is not an endorsement of those religious positions, or any positions which contravene with UK laws.
Our goals and values lie in strengthening and empowering our community. We proudly support The Hubb Community Kitchen, which is an independent and separate project that takes place in our centre. The Hubb Community Kitchen, behind the charity cookbook Together, was created as a result of a group of local women in our community who came together following the Grenfell Tower Fire to restore hope, normality and tranquillity in their lives through cooking. The ethos of the Kitchen is one of unity, love and togetherness. (Hubb means love in Arabic).
The reports today are not connected to the Hubb Community Kitchen, and should never be used to take away from the incredible achievements of these women who do so much good for the local community.
We call on the media to report stories with integrity and ethical journalism so as not to affect our work that serves a community grieving from the Grenfell fire tragedy. The community is at the forefront of much of what we do.
We welcome everyone to our centre, to visit and participate in the numerous projects that we proudly support. We thank all those that have supported our institution, including our local voluntary community and interfaith partners.
We will stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity so that the great work we do in the community remain unhindered and can benefit all. Our stance against extremism and terrorism remains the same, and we will continue to challenge in every way possible.
• The Al-Manaar’s position on extremism and terrorism issued in February 2018 can be found here: https://almanaar.org.uk/al-manaars-position-on-extremism-and-violence/