Newham ‘Olympic’ mosque: a debate is needed, even if it offends

02 November 2006


From Cllr Alan Craig

Sir, I hesitate to cross swords with an Islam expert like Dr SophiGilliat-Ra< href="/80256fa1003e05c1/httppublicpages/57a592308d26b6a5802571fe004d0072?opendocument(News, 6 October), but her contention that Tablighi Jamaat, the groubehind the Olympics mega-mosque at West Ham in Newham, is simply a " quietisticpietistic="" religious="" movement"="" is="" itself="" a="" superficial="" analysis="" of="" the="" groupunderlying="" motivation="" and="">

The leading authority on Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) is the Indian Muslim academiYoginder Sikand. Sikand highlights supporters who claim that "TJ is silentlpreparing Muslims all over the world for a goal that. . . It is sharing witIslamist groups to engage in the lesser jihad or physical warfare againsthe enemies of Islam," and "TJ has been merely laying the groundwork for a mucgreater mission which includes physical jihad if necessary." Sikand himselconcludes that "TJ may well be impelled by a long-term political goal."

There is no doubt that TJ promotes a divisive Manichaean world-view, wherebthe TJ "we" see themselves as separate from and hostile (and superior) to thmorally and spiritually degenerate "them" that is us, the non-Muslim kuf(infidel). It is also true that they have renounced politics and violencpurely for temporary and pragmatic reasons; they certainly have no objectionin principle to physical jihad and violence when appropriate, as these are key part of their Deobandi Islamic tradition.

Your correspondent is charitable when he writes that "councillors in thLabour-majority borough have reacted angrily to the Christian Peoples Alliancand its campaign" to stir debate over the Newham mosque. In fact, accusationagainst us of being "anti-Muslim" and "every bit as evil as the BNP" have beethrown in order to close down democratic debate and scrutiny of this massivmosque project.

I am grateful that their Labour Party colleague Jack Straw MP has showforesight and statesmanship in raising the similarly sensitive "veils" issueRather than patronisingly protecting Muslim communities from controversy bavoiding discussion of key issues, I hope we can debate matters with our Muslifellow-citizens with mutual respect and maturity.

Newham Christian Peoples Allian
64 Burke Street, London E16 1ET

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