Clerics speak out on counter-terrorism

Reporter: Iram Ramzan
Date published: 02 August 2017

EXTREMIST clerics from Pakistan have been back to Oldham to speak at a counter terrorism conference.

Muhammad Naqib ur Rehman and Hassan Haseeb ur Rehman were part of a group of faith leaders who spoke at The Werneth Suite Conference Centre, in Oldham, last month. They are on another tour across the UK and Europe which ends on August 27.

The aim of the conference, organised by the Ramadhan Foundation, was to "bring communities together and address terrorism".

However, the Pakistani clerics have led a high-profile campaign in their country in praise of Mumtaz Qadri, who was executed in January, 2016, after murdering Pakistani politician Salman Taseer in 2011 for opposing Pakistan's strict blasphemy laws. Qadri had claimed it was his religious duty to kill the Punjab governor.

The Chronicle reported on August 16, 2016 how the two clerics spoke to a large gathering at Madina Mosque and Islamic Centre in Clydesdale Street, Coppice, as part of a seven-week UK tour.

Shahbaz Taseer, whose father was murdered by Qadri, criticised British authorities for allowing the clerics into the country.

"These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in.

"It's countries like the UK and the US that claim they are leading the way in the war against terror [and] setting a standard. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?"

At the time of the 2016 visit, Imam Zahoor Chishti said the event was not organised by the mosque itself but by the clerics' team. He said the situation would change how things would be organised at the mosque and that the mosque "should take better precautionary measures."

The Chronicle tried contacting Imam Chishti and the Ramadhan Foundation but they were unavailable for a comment.

Cllr Barbara Brownridge, the Oldham Council cabinet member who leads on tackling extremism, said: "Oldham Council was invited to attend a Counter Terrorism Conference and ­- given the stated aims of the event ­- bringing together people from a range of public and private sector organisations, religions and beliefs to unite against terrorism, which I'm sure we can all agree is a positive thing ­- representatives attended.

"We had no control or responsibility for the invitation list or organisation of the event."

The Mayor of Oldham councillor Shadab Qumer and councillor Ateeque Ur-Rehman attended the event, along with Gorton MP and former North West MEP Afzal Khan.