Show your support at a rally in Leeds City Centre this Wednesday.
Posted on 26 October 2015.
Posted on 18 September 2015.
It was harrowing and heart-wrenching to see a young boy, Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Mediterranean beach. Anyone with even a shred of humanity would be moved by that image. We have also heard desperate stories of people suffocated in lorries trying to reach Europe. In 2015, around 2,500 migrants are reported to have died trying to reach Europe, according to the IOM.
The conflict in Syria is by far the biggest driver of the mass migration, followed by Afghans and Eritreans. I acknowledge the significant role the UK is playing in providing funding and aid for refugees now living in the countries immediately neighbouring Syria. But now it is time to step up to the plate and open our doors to Syrian refugees. The UN has urged the EU to accommodate up to 200,000 refugees as part of a mass relocation programme. Germany has taken more Syrian refugees in a month than Britain has in a year. As the world’s sixth-richest economy, and a country that has historical involvement in the Middle East, Britain has a moral and humanitarian responsibility towards the Syrian refugees. In the midst of ‘migrant madness’, we must be mindful of the distinction between economic migrants and refugees fleeing war-torn homelands. We have a moral and ethical duty to help those fleeing from war-torn countries.
There has been a public outcry of compassion after the publication of Aylan Kurdi’s image. The British people in huge numbers, through petitions and offers of help, have shown they are prepared to welcome those who are fleeing fear and violence. I am profoundly moved by so many British people opening up the doors of their homes to welcome refugees. From single mums to local businesses, lawyers to lorry drivers, faith institutions to city councils – those from all sections of British society have opened up their hearts and emptied their pockets to help the refugees.
The refugee crisis now requires British and European governments to demonstrate political courage and human compassion to deal with the present global movement of people that is bigger than at any time since World War II. It is a defining moment in British history and our swift, decisive, amicable and compassionate response to the refugees will showcase our true ‘British values’ and our long tradition of welcoming people fleeing violence.
We are proud of Britain’s long heritage of welcoming refugees. In the past, Britain has welcomed thousands fleeing their countries – whether it be Huguenot Christians, Jewish refugees, Ugandan Asians, Vietnamese boat people and many more. We have a moral responsibility to honour this tradition and play our part in taking a proportionate number of refugees displaced by the ongoing Syrian conflict.
We must not forget that these refugees have been pushed towards the EU; they are forced out of their countries by violence, persecution and war. They are not trying to pursue a better economic life for themselves, something which is perfectly acceptable but which should be liable to strict immigration checks and balances. But they are trying to save their lives; they are trying to find shelter for their children and food for their stomachs.
The international community needs a new moral compass in the context of the growing number of deaths in the Mediterranean. The refugees are no longer one country’s or one continent’s problem; they are everyone’s problem. They are ‘our’ problem. We must tackle this issue above party and state-politics and beyond religious and racial divides. All religious traditions are clear: embrace the strangers: welcome the battered refugee people. My mosque, Makkah Mosque in Leeds, is working with local churches and charities to deliver the much needed aid to the refugees and migrants at Calais.
Accepting refugees is only part of the solution, the international community must come together to end violence against civilians in Syria. With winter fast approaching and with the tragic civil war in Syria spiralling further out of control, it seems inevitable that the situation of refugees will worsen significantly. Procrastination or inaction is simply not an option. The regional and international players must find a solution to the crisis because the truth is that the Syrian conflict has not been contained.
The conflict has spread throughout the region and is a recruitment tool for radicalization. Its consequences are felt throughout the globe. It is imperative that in our condemnation of the terrorism that has plighted our world we are just as vocal and active in speaking out against state aggression like this that leaves hundreds of thousands dead and millions more displaced.
We owe it to hundreds of drowned children to stop more young children dying on our shores. We must act and act quickly, with political courage and human compassion.
Posted on 25 February 2015.
Extreme Islamic groups and the ongoing ‘war on terror’ are the subjects of debate at a free public lecture at Leeds Beckett University on Wednesday 4th March.
Paul Rogers, Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and a leading expert on global security, will present his talk, ‘Islamic State – origins, evolution and future potential’ at the University’s Rose Bowl from 3-4.30pm. Places can be booked at http://ceasrislamicstate.eventbrite.co.uk
It is fourteen years since the ‘war on terror’ began, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, with a new front opening in Libya, intensive air raids in Syria and Iraq, continuing violence in Afghanistan, a worsening security situation in Nigeria and high levels of alert in Western Europe.
Professor Rogers will argue that something has gone badly wrong with the western way of war. Focusing particularly on Islamic State, he will try to put this in the context of the evolution of extreme Islamist groups and the seeming failure of Western security to understand what is happening.
“The subject of Professor Rogers’s talk is of great importance as it appears that Western governments do not have a clear understanding of the origins, evolution and future potential of Islamic State”, said Dr Paul Wetherly, Reader in Politics at Leeds Beckett. “Such understanding is essential in order to tackle the threat that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) presents in Iraq, Syria and the wider region, and to counter the appeal of its extremist message to small numbers of European citizens.”
Professor Paul Rogers began his career in the biological and environmental sciences, including lecturing at Imperial College, London, and has worked for the past 35 years in international security. He is a consultant to the Oxford Research Group, an independent UK think tank, writes on international security issues for www.opendemocracy.net/ and is a frequent broadcaster. The most recent of his 26 books is the third edition of Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century.
Posted on 06 February 2015.
The heinous crimes of ISIL must not be allowed to bring disrepute to Islam and Muslims
The horrific and barbaric act of burning the Jordanian pilot, Muadh al-Kasasbeh, by ISIL (the so-called ‘Islamic state’ of Iraq and Levant) has outraged the whole world. In this critical hour of grief, we stand united with the people of Jordan.
The burning of a Muslim alive was utterly shocking because the use of immolation is almost unheard of throughout Islamic history and in the modern Middle East. Any brutal tyrant regime in the Middle East that may have used such abhorrent terror tactics has received universal condemnation.
The use of immolation is against the teachings of Islam and in no way justified. ISIL has released numerous videos showing acts of barbarity including beheadings and mass shootings.The perpetrators should be brought to justice for such un-Islamic, inhumane and abhorrent crimes.
In Islam it is forbidden to burn a human being, whether dead or alive. Human beings are the crown of God’s creation. Allah, Majestic, says: “Truly We have honoured human beings” (Al-Isra’ 17: 70). Burning a human being shows an absolute disregard to the honour bestowed upon a human being by the Lord.
There is much Prophetic guidance against taking revenge through burning a human being. In one of his hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No one is entitled to punish with fire except the Creator of the fire”. (Abu Dawud, No. 2673).
Torture, which constitutes another cruel method, is also strictly prohibited in Islam, when it is purely used for revenge. The Prophet of Islam is reported to have said, “God will torture those who torture people on this earth.”
Islamic law considers the unjust killing of a single person as horrible and punishable. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “A believer remains within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn’t kill another person illegally”. Further, another hadith states: “The faithful is he in whom people place their confidence about their property and life’.
The most potent tool in the Islamic State’s arsenal has been its willingness to push the boundaries of barbarity. ISIS or IS neither speak for Islam nor is their poisonous ideology shared by Muslims across the globe. It is also noteworthy that Muslims throughout the world have condemned each and every act of violence perpetrated by ISIL. Muslims do not recognise the so-called ‘Islamic state’ because of its un-Islamic, illegal and immoral practices and have been very vocal in distancing themselves from the evil acts of ISIL
In the last few months, we have witnessed horrific and barbaric acts of murder and persecution. It is disgusting to note that perpetrators of such abhorrent acts are claiming to be murdering people in the name of a religion. There is no room for any argument or suggestion that this type of burning alive or callous, cold murder of a human is in any way justified in the teachings of Islam.
ISIL want to create fear in the hearts of people. The use of immolation introduces a fresh form of terror. The heinous crimes of ISIL must not be allowed to bring disrepute to Islam and Muslims.
Governments in the Middle East and the West must formulate an intelligent, robust and sustainable strategy to deal with the sophisticated social media terror campaign that is being run by IS to create fear in hearts of people and to recruit young impressionable individuals.
Muslim scholars, in particular British Imams, have declared an intellectual, ideological and spiritual war against fanaticism, extremism and terrorism. It is high time for those who believe in peace to stand up against violence and tackle the causes, strategy, methodology and the outcome of extremism and terrorism.
The fact that video showing a Jordanian being burnt alive has been released in the first week of February is significant. It is pertinent to remind ourselves of Jordan’s efforts in bringing communities together and procuring that the first week of February is observed as a World Interfaith Harmony Week. The World Interfaith Harmony Week revolves around two commandments: ‘Love of the God, and Love of the Neighbour’. The World Interfaith Harmony Week initiative provides a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provides a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities.
As we observe the Interfaith Harmony Week, British Muslims stand in solidarity with the family and friends of Muadh al-Kasasbeh and call on everyone not to let acts of hatred or terrorism divide our communities.
Qari Asim, MBE
Imam Makkah Masjid Leeds
Posted on 15 September 2014.
Leeds Muslim Council unreservedly condemns the cold and callous murder of a fellow British citizen, David Haines. We offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of David Haines. He will remain in our thoughts and prayers at this extremely disturbing time.
The barbaric and despicable acts of pseudo ‘Islamic State’ are absolutely contrary to the teachings of Islam.
Imam of Makakh Mosque, Dr Qari Asim said: “ISIS or IS neither speak for Islam nor is their poisonous ideology shared by Muslims across the globe.
“In the last few months, we have witnessed horrific and barbaric acts of murder and persecution by IS. It is disgusting to note that perpetrators of such abhorrent acts are claiming to be murdering people in the name of a religion. There is no room for any argument or suggestion that this type of callous, cold murder of a humanitarian is in any way justified in the teachings of Islam.
“David Haines’ burning passion and courage to help people in need in conflict zones will continue to inspire generations. His savage murder is not only an attack on an individual, but an attack on the whole humanitarian cause. Through their evil actions, ISIS have shown that they are an affront to human dignity and human conscience.
“It is a moral obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose ISIS’s toxic ideology, especially when this is being promoted within Britain.
“IS want to create fear in the hearts of people. The heinous crimes of IS must not be allowed to destabilise the good relationships that exist between faith groups and communities in Britain. Rather, this is precisely where the relationships we have built up can help us defeat terrorism and build stronger communities.”
Governments in the Middle East and the West must formulate an intelligent and robust strategy to deal with the sophisticated social media terror campaign that is being run by IS.
We stand in solidarity with David Haines’ family and call on everyone not to let acts of hatred or terrorism divide our communities.
Posted on 05 September 2014.
Imam of award winning mosque, Makakh Mosque, Dr Qari Asim has this to say in response to the recent violence committed by the radical terrorist group;
“The depraved acts of pseudo ‘Islamic State’ including beheading, murdering of civilians and journalists, enslaving of women and children of their opponents, persecution of minority groups are absolutely contrary to the teachings of Islam.
ISIS or IS neither speak for Islam nor their poisonous ideology is shared by billions of Muslims across the globe.
In the last few weeks, we have witnessed horrific and barbaric acts of murder and persecution. It is disgusting to note that perpetrators of such abhorrent acts are claiming to be murdering people in the name of religion.
It is a moral obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose Islamic State’s poisonous ideology which betrays the principles of Islam.
The heinous crimes of IS must not be allowed to destabilise the good relationships that exist between different faith groups in Britain. Rather, this is precisely where the relationships we have built up can help us defeat extremism and create stronger communities.
Our sincere condolences go out to the family and friends of Steven Sotloff and other victims of brutality of IS. They will remain in our thoughts and prayers at this extremely distressing time.”
For further details, please contact us on @LeedsMosque or @QariAsim
Posted on 03 September 2014.
The British Pakistani community is deeply appalled and horrified to learn the scale of child sexual exploitation perpetrated by men of Pakistani origin in the streets of Rotherham.
It is clear from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham (1997 – 2013) issued on 26 August that the victims have been let down by those who were meant to care for them and obvious signs of abuse were either missed or not fully investigated.
Despite three reports between 2002 and 2006, which both the council and police were aware of, no action was taken to protect the victims. “Any perceived racial tension or cultural sensitivity should have never been a bar to applying the law and exposing criminals”, said Dr Qari Asim, Imam at award-winning mosque, Makkah Masjid, Headingley.
Prof Alexis Jay’s report has revealed that a disproportionate number of men of Pakistani origin were the perpetrators in Rotherham. Imam Qari Asim said: “Sexual predators come from all backgrounds and all sections of society. It is not credible to blame a whole community for the acts of a tiny minority of criminals; such an agenda of hate and division will only deflect the attention from the real issue that we do not have a robust system in place to protect the vulnerable.
“We need to be careful about not creating stereotypes around just Pakistani men, or just white girls. Victims of sexual exploitation come from all classes, religions and backgrounds. Many of the victims of this sexual abuse were young girls of Asian background”, said the Imam.
“Some groups are exploiting the Rotherham inquiry and are linking the depraved actions of the perpetrators to Islam”, said Haji Muhammad, a spokesperson for Leeds Muslim Council. “It is rather the lack of spirituality in the perpetrators that could be said to be one of the key factors in them committing such grossly sickening and deplorable acts.”
“Islam protects the rights of women and young, irrespective of their faith or background, and therefore sexually abusing any vulnerable individual is contrary to the teaching of Islam”, said Imam Qari Asim. “It is equally abysmal if members of the British Pakistani community were aware that some individuals or gangs were exploiting children and young girls and they failed to report them to the relevant authorities.
“There needs to be a more honest and open dialogue within our community so that it is clear to everyone that abuse or abusers within any of our communities will not be tolerated. We have a responsibility to stand up and protect the vulnerable in our society.”
Posted on 17 July 2014.
Red Ladder supporters Phill Jupitus and Paul Heaton got behind the ‘Save Red Ladder’ big red megaphone for the official launch of www.saveredladder.co.uk.
Following the announcement on Tuesday 1 July that the UK’s leading radical theatre company Red Ladder is to receive a 100% cut to its Arts Council funding, a team of independent supporters have set up a campaign to save the company.
The campaign’s website went live on Tuesday, although early donations to online platform www.localgiving.com/redladder already total over £5000, with the campaign’s twitter account reaching over 1000 followers in its first week.
The #GisATenner campaign is based on the fact that if each of Red Ladder’s Twitter followers gave £10 that would cover the full production budget of one UK tour (£80,000), and half of the £160,000 that the company had cut. The company’s only other current core grant in aid is an annual £5000 from Leeds City Council.
“Red Ladder is that rare thing within UK theatre – a company that has successfully continued to produce theatre that is energetic, entertaining and angry at a time when it needs to be angry,” said Phill Jupitus who starred in Red Ladder’s 2012 show, Big Society. “But more importantly, consistently produces work that speaks to the wide majority of people who don’t consider themselves ‘theatre goers’. Red Ladder’s work is important, and Red Ladder is important. To lose them at a point in British history where the fight against everyday inequality and everyday injustice is being lost all around us would be a genuine tragedy.”
Red Ladder’s show We’re Not Going Back is on UK tour from September. For tickets visit www.redladder.co.uk.
Posted on 23 May 2014.
MPs have joined serving soldiers and new veterans at the Carnegie Great Outdoors faculty of Leeds Metropolitan University for a team briefing session in preparation for their gruelling expedition in aid of The Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre.
They are aiming to raise £10,000 for The Legion’s Battle Back Centre based in Lilleshall, Shropshire, which is an adaptive sport and adventurous training facility for wounded, injured and sick Armed Forces personnel. Participants undertake sports such as climbing, caving, wheelchair basketball, clay shooting and archery, to help overcome physical and psychological challenges, promote self-confidence and improve motivation to aid recovery.
Greg Mulholland MP met with fellow team members including Dave Bunting, the Expedition Leader and also Head Coach at The Battle Back Centre, and Lyndon Chatting-Walters, a former soldier who has completed a rehabilitation course at the Battle Back Centre and who now works for CGO. The team tried on their kit and had a final team briefing with the Carnegie Great Outdoors faculty before they set off to Ecuador.
“After months of training I can’t wait to get out to Ecuador and start the expedition. It’s certainly a tough challenge, but the worthwhile cause will help to push us on,” said Greg. “The Carnegie Great Outdoors team from Leeds Metropolitan University do amazing things at the Battle Back Centre to help wounded Armed Forces personnel and I feel privileged to be part of such a great team.
You can sponsor the team and help raise funds for the Centre via their justgiving page; http://www.justgiving.com/TRBLEcuador2014 , or text “TRBL93” + the amount you wish to donate (£1 – £10) to 70070.
Posted on 13 May 2014.
As the countdown to the Grand Départ in Yorkshire reaches its climax Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, a National Trust site near Ripon, are hosting some fantastic events to get everyone involved.
Leading the programme will be author, TV presenter and cyclist Rob Penn. Known for his mad-cap and impressive two-wheeled endeavours such as riding around the world and biking across Wales in the dark. He’ll be entertaining an audience at Fountains this Friday 16 May. Tickets cost £10, booking essential online at www.letourripon.co.uk
On the evening of Tuesday 27 May a Family Bike Ride means aspiring Bradley Wiggins’ can enjoy a rare opportunity to cycle around the ruins of Fountains Abbey and through the beautiful water garden. It’s a free event and there’ll be a short route for little legs too, so saddle up and head to the Studley entrance of the estate at 6pm (last admission 7pm).
Gathering momentum this special season of events includes Tour de Cinema, a real one-off experience to experience outdoor cinema on the abbey west green. Sit back and enjoy some of the best films ever made about Yorkshire life, including Alan Bennett’s rarely-seen A Day Out, and The Big Melt, co-directed by Martin Wallace and Jarvis Cocker. Tickets are free but booking essential. Book online at http://sheffdocfest.com/view/fountainsabbey
Into the home straight there’s a chance to test your stamina on some amazing new skyrides, created in partnership with British Cycling. These guided rides are free and led by a trained leader and range from a steady 14 mile route to a challenging 28 mile course, you just need to register on the Skyrides website to take part http://www.goskyride.com/