• Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Manchester Islamic centre imam condemns ‘politically motivated’ attack on mosque

According to imam and trustee at the mosque Seyed Avaei, the place of worship was targeted to send a message to the Iranian government.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

The imam of an Islamic centre in Manchester has said that the place is not owned by the Iranian government as alleged, according to reports. 

He also condemned the ‘politically motivated’ attack on mosque on Sidney Street, Manchester, and called for ‘peace’.

A group of ten people sprayed graffiti on the walls of the Islamic centre and a man was injured after challenging the mob on September 25. Now police have appealed for information to nab the culprits.

Police also beefed up patrols around mosques and Islamic centres following the incident. An investigation into the incident is already underway and one man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

According to imam and trustee at the mosque Seyed Avaei, the place of worship was targeted to send a message to the Iranian government.

“This place does not belong to government. If they want to protest and send their voice, they have to at least go to the embassy,” he said. “The mosque is a gathering for worship, we do not interfere in political issues. We don’t have anything in our programme that deals with politics. We have worshippers who come here who are pro government and anti government. Some people know we are Iranian and they think this place somehow belongs to the supreme leader.”

He clarified that the centre is operating by the standards of the UK charity.”We work here by observing the law in this area and country, we want peace and we do not interfere in politics at all,” Avaei added.

Recently, it hosted Shia scholars who had links to the government in Iran. According to him, hosting the scholars were just a custom and nothing political.

Police said that they patrol the area frequently as protests take place across the world following the death of Mahsa Amini in Iran.

Superintendent Ian Jones, of GMPs City of Manchester division, believes that the incident was politically motivated and was linked to recent events in Iran.

Jones said: “I’d like to reassure our local communities that we have increased patrols to keep people safe by minimising the risk of any further disorder. We are following up on a number of lines of enquiry and I would ask that anyone with information contacts police at the earliest opportunity. I’d like to re-iterate that public disorder and use of violence will not be tolerated. Everyone has the right to protest, however, putting peoples safety at risk and causing fear as well as criminal damage is never acceptable.”

“Any incident of violence or anti-social behaviour at a mosque is deplorable and must be condemned in the strongest possible manner. Greater Manchester Police are still investigating the matter, but we believe that this is an isolated incident that is linked to the ongoing situation in Iran,” Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, the welfare officer for the Manchester Council of Mosques, was quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.

“The congregation of the Manchester Islamic Centre in the city centre is the Shia community and many of them are of Iranian heritage. We do not believe there is a wider risk of such incidents escalating to the majority of mosques and Islamic centres in the city.”

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