Almost half of Britain’s mosques are under the control of a hardline Islamic sect whose leading preacher loathes Western values and has called on Muslims to “shed blood” for Allah, an investigation by The Times has found.
Riyadh ul Haq, who supports armed jihad and preaches contempt for Jews, Christians and Hindus, is in line to become the spiritual leader of the Deobandi sect in Britain. The ultra-conservative movement, which gave birth to the Taleban in Afghanistan, now runs more than 600 of Britain’s 1,350 mosques, according to a police report seen by The Times.
The Times investigation casts serious doubts on government statements that foreign preachers are to blame for spreading the creed of radical Islam in Britain’s mosques and its policy of enouraging the recruitment of more “home-grown” preachers.
Mr ul Haq, 36, was educated and trained at an Islamic seminary in Britain and is part of a new generation of British imams who share a similar radical agenda. He heaps scorn on any Muslims who say they are “proud to be British” and argues that friendship with a Jew or a Christian makes “a mockery of Allah’s religion”.
Seventeen of Britain’s 26 Islamic seminaries are run by Deobandis and they produce 80 per cent of home-trained Muslim clerics. Many had their studies funded by local education authority grants. The sect, which has significant representation on the Muslim Council of Britain, is at its strongest in the towns and cities of the Midlands and northern England.
Figures supplied to The Times by the Lancashire Council of Mosques reveal that 59 of the 75 mosques in five towns – Blackburn, Bolton, Preston, Oldham and Burnley – are Deobandi-run.
It is not suggested that all British Muslims who worship at Deobandi mosques subscribe to the isolationist message preached by Mr ul Haq, and he himself suggests Muslims should only “shed blood” overseas.
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I wonder, in the face of this fanaticism, how useful the British government’s latest anti-extremist plan is: to empower Muslim women by sending them to management courses. I’m laughing even as I write this. On the one hand, you have men and women who leave mosques imbued with the most powerful form of religious and political hatreds. And on the other hand, you have women who have been to a corporate empowerment class. Boardroom versus battlefield; negotiation table versus suicide bomber. The mind boggles.