We’re coming up to the first anniversary of the Manchester bombing on the 22nd May. A heinous act carried out by an ISIS-supporting radical Islamist who specifically wanted to target young girls. Twenty-two people lost their lives and over 800 people were injured that night.
This weekend on the eve of the anniversary, as well as on 2nd June when the DFLA march, thousands of working-class men and women will gather to pay their respects and to call upon the Government to take more action. These people are being labelled as far-right by the Socialist Worker and their associates. This is a disgusting smear.
The left does not have a monopoly on how we feel or how we commemorate this terrorist atrocity. They demonise the working-class men and women who simply want to pay their respects and press for change. What a perversion when political correctness forces you into bigotry and prejudice, by demonising an entire group of people as “far-right racists” for standing up to the real bad guys. Their hatred and anger is directed against the very group of people brave enough to speak out time and again. They should be standing alongside them, pressing the Government to take action in tackling the roots of extremism.
We should absolutely be speaking out. One of the things we should be calling for is the immediate closure of the Salafi extremist Didsbury Mosque. “The Didsbury mosque is the only Arab mosque in that region [North West] and it is run by the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Haras Rafiq, chief executive of the anti-extremism think-tank Quilliam. The Muslim Brotherhood is a radical Islamist organisation that is banned in several Arab countries.
The truth about Didsbury Mosque
Didsbury Mosque is where Salman attended and where Abedi’s father did the call to prayer.
Quilliam’s Rafiq suggests (Abedi’s radicalisation was) “the result of layers upon layers of indoctrination that contributed to his radicalisation. Through his father, through his connections, through the mosque, he has been absorbing Salafi ideology and theology.”
The mosque has hosted hate preachers who called for British soldiers to be killed and gays and adulterers to be stoned to death.
The mosque has even hosted Abu Qatada. A former worshipper, Mr Alyrani, said: “This mosque was always a peaceful place but then it started to change. I was there from 1994 to 1999 and left because I had arguments with people as I spoke out against Abu Qatada. He was invited to the mosque several times to give lectures. I was assaulted inside the mosque by another worshipper and had my nose broken because I spoke out against him.”
As at May 2017, Didsbury Mosque’s YouTube channel still featured videos from clerics including American Abdullah Hakim Quick. He called for homosexuals to be killed and death for those who do not follow Islam.
The Imam of Didsbury Mosque was a frontline fighter in the Libyan civil war. Mustafa Graf, 46, appeared alongside elders at Didsbury Mosque at a press conference condemning the atrocity which killed 22 people and distancing themselves from Abedi.
Mr Graf admitted being in Libya during the 2011 revolution and that he was captured by forces from the Gaddafi regime.
He claimed he was there to help his parents and brothers flee the fighting, but in a video report shot by the French AFP news agency, a British fighter named Mostafa Abdallah Graf describes preparations for battle against Gaddafi’s forces at Beni Walid, near Tripoli.
Akram Ramadan, a friend of the family who also fought during the Libyan war, said many fathers took their sons to fight and they returned confused.
To give you a further flavour of what goes on inside this mosque, in a BBC Question Time programme an audience member said he was given an ‘anti-West’ leaflet at Didsbury Mosque, which said ‘modesty, shame and honour have no place in Western civilisation’.
“Direct from Didsbury mosque this is a leaflet that I was given on an open day and this says living in a society in which people have accepted Western lifestyle as their way of life brings immorality at every step. Modesty, shame and honour have no place in Western civilisation. That is direct from Didsbury mosque and that was given in a very expensive package with DVDs,” the audience member said.
Maajid Nawaz, LBC host and founder of Quilliam speaking on LBC, said: “Not only did the Manchester Jihadist pray there, but it’s been associated with Al Qaeda linked groups, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
“So if this mosque has got people raising money for Al Qaeda-linked groups in it, and yet they’re claiming ‘we’re moderate because we reported an ISIS fighter’, well as I say, if Al Qaida opposes ISIS, that’s no definition of moderate.”
Maajid spoke of another who expressed extreme anti-Semitic views, who was allowed to speak at the mosque.
Maajid quoted the hate speech: “Look at the way they massacre, they blow up babies as if it’s computer games, they have no humanity, no morality, no ethics, no religion, no guidance, no light, nothing” – this is a speaker that was hosted in this mosque speaking about Jews.”
The LBC presenter added: “The spokesperson by the way, who is a trustee of the mosque, claims that it’s a mosque for all the community, and this is what’s been going on inside this mosque?”
Maajid also spoke about the anti-secular rhetoric also preached by some at the mosque.
He added: “Actually you know what the truth is, the biggest danger to our community at the moment is extremist preachers like this, using mosques that tolerate extremist preachers like this, that breed jihadist terrorists.
“That’s the biggest danger to our community, not liberal secular Muslims.
“If these are the views hosted in this mosque, and you go and report an ISIS bomber, and think I’m going to applaud you, think I’m going to congratulate you for being oh so moderate, when even Al Qaeda oppose ISIS?
“Surprise, surprise you happen to have the same sorts of speakers, with the same sorts of views that would sympathise with the same sorts of things that al Qaeda want to implement in their theocratic caliphate.
“So what you oppose ISIS, so what? That’s like saying ‘I oppose Stalin but I support the Nazis’ or else ‘I oppose Hitler but I support Stalin gulags’
“You hosted a speaker in your mosque who says secular liberal Muslims are the most, are the biggest danger in the community, so of course I’m going to speak out against you.
“Until we can separate, until we can separate these extremists from our community, and isolate them, don’t blame the rest of society for wondering whether every Muslim is an extremist, when our mosques are hosting the extremists themselves.”
Are Maajid Nawaz and Haras Rafiq far-right racists?
My question to the Socialist Worker and Stand Up To Racism: Are Maajid Nawaz and Haras Rafiq far-right racists? Is it far-right to take issue with this mosque? Is it acceptable for extremists to run this organisation and promote such hatred within our community? Are we wrong for speaking up about this?
I call upon the authorities to temporarily close down any and all mosques where we have suitable reason to believe there is a problem with extremism. They should only be reopened when the trustees and Imam’s have been replaced and then should be strictly monitored. We should have controls in place to permanently ban extremists from holding positions of influence within mosques. We do this with rogue company directors, so why can’t we do this with organisations that have considerably more influence in our community?
It is beyond belief that following the attack, one of the first instincts of the authorities was to turn up at Didsbury Mosque for press conferences with these radicals, when they should have been raiding the place and bagging up evidence of the extremist material. Taking no action also put other worshippers at risk. In November, the mosque went into lockdown after they were sent a letter containing suspicious white powder and potentially also led to another mosque being targeted in an arson attack.
I also call upon the authorities to refuse to release the attackers body and to dispose of it the same was Osama bin Laden was disposed: at sea. He cannot be allowed a hero’s funeral back in Libya.
This event is personal to me. This attack was too close to home. Salman Abedi went to the same high school I once attended – Burnage Boys. He practised making his bomb in the block of flats across the road from my local gym. My cousin had to separate the nuts and bolts from the bodies of the victims in the mortuary, including processing the body of the attacker. Please spare a moment for him and his colleagues, it was an awful job and the emotional support for these officers is insufficient.
Whilst we rightly criticise the police for their political correctness and thought-policing, there are men and women in the force that carry out the most awful of tasks away from the public eye and there are those that run into danger as we run away. People like PC Wayne Marques, who in the London Bridge attack ran at two Jihadis armed with just a baton. He was stabbed in the head and temporarily blinded in one eye. His bravery undoubtedly saved lives.
It is on that note, that I ask during any remembrance events that we bear this in mind. It will be an emotional time for everyone, including the brave officers of Greater Manchester Police. We ask that the far-left refrain from any violence that we usually see from their counter-demonstrations.
One year on. We should not look back in anger, but we should all look forward with purpose.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain
Follow our man Matt Lynch on Twitter @MattLynchGB!
Like our content? Consider a one-off donation via PayPal: