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29 October 2014, 07:08
Mosque leaders in Portsmouth say they're working together with police and the council - to prevent young Muslims from the city being radicalised.
They've released a joint statement condemning Islamic State, after four young men from Portsmouth were killed fighting in Syria.
Police say specialist officers are trying to stop any more travelling there, or to Iraq.
The full statement reads:
'We are united in our condemnation of hatred, violence and racism. We are united in our condemnation of the group known as the Islamic State.
'Support for the group which calls itself Islamic State or Caliphate is illegal, and utterly opposed to everything that those who follow the Islamic faith believe in.
'We are working together to support our young people, to prevent them from the damaging effects of radicalisation, and to prevent them from travelling to Syria, Iraq or any other place in the world where violence is used in the name of Islam.
'We condemn the actions of any group which seeks to influence impressionable young Muslims to leave the safety of their communities to commit acts of terrible violence overseas.
'It is not a humanitarian cause they would be joining, it is a violent and terrible regime. Such acts of violence are barbaric and inhumane. There is absolutely no basis in Islam for these acts. It stands against every teaching the Qur’an gives us.
'We share the sentiments of the Muslim Council of Britain, which stated: “ISIS does not speak for Islam, and has been repudiated by all Muslims. Their message only appeals to those who are easily duped by their twisted message purporting to be Islam. They seek to glamorise their violence, and unfortunately, the media has a part to play in adding to that glamour.”
'We appeal to the media and our local communities to not give rise to the idea that Muslims are or could be sympathetic towards ISIS. This does nothing but spread further hate.
'By standing strong together, we can protect our communities and keep our young people safe from harm.'
Liakoth Ali Mufti - Muslim Academy
Abdul Jalil Chairman - Jami Mosque
Mohammed Ahmed President - Central Mosque
Salim Rahman Director - Madani Academy
David Williams – Chief Executive – Portsmouth City Council
Donna Jones - Leader - Portsmouth City Council
Will Schofield – Superintendent – Hampshire Constabulary
Alison Heydari – Chief Inspector – Portsmouth, Hampshire Constabulary
Portsmouth District Commander Superintendent Will Schofield said:
“We have specialist officers who work very closely with the community in Portsmouth to implement the national Prevent programme.
“This involves supporting those who may be vulnerable to radicalisation and helping to prevent people from travelling overseas to become involved in conflict and terrorist activity.
“The Prevent Team and Portsmouth District Safer Neighbourhoods team are in regular contact with Muslim community leaders in Portsmouth from each of the mosques. Imams have invited officers to give speeches at Friday prayers and these have all been well received.
“The messages have asked local people to discourage any further travel and to advise their community members that if they wish to help the suffering Syrians, then performing charity work is the best way to do this.
“The Portsmouth Central Safer Neighbourhoods team has been involved in community events and regularly visits the Mandani Academy in the city to speak with young people and women who use the facility regularly, building up a really good relationship.
“Prevent work in Portsmouth is ongoing, we have been successful in reaching vulnerable young people, which has been greatly assisted by strong working relationships with Portsmouth Muslim leaders and our partners at Portsmouth City Council.”
Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:
"Portsmouth is a strong community and we are proud to stand together and condemn those few involved with terrorist activities in the name of Islam.
"This is not an issue exclusive to Portsmouth, it is not an issue about social deprivation, these young men came from a variety of backgrounds.
"We are a tolerant and supportive city with residents who'll strongly object to any extremist views, whether it's far right EDL or radicalised Muslims.
"However we have been working for a number of years to prevent vulnerable young people from being misinformed.
"Extremist activity has severe and very real consequences. There is such a high price to pay for those involved, this is not a glamorous life, people are killed and families have been left devastated.
"Portsmouth is a tolerant and united city, and will continue our work with the police and community leaders to spread this message."