Didsbury mosque cleared of any wrongdoing

22nd Feb 2019

Elham Asaad Buaras

Greater Manchester’s (GMP) Counter Terrorism police have cleared Didsbury mosque of any wrongdoing following an investigation into one of the Friday khutbah [sermon] delivered on December 16, 2016.

A BBC exposé which was aired on August 18, 2018, showed Imam Mustafa Graf referencing ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’ during his khutbah.

However, mosque officials insisted the part recorded comments were taken out of context, Counter-terror investigators agreed that ‘no offences have been committed’ following consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and after receiving expert advice.

Though people may have been concerned at the ‘tone’ of the speech, mosque trustees are committed to dealing with ‘extreme’ behaviours, they said.

In a joint statement, Manchester City Council and Counter-Terrorism Policing North West said: “We have engaged with the Mosque Trustees for several months and they have committed themselves to monitor and deal with behaviours which could be considered extreme while maintaining their right to freedom of expression. We will continue to work with these trustees.”

The BBC spoke to two Muslim scholars who reported that Graf said: “We ask Allah to grant them mujahideen – our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq – to grant them victory.” It was also claimed he said: “Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation.”

The mosque’s trustees said Graf was highlighting the plight of Syrian civilians after chemical bombings in the country. They said his use of the words ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’ had been misinterpreted.

A mosque spokesman said at the time: “Jihad is an Arabic word meaning to ‘struggle’ or ‘strive for good’, and it is often used incorrectly. This sermon was after the chemical bombings in Syria. There was a big charity campaign in the UK to try to raise funds for the victims.”

“The Imam was saying that everyone should put their money where their mouths were and give to charity. When speaking in Arabic he used the word jihad, meaning to struggle and strive or to give. The English translation said something like ‘you must all give to charity’. But instead of translating the full sermon they [the BBC] have translated all the Arabic words around jihad but left that as it is. That’s what’s really frustrating, and it doesn’t make sense. We do not tolerate or instigate any form of preaching that breaches both Islamic principles and the laws of England and Wales.”

They said Graf no longer gives sermons and, at the time of the recording, two preachers were delivering sermons on a rotation basis. A BBC spokesperson said: “We cooperated with Greater Manchester Police in their investigation and we note their findings.”

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