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Image of Together Stronger event organised in Ilford by the British Pakistani Christian Association
A report produced by charity 'Citizens Uk' (click here) has concluded that mosques in the UK must appoint British-born imams who speak fluent English and understand British culture. The report suggests that imam that fit such a profile are more likely to be 'fit for purpose' and will help parishioners understand how to fit into 'modern British life.' The report was produced to examine the participation of the Islamic community in public life.
The report was very clear on the fact that many of the imams working in the UK were born, lived their lives and were trained abroad.
“It is of great importance that British-born imams, who have a good understanding of British culture and who fluently speak English, are encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives,” the report said.
The report also recommended that accredited universities and colleges create new teaching syllabuses and courses for imams. This would ensure that training was standardised and monitored. Moreover it was also suggested that imams should take a more involved role in ensuring that they tackle anti-semitism, Christian persecution and more virulent forms of Islam.
The commission was co-chaired by Jenny Watson, who has previously chaired the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Electoral Commission.
Other commissioners included Sophie Gilliat-Ray, a professor of Religious Studies at Cardiff University, and the founding Director of the Islam-UK Centre, Ifath Nawaz, a consultant solicitor who founded the Association of Muslim Lawyers UK, and Professor Mohamed El-Gomati, who promotes the contribution of Muslims in science, technology and civilisation.
Other members of the panel included Bishop Dr Eric Brown, the businessman and philanthropist Sir Trevor Chinn and the diversity director at Lloyds Banking Group Fiona Cannon.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:
"The report titled 'The Missing Muslims' puts forwards some very useful suggestions on tackling radicalism within mosques and Muslim communities in the UK. But despite having a strong input from key Muslims in the UK, I fear that the findings will be met with apathy and disgust.
"Primarily because this report and its findings are anachronistic. If the report had been published 20 years ago we could have countered the radicalization of many mosques and Muslim communities that now have already been indoctrinated. Many young British Muslim men wanting to enter the Islamic clergy are already exhibiting intolerant behaviour having absorbed the harsher ideologies of a long established deployment of overseas imams - a large percentage of them now hold more dangerous opinions then imams that taught them.
"Moreover, which imam from abroad is going to give up his role in a mosque because this report states he is less suitable for the role. Imam's have great authority making it difficult to remove radicals from a posting - a challenge that creates a real quandary in gaining momentum for change."
"I have no objection to any of the solutions posed by this report, but am sceptical of success towards its aims. Years of neglect have allowed more twisted theologies to consume many Muslims in Britain with the affect of polarizing them against Non-muslims. Sadly in the end I believe it will be animosity towards allowing kaffir (infidels) from inputting into the Muslim faith and society that will result in this report being discarded and therefore nullifying the efforts of a very capable and impassioned team of academics."