On 17th March 2010, soldiers from the Mercian regiment Nottinghamshire visited the Bobbersmill community centre. These soldiers had recently returned from Afghanistan and Karimia Institute was requested to give these soldiers a tour of the Bobbersmill Community Centre and showcase various projects based at the community centre. Sadly, a small number of people from anti imperialist action protested outside the community centre before, during and after Friday prayers (19/3). They objected to the soldiers being welcomed here in our centre, I feel it is important that I address this issue and so would like to send out the following response.
I think it’s important first to note that Karimia Institute has an open door policy with regards to the mosque, anyone Muslim or non-Muslim is welcome and we do not judge people as saints or sinners. Bobbersmill Community Centre has previously welcomed visitors from church’s, Christian seminaries, teachers and children from various schools and students from colleges and universities, all of whom wished to learn about our beautiful religion. I feel privileged when people ask to visit our amazing community centre and I relish the opportunity of educating people about our wonderful deen.
I have always opposed the war on Afghanistan. On the eve of the war, I was invited to 10 Downing Street along with other Muslim leaders and several senior bishops. All the Muslims present spoke unanimously against the war and I personally told the prime minister “this will be a serious mistake with awful consequences.”
Similarly, Karimia Institute along with the anti war movement, took 8 coaches to march against the war on Iraq. It’s clear that my track record is one of opposing these two wars; I have often spoken and written against both wars throughout the past 9 years.
However, we need to understand that in 2010, 9 years after the Afghanistan war began, things are very different. Afghanistan now has a fragile government that has been democratically elected; anyone who respects democracy cannot fail to appreciate this development. We should be working towards strengthening Afghanistan and giving the country the support it needs.
The role of Taliban in Afghanistan however is destructive as they carry out:-
1) Terrorist activities against the Afghan government, Afghani people and democracy.
2) Taliban are working in collaboration with war lords who make millions out of growing and selling heroine.
3) Taliban are responsible for suicide bombing and killing of 100’s of innocent Afghanis & Pakistanis
On the other hand, British soldiers are involved in:-
1) Training the national Afghan army and police.
2) Supporting the Afghan government.
3) Providing development work for rebuilding Afghanistan.
Without this support the Afghan people would be left without any kind of security and no medicine or food would get into the country, Afghanistan would suffer even more.
British Muslims opposed the war and rightly so but today they support the democracy and rebuilding of Afghanistan. The British Army today is doing just that, so we should support our soldiers. We believe British Muslims must build stronger relations with mainstream agencies.
British Muslims have often been criticised by media for not being loyal citizens, Muslims are regarded as the fifth column by some people. This is responsible for the growing islamaphobia, dread and hatred of Muslims. As a consequence, British Muslims are facing many difficulties, Given it is imperative for Muslims to show their loyalty to their community, one way is to appreciate the difficult task our Armed Forces are doing abroad in particular helping Afghanistan become a better country for its people through training its armed force and police so that Afghanistan becomes a safe place.