More than 130 imams and Muslim religious leaders in the United Kingdom have said they will refuse to perform funeral prayers for the Manchester and London terrorists as a rebuke to the “dastardly cowardice” of the “vile murderers.”
The Muslim Council of Britain released a letter Monday with 132 signatories including imams, scholars and leaders of various Islamic organizations. The MCB describes itself as an institution established to “promote consultation, cooperation and coordination on Muslim affairs in the United Kingdom,” working together with Islamic schools and mosques.
There are approximately 3 million Muslims, and 1,750 mosques, in the U.K.
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“We are deeply hurt that a spate of terror attacks have been committed in our country once more by murderers who seek to gain religious legitimacy for their actions,” the letter read. “We seek to clarify that their reprehensible actions have neither legitimacy nor our sympathy.”
“Though at no time is it acceptable, that such ruthless violence was perpetrated during the season of Ramadan, in which Muslims worldwide focus on pious devotion, prayer, charity and the cultivation of good character, demonstrates how utterly misguided and distant the terrorists are from our faith and the contempt which they hold for its values,” it continued.
The letter also praised U.K. law enforcement and encouraged other imams and religious leaders to “withdraw such a privilege” of performing funeral rites for the attackers. ISIS has taken credit for both the Manchester and London attacks.
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“We pray to God that the perpetrators be judged in accordance with the gravity of their crimes in the hereafter,” the letter read. “Their acts and willful dismissal of our religious principles alienates them from any association with our community for whom the inviolability of every human life is the founding principle.”
One of the signatories, Imam Yunus Dudhwala, Head of Chaplaincy & Bereavement at Barts Health NHS Trust, told Yahoo News the letter was a “grassroots effort,” and called on the U.K. government to reach out to the Muslim community for help combatting terror.
“When the government doesn’t talk to Muslim leaders, then they are going to get their strategy wrong,” he said, while at the same time denying that U.K. Islamic institutions facilitate radicalization.
“To my knowledge, there is not a single mosque in the country that preaches hate, violence, or extremism,” he said. “It’s the Internet. It’s foreign policy, identity, and previous criminal behavior that we need to address.”
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