Imam of Manchester Islamic Centre slams ‘politically motivated attack’
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The imam of an Islamic Centre in Sidney Street, Manchester has expressed his disappointment over claims that it is owned by the Iranian government.
He has called for ‘peace’ and said that it is a ‘politically motivated attack’ on the mosque.
“This place does not belong to government. If they want to protest and send their voice, they have to at least go to the embassy,” he said. “The mosque is a gathering for worship, we do not interfere in political issues. We don’t have anything in our programme that deals with politics. We have worshippers who come here who are pro government and anti government. Some people know we are Iranian and they think this place somehow belongs to the supreme leader,” the imam, Seyed Avaei, said after the place of worship was targeted when a group of ten people sprayed graffiti on its walls.
The incident took place on 25 September and left a man injured after he attempted to challenge the mob.
The police urged the public for any information they may have about the culprits in order to be able to catch them. An investigation is underway and a person was arrested in suspicion of criminal damage.
Additionally, they started strict patrols around mosques and Islamic centres following the incident.
Avaei, who is also a trustee at the mosque, revealed that the centre operates by the standards of the UK charity. “We work here by observing the law in this area and country, we want peace and we do not interfere in politics at all,” he said.
Superintendent Ian Jones, of GMPs City of Manchester division, said that he believes the incident was politically motivated and was linked to recent events in Iran, after massive protests erupted following the death of Mahsa Amini.
Jones said, “I’d like to reassure our local communities that we have increased patrols to keep people safe by minimising the risk of any further disorder. We are following up on a number of lines of enquiry and I would ask that anyone with information contacts police at the earliest opportunity. I’d like to re-iterate that public disorder and use of violence will not be tolerated. Everyone has the right to protest, however, putting people’s safety at risk and causing fear as well as criminal damage is never acceptable.”
Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, the welfare officer for the Manchester Council of Mosques, told Manchester Evening News, “Any incident of violence or anti-social behaviour at a mosque is deplorable and must be condemned in the strongest possible manner. Greater Manchester Police are still investigating the matter, but we believe that this is an isolated incident that is linked to the ongoing situation in Iran.
““The congregation of the Manchester Islamic Centre in the city centre is the Shia community and many of them are of Iranian heritage. We do not believe there is a wider risk of such incidents escalating to the majority of mosques and Islamic centres in the city.”