Wightman Road Mosque

Last night visited Wightman Road Mosque as part of Islam Awareness Week. Spoke to the Community Safety Forum set up so that we all in Haringey can work across our differences. There was a really large turnout and lots and lots of questions.

I want to pay tribute to Wightman Road Mosque and all who work there and in the Forum for the work they do in reaching out to the community, the integration work that goes on, the work with young Muslims and the genuine warmth that exists there.

I was particularly struck by the anger over the issue raised by a couple of people there about the language used by the media that still seeks so often to somehow link the word Muslim and terrorist – and I agree – that the media needs to understand what damage that does. Many terrorists are not Muslim. Many victims of terrorism are Muslim. But too often the media puts the two words together as if neither of these were the case.

I suggested that every time any one there sees such pejorative language they take it up directly with the media outlet. Recorded complaints are effective – as we saw the BBC over Ross/Brandt. But it should be public pressure, not legislation, that is used to tackle this issue.

It was a lively evening with lots of good questions on the Middle East, Iraq, free speech and much more. What was impressive as well was the desire to participate and someone else raised the issue of where can young people debate politics – without actually joining a political party. And I thought that was a very good question – as outside of the UK Youth Parliament, which is for younger people than this audience, there isn’t really a forum. So – I think we should look at how we might create one.

0 thoughts on “Wightman Road Mosque

  1. In making the decision whether to attend this forum at Wightman Road Mosque, I took into account my personal feelings about whether these forums are there to ensure that recommendations made are actually taken into consideration by the police, or whether such meetings are held and then decisions are conveniently put aside and never referred to. I did not attend because I find repetition pointless and a waste of my precious time. It is simply a tick box initiative, in my opinion. I think neither the diverse services nor the police have made any sufficient efforts in dealing with particular grievances and other things, and such meetings are simply talking shops to show somehow that certain people actually care. Because of that fact, I will continue to maintain that distance, but I think the issues I have previously raised at Haringey CPCG meetings are for the greater good, and this can be substantiated by the fact that I have previously received a standing ovation on two specific occasions. At a previous CPCG event, I challenged the Superintendent about the way the counter-terrorism label was being used by law-enforcement agencies to the effect that there is a real risk of criminalising minority communities. In a borough as diverse as Haringey, there has been a significant increase in the number of stop and searches without intelligence to the extent that this will eventually criminalise the very communities whose support the police require in their fight against terrorism. The impact of the counter terrorism laws will be that just at the time when the police need the confidence and trust of all (ethnic groups & Muslim communities, in particular), they may retreat inside themselves. We therefore need proper accountability and transparency round all policy and direction that affects our communities.All communities in Haringey support the police, and their efforts to tackle terrorism in principle, but we do not believe this practice should be carried forward with the effect of indirectly discriminating against people of certain ethnic groups, whereby there is disproportionate use of practices which are tended to be based more on physical appearance than being intelligence-led. There has been widespread objection not only in Haringey, but leading practitioners within the criminal justice system, which includes Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who has publicly criticised such policies and ideas coined by Government. The government also ignored the recommendation made by a group of influential Muslim politicians, amongst many others, who were invited to Number 10 to discuss issues impacting Muslim communities. Surprisingly, the government rejected almost all their recommendations. If the government can ignore the above people, what actually stops them listening to a group of Muslims at a local mosque? Not much! In regards to grievances of young Muslims in the media, I think post 11th September, Islam and Muslims have also become more frequently covered in media news reporting, particularly linking Islam and Muslims with terrorism. To a degree, Islam has become demonised and distorted by the West. However, each citizen- whether Muslim or non-Muslim- is able to exercise their right to complain to the Press Complaints Commission and directly writing to the editor of the newspaper, urging him to correct inaccuracies in his or her newspaper. I must say I agree with Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur who argues that, as a whole society, we must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment. In particular, we need to adopt an evidence-based approach to building solutions. I therefore support those who are calling for an independent judicial review of the issue of young Muslims and extremism and the wider community dimension.