UK Muslims want national council

Proposed National Advisory Council could recommend ways for mosques to prevent extremism.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 24, 2005 03:09
2 minute read.

 
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British Muslim leaders called on the government Thursday to establish a national body to oversee mosques and imams as part of efforts to combat extremism following the July bombings in London. Working groups advising the government said the proposed National Advisory Council of Imams and Mosques could recommend ways for mosques to prevent extremism, train imams and encourage British-born Muslims to become clerics.

Lord Ahmed, a Labour Party member of the House of Lords who headed one of the groups, said 1,700 of the estimated 2,000 imams in Britain were educated and trained abroad. "As British Muslims we need to be prepared to modernize the way we operate, encouraging integration and helping our children to feel proud to be British," he said. "I and my colleagues believe that the establishment of this Advisory Council is an important step towards this goal."

Other proposals called for a "national roadshow" of influential religious scholars to tour the country with a moderate message for young people, and a national forum to tackle both extremism and Islamophobia. Home Secretary Charles Clarke, who set up the working groups after four suicide bombers killed 52 commuters on the London transit system on July 7, welcomed the proposals and said the government would spend 5 million pounds (US$9 million) over the next 18 months to pursue some of the ideas.

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