Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 16:29 UK

'Racists kidnapped Muslim leader'

by Naresh Puri
BBC Home Affairs Reporter

Noor Ramjanally
Noor Ramjanally runs prayer sessions at Murray Hall in Loughton, Essex

A Muslim community leader has claimed he was kidnapped by white racists who threatened to kill him unless he stopped running prayer sessions.

Noor Ramjanally, 35, says two men abducted him at knifepoint from his home in Loughton, Essex, in broad daylight and bundled him into a car.

He claims the men told him to stop running prayer sessions at Murray Hall in Loughton.

Essex Police confirmed it was investigating the alleged abduction.

Mr Ramjanally told the BBC: "They knocked at my door and when I answered, they grabbed me by the wrists and marched me to their car.

"I was very scared, they had a knife placed right against my back
Noor Ramjanally

"I was thrown into the boot and then they drove me to nearby Epping Forest and threatened me.

"I was very scared, they had a knife placed right against my back.

"They drove me to nearby woodland and then walked me around the area for 10 minutes and then I was threatened."

Mr Ramjanally said his abductors told him Muslims were not wanted in Loughton and if he did not stop they would come back for him.

The attackers then left him alone in the woods.

'Hate crimes'

On 2 July this year, Mr Ramjanally received an anonymous letter telling him to stop using the hall for prayers. The next day his flat was firebombed.

Supt Simon Williams, of Essex Police, said: "We are treating the incidents as hate crimes, and a possible motivation would appear to be the use of Murray Hall by the Muslim community for Friday prayers."

It's terrible, I don't agree with these illegal actions
Councillor Pat Richardson
British National Party

In March, this year, Mr Ramjanally started running prayer sessions for local Muslims, which are attended by about 80 people.

The British National Party has been handing out leaflets titled No Mosques in Loughton, containing warnings about the "Islamification" of the area.

Mr Ramjanally believes the BNP campaign has led to the trouble that he has faced.

But Councillor Pat Richardson, leader of the BNP group on Epping Forest District Council, condemned the attack.

She said: "It's terrible, I don't agree with these illegal actions. I must say the BNP has no link to the incident.

Mr Ramjanally has vowed to continue his work and continue to pray at Murray Hall.

He said: "If I give in, then they have won , that will not happen."

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