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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 July 2005, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Mosque reacts to London bombings
By Ayesha Tanzeem
BBC News in London

Peace banner at the Central North London Mosque
Many different nationalities attend services at the mosque

The Central North London Mosque, also known as the Finsbury Park mosque, used to be associated with extremists - in particular, with controversial cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri.

But in recent months it has been given a new start and reclaimed for the mainstream Muslim community. The BBC's Ayesha Tanzeem visited the mosque just over a week after the London bombings.

One week after the bomb attacks in London, around 10 policemen were standing outside the doors of the Finsbury Park mosque, during the Friday prayers.

Policemen said they came every Friday, but regular mosque goers thought police presence was unusually high today.

Faisal Dimri described himself as the imam leader.

He said the Muslim community felt safer in the presence of the police, and the higher numbers were the police's own initiative.

The mosque gets people from different nationalities every Friday.

Now the extremists have been cleared out of the offices and the rooms where they slept
The BBC's Daniel Sandford

People from Somalia, Algeria, Bangladesh and Pakistan are amongst those who attend the Friday prayers.

The Friday sermon is usually in Arabic with the imam translating his words in English.

This week it started with the imam blasting the media, especially the Western media.

"If a non-Muslim commits a crime, they call him by his name," he said.

"Whereas if a Muslim commits a crime they call him a Muslim."

He said that by so doing, the media indirectly held the whole Muslim community responsible for the actions of one man.

He also blamed the government for making Muslims feel like they have to prove their allegiances.

They were not "passengers," they were part of this country, he said.

"They should not demand that we prove we are good citizens, we already are."

Teachings of the Koran

The imam also said that if someone had done something wrong, he should be mentioned by name but the rest of his family, his community or his religion should not have to bear the burden for the act.

He then went on to explain how the Koran teaches that all humans are the descendents of Adam, thus one family.

Police at the Central North London Mosque
The imam said the community felt safer with more police
According to the Koran everyone has the right to choose Islam or Kufr (lack of faith), he said. There is no compulsion in religion.

He then mentioned that killing is not allowed in Islam, and even in war one has to follow certain rules. Killing cannot be indiscriminate.

The imam mentioned the teachings of Mohammad, the prophet of the Muslims, and said that everyone had to be independent in his thinking.

One should not follow someone in evil even if committed by someone you revere. And evil should not be committed in reaction to someone else's evil.

"God demands you to be fair in your dealings. If someone else is unfair, you cannot use that as an excuse."

Harassment

Outside the mosque a dozen members of the media were standing across the street, trying to catch someone for a soundbite.

Two Pakistanis coming out of the mosque expressed the changes in their lives in the last week.

I was on a station when a guy came and pushed me and used abusive language as he passed
Syed Imad Hasan on life since the bombings

Syed Imad Hasan came to London from Karachi.

He said he and his friends had experienced brief incidents of harassment.

"I was on a station when a guy came and pushed me and used abusive language as he passed.

"Then one of my friends was standing on a station when a local came, spat on him and left."

Mr Hasan's friend Asif Ali said he understood the resentment.

"Obviously if someone does something like that in your country, there will be resistance. If this had happened in Pakistan they would not tolerate it either."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Tony Blair on the London bombings




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