‘Muslims feel welcome in Swansea’ says Swansea University Imam

An Interview with the Imam of the University of Swansea, Sheikh Mohsen El-Beltagi, talks about the Muslims in Swansea and how they feel about living in the city.

Read more: http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Muslims-feel-welcome-Swansea-says-Swansea/story-24504093-detail/story.html#ixzz3J8F808Vi
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Kidwai announces the biggest sheikh ‘google’, sinners and extremist in Wales.

Saleem Kidwai (in the picture above) is a scholar and the secretary of the Muslim council of Wales (MCW); an umbrella body of mosques, schools, charities, Muslim societies and organisations. Its purpose is to educate and raise awareness of Islam. He has a major role in liaising with and advising the Welsh government, he works closely with the Muslim community of which there are approximately 73 mosque organisations in Wales. He solves issues, distributes information, analyzes feedback and announces policies to the society. Talking about terrorism Mr Kidwai doesn’t think there are any cases of terrorism threat locally stating

‘The Prime Minister has himself accepted and announced in the last conservative party conference that the Muslim community, the mosques and others are doing the best that they could do’

                                  Mr Kidwai talks about the sins of the Book 

Its clearly defined and stated by the Prime Minister from all the intelligence sources he has, to reference that they have been radicalised not by the mosque or imam’s but by the internet and individuals – that are not under our control. The only people who can deal with this are the government bodies. I am confident that the mosques represent the real Islam however, this is not how it is portrayed in the media. There are extremists who call themselves Islamic State Isis, Mr Kidwai explained an example of stereotyping to Adolf Hitler, who committed horrendous crimes because of his individual beliefs although his background is from the Christian faith. Isis are killing people against our beliefs as no one has the right to take a life, as he stated the Quran says

                            ‘When you take one life without any reason you are taking life of humanity, when you save a life you save humanity’

He doesn’t think there are issues with the interpretation of the Quran, its more of the ignorance of the people who fall into this trap due to their lack of knowledge they accept a misguided translation from anyone with a Muslim background who is perceived as Arabic due to a lack of Islamic education. You can take anything out of context and say what you want. We have the biggest sheikh known as ‘sheikh google’, put anything there and the google gives the answer. The problem is too much information and no knowledge to interpret the source is a problem, this is why I keep on explaining to government representatives:

  ‘The real allies in dealing with the extremists are the Sheyoukhs and the scholars of Islam because they can tell people what is right and wrong in the Quran’


Mr Kidwai & Prince Charles

Discussing the procedures in regards to banning and preaching in the UK Mr Kidwai explained, how do you define extremists ? every scholar that you have seen in the past as Dr Zakir Naik who has got Peace Tv, has been coming here for the last 15-20 years and the last 3-4 years he has been banned. He came to Cardiff we sponsored his lecture and I think he has a very good knowledge of comparative religion. He has been banned from the UK as people are now saying he is an extremist but previously the government welcomed him and gave him a visa. He has spoken around 13 cities in the UK but now he is banned although Oxford students union paid £8000 to have a 1 hour satellite link to hear him from India. No one made any objections that he was an extremist. If any other Islamic society invited him it would have been a big no but because it was Oxford university it was acceptable, the same with other speakers. Another incident occurred with a speaker Yosuf Estes when he was booked in a hall in the university, all clearance checks were confirmed with the authorities involved. The event was publicised and venue prepared, however 2 hours before starting they were told to cancel as he is an extremist although I personally don’t agree. We have asked the government to give us a list of people classed as religious extremists to avoid people advertising and then being banned from talking. In our community if we are told not to let extremists do anything in the mosque and community centre we stop them but they are allowed to pray, however, the local authorities were giving them space in their community centres to do whatever they wanted to do. These are the issues we have to deal with. My religion says very simply

 ‘Pedophile, stealing, homosexuality, drinking alcohol is all a sin. I cant change that because simply that is what my book says to me and that’s what the Jewish book and Christian Bible says.’

 We condemn the sin not the sinner because God says its wrong, we cant change it as he’s the authority.

‘There are thousands of Muslims that are gambling, drinking, fornicating and are doing the forbidden but we cant go and kill or hurt them but we can pray for them and give them guidance.’

Mr Saleem Kidwai picture: Zina Hikary

Mr Saleem Kidwai picture: Zina Hikary

He illustrated his beliefs as he works with homosexuals but if he is asked, is it right he cannot accept it because it’s a sin in the book. 50 years ago it was a crime in the UK. Also pedophilia is a great sin but in 50 years time if the law allows it, I will not, as it is forbidden in my religion and the person who commits this will be punished at the day of judgement. So would you class that as extremist ? These beliefs are the same as in both the Torah and Bible holy books. If the authorities decide to change this we have to abide by the law that is written in the Quran.

Debating the Isis propaganda videos and their effect on the community he explained the media is not in our control, they will give limited time to condemn this, which is why its easy to say Muslims are not contradicting or supporting Isis. Whatever we are doing in South Wales in regards to integrating with faith and the community this doesn’t appear to be as effective in England, Scotland or Ireland, the Media don’t cover this news but they feed of the bad news, as it’s the bad news that attracts the people. Last year the Muslim council of Britain and Wales submitted 58 press releases that didn’t get publicity because we are saying that we condemn this. Muslims are not agreeing with Isis and our mosques are open to anyone to see, listen and interact with us and that has made a tremendous impact in Wales.

Mr Kiwai & Prince Charles

Mr Kidwai & Prince Charles

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed has published on the 16th Of November 2014, a list of 83 terrorism associated groups and organisations and three of them are from the UK (Islamic Relief UK, The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) in Britain, Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)) Mr Kidwai explained that the Islamic relief is a global association and is one of the biggest firms in the UK, the government gives around 100 million pounds a year to the organisation. It is operated under the UK law and is registered and audited with the charity commission. Its impossible for them to be linked to any terrorism organisation and an investigation will be done to justify why their names appear on a terrorism list by the UAE government.

Swansea students angry, what horrific Idea is Isis.


Vice President of Islam society Miss Zainab Battar Picture: Zina Hikary

Five boys and four girls from Swansea University mosque were invited to discuss culture, religion, society and terrorism. Here are their conclusions.

They all reported that they are very happy living in Swansea and they love the city. They have experienced no issue regarding racism and discrimination. They have a close relationship with the authorities as the police visit the mosque every 2 weeks. There are no cultural issues.

They do not agree to call Isis the Islamic State. They are angry by the reference to it and declare that this is not Islam! they went on to say everything is completely the opposite; killing people and enslaving is not part of our religion. They are destroying the reputation of Islam through scare and fear. Isis justifies those actions – not through Islam. We consider Isis to be an individual group and not part of Islam. One student described Isis as an idea and that is why its quite horrific as you cannot stop an idea spreading. The media is helping to promote this and causing it to go viral.

Swansea University Students Picture: Zina Hikary

Swansea University Students Picture: Zina Hikary

Why would anyone consider joining Isis ? They explained that there could be issues in society – social, economical, educational, lack of true guidance and knowledge of Islam. The majority thought that radicalisation is not happening through mosques but through the internet. Some questioned if the government and politicians are against Isis – who sells them the weapons? Who buys the oil from Iraq ? ‘Western made toys they use it whenever they want !’ these are questions that need answering, why is the media calling them Islamic State when they only represent hatred.


Swansea Imam States ISIS Leader Is Mad

I met with Mr. Mohsen El-Beltagi (the Picture above) who is the Imam of the Mosque in Swansea University, to discuss the Muslim community, the effects of ISIS in particular on Swansea and his thoughts and concerns of the current situation. Below is the interview:-

ISIS are influencing people to fight to get back the democracy from the west, they are targeting people with no knowledge of Islam as he stated: ‘They are using some holy text from the holy Quran and statements from the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) in a very wrong way to influence other people.’


Imam Mohsen El-Beltagi In Swansea University Mosque                   Picture: Zina Hikary

He explained ISIS are disguising and wearing black, to express sadness how the Muslims are treated , or to fight until they die. He thinks they might disguise themselves because the community knows them and they want to hide their faith.

He explained why ISIS is benefitting from the war with the West, in order to draw attention ‘ it gives them status. They have succeeded as everyone is talking about them’. He was concerned how Muslims are perceived,  as  ISIS is named the Islamic State, he stated,

‘I want to mention that the Media are calling them the Islamic state, this is what really annoys us Muslims.  They are not the Islamic estate they are not a state at all, they are a small group of people who no one knows who supports them and where they came from. No single Muslim in Swansea consider that they represent Islam’

I asked if he considers the  leader of ISIS Abo baker Al Baghdadi a caliph,  he said No and that he nominated himself as a caliph, he explained according to Islam a  caliph must be nominated and elected by all Muslims and their representatives around the world, he called him mad as he stated

‘I consider him a mad person honestly, I stated in one of my speeches that either he has a mental problem or he has a different agenda’.

The Imam also stated

‘ISIS have no values, they are killing Muslims, children and women, because they believe that Muslims don’t practice Islam in the right manner that they want’

I asked him his views on the newspapers claiming that ISIS recruitment is moving from online to British mosques.

He said that he has heard that, but nothing like that is happening in his mosque, he said that he preaches regularly against ISIS, as he was preaching in the ceremony last Friday at the university with over 1500 people celebrating Eid.


Swansea University Mosque             Picture: Zina Hikary

I asked if he’s aware of religious centers or activities encouraging ISIS , he said that he has a very close relationship with the local authority and he would report them , he mentioned he has regular meetings with the police regarding community cohesion and prevent agenda.

I asked him his view if nothing is done locally, and if it could lead to a civil war , as he stated the concern of calling Isis the Islamic State.

He answered ‘it could lead to violence in the street and its very difficult to control people on the street, this is what exactly happened after 9/11 I was in the States and I witnessed people angry, American people insulting and hitting people in the street and Muslims scared to practice their faith. If there is no serious work and a plan executed in the local community we might face racism, violence and discrimination, which will be very difficult to control. ‘

Due to the current situation he’s worried about discrimination  ‘yes I am worried because the media is pushing hard and influencing people and two things are causing this the media giving people very strong head lines about ISIS which people are stereotyping, the second is the representation of the true Islam in Swansea and the UK. Integration with the community is needed, as encouraging people to be engaged with different faith and showing them the real Islam. ‘


Sheikh Mohsen El-Beltagi Picture:Zina Hikary


We talked about the lack of knowledge in regards to the Middle East, Islam, and the culture, and the awareness needed to distinguish between terrorist and religion.

The Imam stated ‘there are not many sources to gain knowledge. The university of Swansea is opening the door for activities to raise awareness, we have work shops in December, we are organising faith week in February to share information about different faith, we have joint lectures to discuss the similarity of various faith and also there is a proposal with the University of Swansea to open a Middle East institute that will educate and enhance the real understanding and knowledge of the culture. ‘

In regards to raising the awareness, he explained that there are no allocated funds, the Welsh Assembly have confirmed that there is no support financially for any religious activity. He expressed his concerns that especially with the current situation allocated funds, strategies and the right people to execute the plans is needed he also said:

‘the worshipers here are the students who have limited resources, kindly the university is supporting some part but they don’t have an allocated budget for this issue. We are trying to encourage people to be more engaged with the community and to have more work shops with the police as arranging the activities mentioned, faith week and work shops is one of the strategies, the mosque is open 24 hours and there are activities taking place whoever wants to come is welcome.’


Entrance to Swansea University Mosque Picture: Zina Hikary