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’
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.’
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.
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.