Camp aims to empower with anit-terror message

Updated August 9, 2010 12:38:41

Thirteen hundred British Muslims have converged on Warwick University, north-west of London, for somewhat of an intellectual boot-camp in anti-terrorism.

The three-day conference is being led by Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who issued a religious ruling earlier this year, warning suicide bombers, they're destined for hell. The conference aims to equip young Muslims with the theological tools to tackle extremism in their own communities.

Presenter: Rachael Brown

Speakers: Siddiq Ahmad, 20-year-old from London; Shahid Mursaleen from Minhaj-ul-Quran

RACHAEL BROWN: Journals and workshops have replaced marshmallows and bushwalks at this summer camp with a difference. Thousands of young Muslims sit scribbling the teachings of the Pakistani Islamic scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, who founded the moderate Muslim group, Minhaj-ul-Quran.

Dr Qadri issued a 600-page fatwa in March, condemning extremism with no ifs or buts, and announcing perpetrators as disbelievers.

MUHAMMAD TAHIR-UL-QADRI: ...clear according to Qur'an and Sunna, these kind of people having this terroristic or militant agent that has no link with Islamic teachings...

RACHAEL BROWN: In this promotional video, Dr Qadri encourages young Muslims to attend Al-Hidayah 2010, to learn how recognise and challenge extremism.

MUHAMMAD TAHIR-UL-QADRI: Terrorism is terrorism, it cannot be allowed in any pretext.

RACHAEL BROWN: Some participants from cities across the country spoke of how feeling alone, a long way from home, left them vulnerable to the radical teachings of clerics like Abu Hamza, who's awaiting extradition to the US for preaching hatred.

Others, like 20-year-old Siddiq Ahmad from London wanted help interpreting the Koran.

SIDDIQ AHMAD: The main message so far has been love - a real Muslim doesn't hate anyone, it's love for everyone and we've got to tolerate what happens around us. There's different ways of dealing with situations.

RACHAEL BROWN: Have you found yourself in arguments with these vocal groups and if so have you been frustrated at an inability to counter argue?

SIDDIQ AHMAD: That's exactly why I came to the camp. Many Muslims, especially youngsters, they look up to these type of people because - I know, if, it shouldn't be like that, you know. The religion is not from the appearance it's from the inside, it's from the heart and the brain.

But a lot of people don't understand that and they look at these people with big bills or you know, nice clothes and they think yes this is like you know the people that we should be listening to.

And then when they say things that are from the Quran then people, you know, they're vulnerable, they don't really - they're not going to go home and research on it they're just, you know, whatever they've been told on the street then that's what they're going to believe.

RACHAEL BROWN: Shahid Mursaleen from the group Minhaj-ul-Quran says while Islamic extremists make up only a tiny portion of the 1.7 million Muslims in Britain, these groups are very vocal.

SHAHID MURSALEEN: This event is a blow to them because we will prepare 1300 people, who will go back to them and who will be basically countering their arguments based on Islamic tradition, based on Islamic teaching.

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