Philip Lewis, author of 'Young, British and Muslim' and Interfaith Advisor to the Bishop of Bradford, throws his weight behind objectors to the new mosque development project in east London claiming it would create a ghetto and be vulnerable to extremism. At a meeting organised by the Christian Peoples’ Alliance to discuss the mosque development and the local area, Philip Lewis argued against the development claiming that it would promote isolationism and segregation.
"Tablighi Jamaat does not try to engage with wider society so there must be clear worries that such a mosque would lead to a ghetto”, he said.
"The danger is that this becomes a self-contained world, which would be vulnerable to extremists”, he said. His remarks are analogous to those made by the government in 2006 when it proposed to close mosques on suspicion of their fomenting terrorism, suspicions which were known and proven to be unfounded. The government later dropped the proposals.
Dr Lewis, claims that the Jamaat discourages followers from socializing with non-Muslims and that one of their texts, Tablighi Nisab, "could be read as a romanticisation of jihad".
He also raised concerns on the group’s treatment of women, saying that the group is extremely conservative and refuses to allow women to leave the home unless they are accompanied by a male.
Much of this will come as some surprise to those that are familiar with the Tablighi Jamaat’s activities. Women regularly participate in their edifying campaigns lecturing on the benefits of religious adherence. And the argument that the group supports ‘parallel communities’ has been bandied about for some time with little evidence to validate the claim.
Perhaps the greater surprise is the support shown by Lewis for the campaign to obstruct the building of the mosque. Coming within days of the signing of an accord between Muslim and Christian leaders in Bradford, the accord was signed by the Bishop of Bradford and the Jamiat Ulama e Britain. Strange that the Bishop, whom Lewis advises on interfaith matters, should sign an accord in support of guidelines to promote greater interfaith harmony between the two religious communities in the city with a Muslim group that was last year criticized for the same deficiencies Lewis levels at the Tablighi Jamaat.
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