Published in Halifax Courier 15 Oct 2011
A group of volunteers are fighting terrorists trying to recruit in Halifax.
The town’s branch of Minhaj-ul-Quran International say they have seen Islamic extremists outside local mosques, trying to get youngsters involved as recently as last year.
But the branch’s organisers believe their work with young men, which started around a year ago, has helped keep the terrorists away.
One of their aims is to educate people about Islam so they do not get brainwashed by extremists.
“They say this is what Islam is telling you to do,” said one of the organisers of the branch, Osman Riaz.
“That’s how they get people into it.
“A lot of people who get involved in extremism don’t know anything about their religion. They get brainwashed. They get taught a few phrases here and there and start repeating them.”
He said the extremists outside the mosques in Halifax were handing out literature condoning violence.
“That’s not Islam,” he said.
In 2007, two men from Halifax with extreme Islamic beliefs were convicted under the Terrorism Act.
Rizwan Ditta, of Royd Terrace, and Bilal Mohammed, of Thurm Hall Close, were arrested in dawn raids by anti-terrorist offices from the Metropolitan Police supported by officers from West Yorkshire.
Osman, a 24-year-old law student, and the other organisers hold weekly groups for young men.
There are also Minhaj-ul-Quran International groups for women and adults.
Osman said he got involved because he was confused about religion.
The group offers support to young men and advice for anyone in trouble. It has helped teenagers with several issues, including drugs.
The branch regularly has stands at community events and recently organised for hundreds of people from Halifax to travel to London for a huge peace conference organised for World Peace Day. They also have their own magazine.