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Scrutiny on sermons at Eid services

Published 17/07/2015

Ahamad Ragab Eid, left, an imam from Egypt, practices his recital of the Koran with Omar Abdul Quayum at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, London
Ahamad Ragab Eid, left, an imam from Egypt, practices his recital of the Koran with Omar Abdul Quayum at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel, London
Muslims are marking the end of Ramadan today

Today's Eid celebrations will take on an added poignancy if sermons across the UK pause to remember the Tunisia terror attacks.

Gunman Seifeddine Rezgui murdered 38 holidaymakers, including 30 UK nationals, in the north African country's resort of Sousse on June 26.

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for attack, prompting the Foreign Office to repatriate up to 3,000 Britons over fears that further atrocities were to follow.

Shaukat Warraich, chief executive of community-based organisation Faith Associates , said Muslims marking the end of Ramadan today would likely be asked to think about international events at a time when Muslim extremists are carrying out their attacks apparently in the name of Islam.

He said: "On the day of Eid there will be sermons and I would be very surprised if Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Tunisia were not remembered in some way.

"People celebrating are very lucky to be able to come to mosques in the UK where they have the freedom to worship as they wish. They are aware not everyone has that same freedom.

"There are plenty of Muslims around the world who are not as fortunate."

Much has been made of the ability of extremists to target impressionable young new recruits to wage jihad on the West, prompting police and community leaders to make direct appeals to families of British would-be terrorists in order to stem the flow of fighters fleeing for Syria.

Earlier this year Muslim leaders launched a digital magazine in the fight for online space against extremist groups like Islamic State.

Imams from the UK and Europe gathered at a London summit to launch Haqiqah, which translates as The Reality, a magazine aimed at offering a counter-narrative to the radical rhetoric of IS and other groups.

The digital magazine, developed by imams and scholars, is easily shared across social media and includes sections providing ''correct'' context to specific verses of the Koran, which are regularly twisted in extremist material.

Mr Warraich, also chief editor of, an organisation providing a voice for Islamic religious leaders, said religious leaders had to reach out to worshippers vulnerable to extremist groups.

He said: " The tools Islamic State are using are so sophisticated that imams need to get into social media space a lot more.

"Imams use the pulpit, the sermons and face-to-face contact to interact with fellow Muslims, but there will always be ten or so people who are not in the mosque who they cannot connect to through more traditional methods.

"The imams haven't all entered the social media space, and there is potential for the alternative - Islamic State - to do so."

Eid will take place across the world today, when Muslims who participated in the 29 days of fasting, celebrate with friends and loved ones.

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