Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Muslim leader sorry for Isis remark about Mosul

By Amanda Ferguson

One of Northern Ireland's most prominent Muslim leaders has apologised for saying an Iraqi city seized by Islamic State (IS) is "the most peaceful city in the world".

Dr Raied Al-Wazzan of the Belfast Islamic Centre has said he is sorry for any offence he caused following his comments about Mosul last week.

Dr Al-Wazzan said relatives living there had told him life was better since the city was taken ov er by Islamic extremists.

"These people are less evil than the Iraqi government," he said at the time.

Among those to criticise him was now retired Belfast pastor James McConnell, who last year himself apologised for calling Islam heathen and Satanic.

Dr Al-Wazzan said yesterday he was sorry for what he had said.

"I do apologise to all people who felt offended by my comments," he said.

"The right words didn't come to me." He said he had used the word 'evil' when describing Islamic State.

"So that doesn't give any indication that I support them or praise them," he said.

"We need to condemn violence, whatever side it's come from.

"That's what I wanted to say. But unfortunately it didn't come out very clear."

Pastor McConnell said: "He let himself go on Friday and he's sorry that he let himself go."

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