A British Muslim leader who threatened legal action against this newspaper after the editor branded him a “non-violent extremist” has pledged to be “more careful with my words to ensure my support for the occupied Palestinian people cannot be misconstrued”.
Ajmal Masroor, who makes regular media appearances and leads prayer services at mosques across London, instructed lawyers in response to a 2015 column by Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer, headlined: ‘Where are the mainstream Muslim voices?’
Ferrer’s piece addressed then prime minister David Cameron’s call to tackle “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people and overpower mainstream Muslim opinion”.
He wrote: “The danger [of radicalisation] does not come from mad mullahs. Rather, consider a popular mainstream imam like Ajmal Masroor… who preaches that Zionism “stands for racism and Jewish supremacist ideology”… warns of “abusers” in the UK “Jewish lobby” and the “Jewish supremacist ideology” that “holds our government hostage”.
Accepting Jewish News’ open invitation of a right of reply, the imam writes in this week’s issue (read here): “Following Brexit, Trump, the rise of Islamophobia and indeed the continuing rise in anti-Semitism, I felt I should take you up on your offer of a right to reply, as if there were ever a time that we need to understand each other’s perspective it is now.”
He adds: “You selectively quoted a Friday sermon I gave following the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014. I do hold my hands up and on reflection I can see that some of my words… could be misinterpreted.”
Ajmal Masroor column can be read here: The conflict over there must not divide us here