West Suffolk: Muslim leader who worked in Woolwich condemns horrific attack

A floral tribute close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich.

A floral tribute close to the scene where a man was murdered in John Wilson Street, Woolwich. - Credit: PA

A leader of a west Suffolk mosque has condemned the brutal attack in London and called for calm in society.

Mohammed Ahsan, committee chairman of Newmarket-based Jumu’ah Salaah, who used to work close to the barracks in Woolwich, also described how the area was beset by tensions caused by poverty.

Speaking today Mr Ahsan said: “First of all, it is a horrendous crime and there is no justification for it, either religiously or morally. It is just a horrendous thing to do.

“There is not a combat situation, so you can’t in Islam, just go ahead and murder anyone in society, otherwise you will end up with anarchy in society. Anyone who commits such a crime should be punished accordingly.”

He added: “How do you build a civilised society with acts of violence? It is just individuals gone bonkers. The horror really is that you have got a few individuals and the whole society is painted and that’s the worst of it. We are all shell shocked.”

There have been two arrests following incidents at Muslim prayer sites in the aftermath of the Woolwich bloodshed, including one in Braintree.

Mr Ahsan said he feared there could be further reactions, even in west Suffolk.

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He added: “We do have a few people who aren’t perhaps as lovely as they should be, but on the whole, we have lots of fantastic people in Newmarket. It is very multicultural now. Newmarket is a changed place and although there is likely to be one or two incidents, I’m not expecting something completely untoward.”

The committee chairman said he had been head of guidance and counselling in Woolwich about 20 years ago and said he believed poverty created more tension than the issues of Afghanistan and Iraq.

He added: There was a lot of tension, but it wasn’t so much a Muslim and the other community, there was poverty full stop. It was a very deprived area there were no jobs and there was huge poverty. So, you could see that there was quite a disparity between people. It was horrible in that perspective.”

Mr Ahsan said it was important that people were calmed and that the incident should not be allowed to damage society.

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