Statement regarding Panorama Programme
The Leeds Grand Mosque believes that the quotes that were stated by the
presenter John Ware in the Panorama programme aired on 21st August 2005 were
deliberately taken out of context and portrayed in a way that serves his own
agenda by deriving his own conclusions. Contrary to what the programme tried to
convey, one of the aims of the mosque is raising awareness about Islam in a
correct and suitable manner to the society we live in. The mosque encourages
positive integration in society and promotes the message of peace and
interaction through its various activities such as the annual school exhibition
which has been attended over the past years by thousands of school children and
teachers. Leeds Grand Mosque hosted different interfaith events that were
attended by many including the Mayor of Leeds, councillors, MP’s, officers from
different local authorities, leaders from other faiths in West Yorkshire.
The mosque believes it has a role to play in all aspects of life and one of the
important aspects is the political sphere, where the mosque plays an active part
in calling upon Muslims to use their faith to guide them in their social and
political dealings, and this is something the mosque is not ashamed to declare.
On the contrary we believe that the mosque has been a key player in raising
awareness amongst the Muslim community, advising them to use their votes
correctly and to channel their feelings and emotions in a way that brings about
positivity and productivity and thereby eliminating feelings of isolation and
Being a complete way of life, Islam teaches its followers to be involved in all
aspects of society. Promoting the separation of religion and politics opens
doors to some individuals to respond to their frustration in an uncivilised
manner, thus leading to an increase of violence and hostility within society.
This would not serve our community positively in any shape or form but serve the
agenda of those who gain from the disengagement of the Muslim community in
Leeds Grand Mosque is not the only mosque that interacts positively within the
political sphere outside its walls, and it does not hesitate to express its
political views according to Islam whenever the situation requires so. Mosques
in Leeds regard the role that Leeds Grand Mosque plays as a leading one in
expressing the ideal role of a mosque in society.
It is surprising that although Leeds Grand Mosque allowed Panorama to take shots
from outside the mosque and agreed to be interviewed, John Ware disregarded this
opportunity to allow the management committee a chance to respond to the claims
he put in his programme without giving reasonable clarification for not going
ahead with the interview. The interview would have clarified matters but
obviously that wouldn’t have served John Ware's aims and agenda.
We believe that John Ware could have been more credible had he mentioned any of
the tens of sermons that call to positive integration in society, carrying the
principles of Islam in living peacefully alongside others, obeying laws of our
country and promoting the Islamic duty of good citizenship. The message of the
Leeds Grand Mosque towards non-Muslims was clearly set out as early as 2nd April
2005 in the Imam's reminder entitled "Message for Muslims living on non-Muslim
lands" in which he said: "when you choose to live in a land other than the lands
of the Muslims, you choose at the same time to be a part of the society that you
live in. It is appropriate that your emotions and reactions are governed by
wisdom and intellect, and that they emanate from... fulfilling obligations and
forbidding treachery and animosity. You are part of the society that you live
in, and its problems and affairs are your concern, and you bring to it what is
beneficial to the best of your ability..." (taken from:
Following the events of 7th July, the mosque was equally clear in another
reminder entitled "In the shade of the events of 7/7". The mosque has published
its reminders for them to be read in their context and thus it would have been
more appropriate for John Ware, if he truly was after correct facts, to
interview Sheikh Taher himself and ask him about his quotes.
The Imam of Leeds Grand Mosque and its Religious affairs Consultant are well
known in the city of Leeds and in Europe for their clear message of integration
and citizenship in non-Muslim countries as is taught by Islam.
Another attempt by the presenter to meet his aims by distorting facts was to
indicate that one of the attackers of the London tragedy - Jamal Lindsay - was a
regular attendee of Leeds Grand Mosque, while it was made clear to Panorama that
Jamal was not a local in Leeds and that he only attended Leeds Grand Mosque for
days during October last year.
Leeds Grand Mosque is greatly appalled by such a programme that stirs certain
negative feelings compromising positive community relationships and call upon
all to challenge such irresponsible destructive productions.
Leeds Grand Mosque (LGM) urges everyone to call the BBC now to complain about
this biased and Islamophobic edition of Panorama:
Leeds Grand Mosque
23rd August 2005