A call has been made to withdraw any prospect of funding to the Belfast Islamic Centre following remarks from one of its senior members about ISIS.
David McNarry MLA has asked on the First and Deputy First Ministers to reconsider the idea of extending any grants linked to the centre following the appearance of Dr Raied Al-Wazzan on BBC Talkback, during which he had spoken favourably of the conditions created by the Islamic extremist group in his home city of Mosul.
Dr al-Wazzan had said: “Since the Islamic State took over, it has become the most peaceful city in the world. Yes there are other things going wrong there... they are murdering people, I agree, but you can go from east to west of the city without fear.”
ISIS has made a name for itself by gravely persecuting minorities and savagely punishing those with whom it disagrees, including murdering journalists.
David McNarry from UKIP recalled that during last summer it had been suggested by the first minister that some kind of financial support could be made available to the Islamic Centre in Belfast.
Dubbing Dr al-Wazzan’s remarks “inflammatory” he said: “I couldn’t believe that at a time when the free world has been rocked by Islamic extremists murdering innocent people in cold blood and mounting a sustained attack on the free press that the leader of Northern Ireland’s Muslims chose to praise ISIS Islamic rule...
“My question to OFMdFM has been tabled because I do not think or do I believe any reasonable or right thinking person believes Dr Al-Wazzan’s organisation should be rewarded by public money.”
The Belfast Islamic Centre has been aiming to move to new premises and back in June the DUP leader had said that while Stormont does not fund the building of places of worship, funds are available for community work – particularly cross-community work.
Shortly afterwards, the DUP said: “There has never been funding directed by OFMDFM towards any places of worship and there has been no request for such funding from the Belfast Islamic Centre.”
Mr McNarry has formally tabled a question to the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister calling on it to say if it reconsidering any funding packages for the centre.
In his BBC interview Dr al-Wazzan had spoken favourably of the stability provided by the ISIS regime in Mosul, and said ”these people are less evil than the Iraqi government.”
He blamed Western governments for creating the conditions for ISIS by “establishing a failed state in Iraq, run by militias”.