EAST Lancashire political and community leaders believe the barbarism of the ‘Islamic State’ in Iraq is more likely to repulse than radicalise local young Muslims.
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But Pendle political rivals Andrew Stephenson and Azar Ali fear the message of the extremist group, which this week beheaded US journalist James Foley, could yet bring its brand of terror to the UK.
The Pendle Tory MP and his Labour election opponent’s alarm is not shared by East Lancashire’s Muslim leaders, former top cop Bob Eastwood and Blackburn MP Jack Straw.
Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman Abdul Hamid Qureshi said most young Muslims would be revolted by IS violence but said the situation in Gaza could radicalise some.
Mr Straw, a former home and foreign secretary, said: “I don’t think it will radicalise East Lancashire’s young Muslims. I think it will disgust them. People are humans first and follow their faith second.”
Retired Eastern Division police commander Mr Eastwood said: “There is always a danger that such violent acts could radicalise young people but they have been widely condemned by local Muslim leaders.
“These atrocities are purely criminal and discredit Islam and the many good people who follow that religion as some acts of the IRA did the Roman Catholic faith.”
County Coun Ali, a counter-terrorism adviser to the last government, said: “Islamic State (IS) clearly has tentacles into the British Muslim community to recruit young people to Syria.
“I fear it is only a matter of time before those tentacles reach young East Lancashire Muslims and bring an atrocity like the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby to our streets.
“The government must send British troops to tackle IS.”
Mr Stephenson said: “I think unfortunately there is a real danger that some local young Muslims could become radicalised. This type of barbaric activity can be attractive to certain people.”
Mr Qureshi said: “The beheading and other IS killings are inhuman and unislamic. I don’t think this barbaric violence will radicalise our young people.
“What is happening in Gaza and our government’s double standards are more likely to do that.”
Former LCM chairman and Blackburn councillor Salim Mulla said: “There is always the danger violent acts might radicalise young people but I hope not.
“IS does not speak for Islam. Their message only appeals to those easily duped by their twisted message.
“They seek to glamorise their violence.”
Zaffer Khan, of Blackburn community organisation ‘One Voice’, said: “I don‘t think IS will radicalise young Muslims here but I fear Gaza does not help.”