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  1. ITV Report

Police investigate 'armed jihad call' at Didsbury Mosque

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The contents of a sermon delivered by an Imam at Didsbury mosque will be reviewed by police ‘to establish if any criminal offences have been committed’.

In the report, the Imam, Mustafa Graf, from Chorlton, references ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’

The mosque claim the cleric’s comments have been taken out of context.

It's claimed Mustafa Graf delivered the sermon during Friday prayers at Didsbury Mosque on Burton Road, West Didsbury, on December 16, 2016, six months before the Manchester Arena bombing.

It's reported the recording included a call for 'armed jihad.

We ask Allah to grant them mujahideen - our brothers and sisters right now in Aleppo and Syria and Iraq - to grant them victory.

Jihad for the sake of Allah is the source of pride and dignity for this nation.

– Reportedly quoted by Muslim cleric

The mosque’s trustees said he was highlighting the plight of Syrians after chemical bombings in the country and his use of the words ‘jihad’ and ‘mujahideen’ had been misinterpreted.

The family of Arena bomber Salman Abedi are known to have worshipped at the mosque, which is also known as the Manchester Islamic Centre.

The mosque said suicide bomber Abedi was last known to have visited the mosque during Eid ‘seven or eight years ago’ - and said records showed he wasn’t present when Mr Graf delivered the sermon.

The spokesman said:

Didsbury Mosque is an inclusive and diverse centre, which is open to all people from different backgrounds. Our Friday sermons are public.

Today the BBC released what we believe to be a misleading report, out of context which appears to create an association between the criminal act of Salman Abedi and a dated sermon at the mosque.

Such sensationalist reporting is not helpful to the Muslim community or the wider community, and only further damages good community relations.

Didsbury Mosque does not encourage anyone to go and fight in any military struggle. We refute strongly any suggestion that there is a link or association between our preaching and the criminal actions of Salman Abedi, or his radicalisation. Nor have we been made aware that his grievance was related to Syria.

However, as part of our regulatory management duties, we have launched an investigation into the sermon to identify any issues raised by the BBC report.

– Didsbury Mosque spokesperson

In a statement in response, GMP said:

We have been handed the material from the BBC following their broadcast and will now review it to establish if any criminal offences have been committed.

– GMP

Responding to the audio recordings Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said:

The Mayor and I are clear: we will always act on any evidence of the incitement of hate and violence whenever it happens and from wherever it comes.

And, as we made clear in our response to the Commission on Tackling Violent Extremism, we expect all communities in Greater Manchester to do the same.

Clearly these serious allegations are very concerning for us all.

– Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes