Manchester attack has 'no place in religion' city's Islamic centre says

A statement is read outside the mosque. Credit: ITV News

The Islamic centre where the Manchester suicide bomber is thought to have prayed has said the attack "has no place in Islam or any religion".

Fawzi Haffar read a statement on behalf of Manchester Islamic Centre, also known as Didsbury Mosque, in which he said the centre's "thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, their friends, and our diverse communities across Greater Manchester".

He continued that the centre was "proud" to be part of the "great city of Manchester".

Before the statement was read out, a minute's silence was held in memory of the 22 people killed Salman Abedi's attack.

Mr Haffar condemned the "atrocious" attack as an "act of cowardice" which "has no place in our religion or any other religion".

He continued: "The horrific atrocity that occurred in Manchester on Monday night has shocked us all.

"We encourage anyone, and I repeat we encourage anyone, who may have information about the individual involved to contact the police without any delay."

Mr Haffar told how the doors of the Islamic Centre are "open to all" and is part of the community of Didsbury, welcoming "thousands of attendees every week".

He added that the centre it served people from "all backgrounds and faiths, from our food and clothes banks, to all our inter-faith dialogues".

Mr Haffar denied reports that Abedi had worked at the centre, and expressed "concern" that such stories had been "manufactured without any verification or context, or corroboration".

He also urged people suffering hate crimes directed at Muslims in the wake of the attack to report them to the police.

Mr Haffar also thanked the emergency services, as well as the ordinary people and businesses, who provided help and support in the aftermath of the attack.

Mr Haffar finished his speech by saying: "Manchester is a great city, with a great history and a prosperous and bright future ahead of it.

"The Manchester Islamic Centre is proud to be part of this great city of Manchester."

The centre did not respond to questions asking whether Salman Abedi or his family had prayed at the mosque.