Just days after nine close relatives of a Rochdale Labour councillor were arrested in Turkey attempted to make ‘hijrah’, the holy journey to join and fight for the Islamic Caliphate, a local Imam has warned the “tentacles” of the Islamic State are taking hold in the town.
Imam Irfan Chishti, one of those accredited under the Government’s counter-terrorism ‘Prevent’ programme made the extraordinary statement, expressing his concern that Islamist propaganda was having an effect on local youth and was proselyting them for the Islamic State. The Guardian reports his comments, in which he blames the internet for the speed of radicalisation, made before worship on Friday.
Chishti said: “No one is immune to it. The tentacles of Isis really are spreading so quickly, not just into homes but into palms, via the internet on phones. We have got smartphones that are making us dumb. Isis is not in any way Islamic and we need to push back harder to say it’s not. We have to be pushing this message shrewdly to counter Isis’s narrative”.
The claim of the influence of the Islamic State in the town has come amid a series of controversies regarding the proclivities of the local Islamic community. The controversy surrounding the conviction of child abuse, rape, and trafficking of a group of Rochdale men was spectacularly re-ignited last week after Simon Danczuk, who is presently seeking re-election as member of parliament for the town went to lengths to show his friendship with the local Pakistani population.
Posting a picture of himself posing with the Pakistani flag being flown outside Rochdale town hall for Pakistan day to Twitter, a row about the wisdom of keeping such company immediately broke out with popular Twitter troll Katie Hopkins. As Breitbart London reported, her response was unforgiving.
@SimonDanczuk Your Pakistani friends saw young white girls as fair game when they abused them. Do NOT lecture me on community cohesion fool
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) March 23, 2015
Rochdale was again in the news this week after revelations that a family group of nine had travelled from the town to Syria, and those going were the sister in law, son, and seven nieces and nephews of a local councillor. Insisting his son was a “good Muslim” and was certainly taking his infant relatives to help him perform aid work for the displaced of Syria, Councilman Shakil Ahmed said he was “shocked, worried and extremely upset” to learn of his family being apprehended at the Turkish border with Syria.