Muslim scholars must do more to combat the violent ideology of Islamic State, Britain’s top police officer has said.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the retiring head of London’s Metropolitan Police, warned of the growing threat of extremists returning from Syria, describing them as “brutalised and militarised”.
Sir Bernard told the London Evening Standard that Islamic State was using religion to lure young people into fighting for them, and that Muslim scholars need to present a different interpretation of Islam.
“The hardest part for the western world is to interrupt this philosophy that Daesh [Islamic State] is perpetuating, which is that Islam in any way supports this horrific use of violence.
“There is no interpretation I would argue that could say that, but some people are getting away with that.
“Muslim scholars have got to come up and be really challenging of that and be very clear that this can never be acceptable. There is no interpretation that can ever conclude it’s OK to kill people. We can’t be at all sensitive to religious beliefs. We have all got to say that is wrong.”
Sir Bernard added a “small army” of extremists had travelled to Iraq and Syria to fight with Islamic State, including around 850 from Britain, and they were now coming home as the terror group neared defeat.
“We are now seeing Daesh’s sphere of influence being reduced in Syria and Iraq and it looks as though it’s clear that they will lose and the other side will win. Some of those people are going to come home and that’s the threat that’s hanging there,” he said.
“The ones who return in reasonable numbers will put more pressure on us and will go to the top of the priority list in terms of looking at, because they will be brutalised, militarised, have friends and a level of organisation that we don’t experience today.
“They are the ones that we most have to worry about and it’s hard to predict when.”
However, he said no new legal powers were needed against these people as he was “pretty confident” they would be identified as they re-entered the UK.
Breitbart London reported earlier this week on how one former Muslim had called on the Metropolitan Police to do more to protect people who leave the faith.
Faisal Bashir said that after he stopped attending mosques in East London, local Muslims began terrorising his family.
“These people knew I had become an atheist and soon enough my whole family was being harassed.”
“I was called an apostate, a non-believer, I was told I had betrayed my God and my faith,” he added. “Sometimes they would even say things to my children – they are far too little to know what was happening, they were very frightened.”