A visit to a mosque in Walsall may have persuaded the former leader of the English Defence League to quit the far-right group, a Muslim leader today claimed.
Tommy Robinson, who founded the EDL four years ago, met Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain Ibrahim Mogra and Muslim commentator Mohammed Ansar at the Aisha Mosque and Islamic Centre in Walsall as part of filming for a documentary about Islamophobia.
The 30-year-old dramatically stepped down from the EDL citing ‘dangers of far-right extremism’, just weeks after visiting the mosque.
Zia Ul-Haq, a senior member of the Rutter Street mosque, said: “As part of a documentary a meeting between Tommy Robinson and an Imam was set up and we helped facilitate it.
“We were a bit nervous about it because of what he has said but he was no problem and respectful.
“Personally, we did not enter much dialogue with him apart from a bit of chit-chat around the mosque but he seemed impressed by what he saw and was pretty receptive.
“He had a conversation with Ibrahim Mogra about interpretation of Muslim teachings and the Imam explained why some of Mr Robinson’s views on Islam were not in line with our reading.
“He genuinely seemed to take everything that was said on board. I think it is quite possible that after engaging with Muslims he has changed his opinion.
“It is really positive to see him change his stance and we are encouraged by what he said last week but it is still early days.
“It goes to show that engagement and integration in communities is vital and we are always willing to answer questions or have people around to explain about who we are, what we believe and what we do. We are very open.”
The EDL has been involved in a number of violent clashes during marches across the West Midlands.
The visit to Aisha Mosque around eight weeks ago was Mr Robinson’s first to an Islamic place of worship.