London, Feb.25 (ANI): Elderly foreign imams, who dominate functions at mosques across Britain, are leaving young Muslims at the mercy of extremists, a study has found.
According to the Quilliam Foundation, an Islamic think tank, 97 per cent of imams in Britain's mosques are from overseas, although the majority of Muslims in Britain were born in the UK.
"By failing to reach out to young British Muslims, radical Islamists have the upper-hand. Britain's young Muslims, without a voice in mosques, are looking elsewhere for religious guidance and will continue to be drawn in by young, articulate extremists who offer an alternative narrative, cause and social space," The Telegraph quotes the foundation's study, as saying.
Quilliam's director, Maajid Nawaz said: "These findings are deeply disturbing. Our first line of defence against terrorism is the ability, commitment, and confidence of mosques and Muslim communities to root out extremism. Currently, we are failing.
The study also found that forty-four per cent of mosques do not hold their sermons at the main Friday prayers in English.
Nearly half of Britain's mosques do not have facilities for women, "depriving half the community of access to public spaces," the study said.
It added: "Foreign imams, poorly paid and with limited proficiency in English, are ill-equipped to navigate Britain's complex, liberal and multi-faith society.
"They have neither the freedom, being at the mercy of mosque management committees dominated by first generation elders, nor the capacity to promote a British Islam informed by British values.
"With foreign imams who are physically in Britain, but psychologically in Pakistan or Bangladesh, mosques lack the requisite resilience to challenge Islamist extremists. We cannot continue to ignore the malaise in our mosques."
The report's author, Anya Hart Dyke, a senior research fellow at Quilliam, said mosques needed to include women and young people in running mosques, make use of government support from funds aimed at preventing violent extremism.
Quilliam attempted to contact over 1,000 mosques by using researchers who spoke Urdu or Bengali during Ramadan in late 2008, a busy period in mosques.(ANI)