Bangalore, July 9 (IANS) The Tablighi Jamaat, the radical Muslim revivalist movement that British terror-plot suspects Kafeel and Sabeel Ahmed are said to have joined, is quite active in Karnataka but does not preach jihad, a senior leader of Jamaat-e-Islami asserted.
"No, they (Tablighi Jamaat) don't preach Jihad (holy war) and their stress is more on methods and confined to spreading it among the Muslims," Atharulla Sharif, Jamaat-e-Islami Karnataka vice-president, told IANS in an interview.
He said he was not aware if Kafeel Ahmed, a mechanical engineer, and his younger brother Sabeel Ahmed, a doctor, were connected with Tablighi Jamaat's activities.
The Jamaat-e-Islami leader said he believes that if at all Kafeel and Sabeel were involved in the British terror plot, then "the developments (the two becoming radicals) must have taken place in the United Kingdom and not here. How the turn took place, nobody knows".
Sharif said he disapproved of violent methods of protest. "Killing innocent people is not the right path," he said.
While he could not give any estimate of the number of Tablighi followers in Bangalore, Sharif said: "They are pretty active and are achieving good success rate (in convincing Muslims to their way of thinking)."
Bangalore police also say they do not have any clear information on the number of Tablighi followers in Karnataka.
Sharif said while he knew the parents of Kafeel and Sabeel well, he was not well acquainted with the two young men. Dr Maqbool Ahmed, father of the two men, is an active member of Jamaat-e-Islami, he added.
Asked whether he had met the family and what they had told him about the suspected involvement of the two in failed terror attacks in Britain, Sharif said: "Yes. I went to their residence (in Banashankari in Bangalore) after the news broke out and consoled the parents."
"The family (Maqbool Ahmed, his wife Dr Zakhia Ahmed and daughter Sadia Kauser) are naturally shocked at the reports and cannot believe that the two would indulge in such acts," he said.
"I have advised the family not to hide anything from the police," Sharif said.
On whether he suspects Kafeel and Sabeel might have been influenced by their association with Tablighi, he said: "Personally I have had no contact with the children."
He added that the involvement of the two in the terror plots has not been conclusively proved and investigations were still on.
"Of course, if their involvement is proved, the children will face the natural course of law," Sharif said, adding that parents cannot be blamed for their acts.
Sharif said the reports of involvement of Kafeel and Sabeel and the public reaction would not lead to any siege mentality among Muslims in Karnataka.
"No, it will not," he asserted, adding, however, that "fear exists among the educated sections of the community because of the alleged involvement of highly qualified persons in such activities".
"The common man in the community does not consider it an event at all," Sharif said.
On whether the image of Bangalore as a city of peace-loving people would be affected abroad, he said, "naturally, there will be some effect".
"The way the event is being projected, it may have some negative effect," Sharif said.
The development may also affect students and professionals wanting to go abroad, he said. "It is a case of once bitten, twice shy." There will be restrictions and more checks, he added.
On the differences between Jamaat and Tablighi, Sharif said the Tablighis lay more stress on physical appearance, five times prayers and the like. "Our differences with them are both ideological and methodology."
"We do not believe that Islam is confined to a particular method of worship and physical appearance. Islam for us is a complete system of life and a true Muslim has to follow Islamic teachings in whatever field one is," Sharif said.
Kafeel is believed to be the man who drove a jeep laden with gasoline into Glasgow airport on June 30 and is now battling for life in a hospital there with 90 percent burns.
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