South East Wales

Anti-terror police halt Muslim meeting at Canton Community Hall, Cardiff

Canton Community Hall, Cardiff
Image caption Officers were called to the meeting at Canton Community Hall in Cardiff

Anti-terrorist police have halted a meeting at a Cardiff community centre over fears of a link to banned Islamist group Muslims Against Crusades.

Welsh Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit officers were called to Canton Community Hall on Thursday night.

South Wales Police said it followed concerns raised by members of the local Muslim community.

One man was arrested for assault and a public order offence and remains in police custody.

South Wales Police assistant chief constable Matt Jukes said: "Last night's activity forms part of a wider strategy to prevent radicalisation within our communities and to stop vulnerable people from being drawn into extremism or becoming prey to terrorist ideologies.

Anti-terror laws

"While there is a need for a careful balance in protecting freedom of speech, promoting or glorifying terrorism is unlawful and groups such as Muslims Against Crusades have no place in South Wales.

"Our actions, and that of our partners, represent a proportionate response to this issue."

Police said the decision to attend the venue in Leckwith Road was taken after a series of complaints had been raised about the activities of the group, Muslims Against Crusades.

It was made a proscribed organisation in November last year by the home secretary, under anti-terror legislation aimed at stopping activities that could promote or glorify terrorism.

Being a member of the group or promoting its activities is a criminal offence.

Council ban

The operation was supported by Cardiff council, which owns the community centre.

Council chief executive Jon House said: "A number of concerns had been raised with Cardiff council by the city's Muslim communities that individuals who might belong to an organisation which has been proscribed under the Terrorism Act 2000 Muslims Against Crusades could be using council venues to hold meetings and potentially radicalise vulnerable members of our society.

"Due to these concerns and working closely with South Wales Police we have advised these individuals that they can no longer be allowed to hold meetings on council premises."

South Wales Police's superintendent for the Cardiff area, Alun Maxwell Thomas added: "It is important to stress that it is Cardiff's Muslim communities who have expressed concerns about the activities of Muslims Against Crusades in the city.

"Yesterday's action seeks to positively address these concerns."

'Attention seekers'

Riverside councillor Mohammed Islam was highly critical of what he described as a "handful of youths" responsible.

"I believe that probably they are trying to create some tension in our peaceful community," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"There are just attention seekers.

"We have no space for these people in our communities. They are just giving a bad name to the Muslim community of Wales."

Mr Islam said local mosques had already banned individuals from handing out radical leaflets, and he welcomed the police action on Thursday evening.

"They acted quickly enough and removed these people from the area, I am really grateful," he said.

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