SCOTLAND’S most senior counter-terrorism detectives have approached leading Glasgow Muslims after an imam praised the murder of a Pakistani politician who promoted Christian rights.

Law enforcement figures were understood to be hearing concerns about ultra-orthodox views and international connections among some worshippers at the country’s largest mosque.

The talks came after The Herald and BBC revealed that the main spiritual leader at Glasgow Central Mosque, Habib ur Rehman, had described extremist killer Mumtaz Qadri as a “true Muslim”.

But they also follow revelations that the charity regulator held concerns about the governance of Glasgow Central Mosque, which is engulfed in a brutal civil war between liberal reformers and conservatives.

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The discussions involved Assistant Chief Constable Ruaraidh Nicolson and Detective Chief Superintendent Gerry McLean, the head of Police Scotland’s counter-terrorism unit.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow Mosque

Asked about Mr Rehman’s remarks, a force spokesman said: “We are aware of an allegation, which is currently being assessed.” 

The Herald's view: Mosque must reflect Scottish Muslim community

Officers from Police Scotland’s Safer Communities unit visited the mosque ahead of Friday prayers, when Mr Rehman did not apologise for his remarks, which he has claimed were taken out of context.

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Activist and lawyer Aamer Anwar said Mr Rehman’s comment about Qadri, who was executed for the murder of a liberal politician who raised concerns about the persecution of Christians using Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, was “grotesque”.

He added: “There can be no moral or religious justification for remarks which glorify murder.”

Mr Anwar has been accused of trying to shut down the mosque and suffered online and personal abuse yesterday. 

Mr Rehman was also abused on social media with calls for him to be “hanged”. 

The imam, as the Herald reported yesterday, insists that he was condemning the execution of Qadri, not supporting the actions of the killer.

Writing to a small private group on the messaging service Whatsapp, Mr Rehman said: “A true Muslim was punished for doing [that] which the collective will of the nation failed to carry out.” 

Imams from at least four mosques met last night to discuss the crisis.

A lecture on anti-terror laws that Mr Anwar was due to host was cancelled.

Concerns about hardliners at Glasgow Central Mosque have been growing since the beginning of the year when it emerged some of its money had been received by ultra-orthodox group Tablighi Jamaat. 

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The mosque has traditionally been seen as a bastion of inclusiveness.
Former First Minister Jack McConnell, pictured above, tweeted his concern at Mr Rehman’s remarks.

He said: “The mosque has been a positive force in Scotland. This is shocking. I hope he is alone in these views.” 

Chief Superintendent Paul Main of Police Scotland said: “Glasgow Central Mosque and the Muslim community in Scotland have, over a long number of years, been part of and added to Scottish culture.

"Myself, my team and local officers have had several contacts and meetings with officials at Glasgow Central Mosque in recent days.

"Police Scotland hope to assist in any way we can, to support the community through a difficult time of local and international events, join them in condemning acts of violence and minimise any risk of hate crimes or incidents taking place.”