Muslims plan to train British-born clerics to lead prayers in English

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A drive to encourage British men to become Islamic clerics and to teach English to imams is planned by Muslim leaders.

Mosques will be asked to clear out many of their elderly foreign-born clerics and ensure sermons are translated into English. About 85 per cent of the estimated 2,000 imams in Britain were educated and trained abroad.

The plan for an overhaul of the estimated 1,200 to 1,400 British mosques was agreed as part of a campaign to reach out to young Muslims isolated from mainstream society. It was among proposals from several working parties appointed by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, after the July 7 bombings.

Mr Clarke signalled his support for the moves and also hinted that a public inquiry could eventually be held into the causes of the attacks of 7 and 21 July.

Lord Ahmed, convenor of the mosque and imams working party, announcing the creation of a National Advisory Council of Imams and Mosques, said: "One of the roles it will have is to train young, suitable candidates who will become our home-grown imams.

"For the first time we've had a debate in the Muslim community and ... with the imams. They know we can't continue to deliver sermons in Arabic and you can't exclude youths and women from mosque committees."