A WORLD-renowned Islamic preacher is visiting three East Lancashire towns in a bid to “challenge extremist agendas”.

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani visited a spiritual centre in Pringle Street, Blackburn yesterday as part of a whistle-stop 10-day tour of England which also includes a trip to Burnley and Nelson on Friday.

Shaykh Hisham, who has advised two previous United States’ governments on issues regarding Islam, religious tolerance and terrorism, said there was a “real issue of young people being influenced by extremists” in this area.

And he said East Lancashire was vulnerable to extremists looking to infiltrate mosques.

Hundreds of people turned out to the event on Sunday at the Naqshbandiyya Mujaddidiyya Aslamiyya mosque.

He said he chose East Lancashire as part of his tour because of its high level of ethnic diversity and worries over extremism.

Speaking to the Lancashire Telegraph today, Shaykh Hisham, who is based in the USA but was born in Beruit, said preaching moderation was important because there was a “real concern” that extremists were targeting mosques.

He said: “There are too many violent ideas and anti-Western thoughts being spread to young people in communities in Lancashire.

“There is a radical minority but they must be shunned and ignored.

"The real Islam isn’t bombing and terror but we must discuss the problems so we can avoid them.”

Coun Salim Mulla, from the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “The visit was very positive for the community.”

Mr Hisham is the founder of the Sufi Muslim Council, a moderate organisation which aims to stand up to extremism.

He has addressed numerous world bodies such as the United Nations and has met with heads of state, including former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton.

The tour will see Shaykh Hisham visit mosques in Peckham in south London, Ilford in Essex, Rochdale, Sheffield, Manchester, Bury and Birmingham as well as East Lancashire.

On Friday he will be at the new Burnley Ghauthia Masjid mosque in Abel Street from noon and at 7pm the Ghauthia Masjid mosque in Every Street, Nelson.