Muslims Fear Police Have ‘Shoot To Kill’ Policy After Bomb Attacks

LONDON (AFP) – British Muslims said they feared police were operating under a “shoot to kill” policy after a man was gunned down at an Underground train station following a new wave of bomb attacks. Muslims said the shooting deepened their anxiety about a violent backlash against their community in the wake of two sets of bomb attacks blamed on Islamist militants, including one that killed 56 people on July 7. The Muslim Council of Britain demanded police explain why an Asian-looking man, reported as a “suspected suicide bomber” by Sky News, was shot dead at Stockwell station in south London on Friday. Police have confirmed that officers pursued and shot a man who was pronounced dead at the scene, but have offered no explanation for the shooting. The incident came a day after another apparent wave of would-be suicide bombers hit London’s mass transport system, two weeks after four suspected Islamist suicide bombers on trains and a bus killed 56 people. No one was injured in Thursday’s attacks after the bombs apparently failed to go off. A website statement purportedly from the Al-Qaeda terror network claimed responsibility for the attacks Friday but this has not been confirmed. A Muslim Council spokesman said Muslims were “jumpy and nervous” and feared reprisal attacks. “I have just had one phone call saying ‘What if I was carrying a rucksack?’,” said Inayat Bunglawala, referring to the rucksack bombs used in the London attacks. “It’s vital the police give a statement about what occurred (at Stockwell) and explain why the man was shot dead,” Bunglawala said. “We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot-to-kill policy.” Witnesses told Sky News that police shot the man five times at close range after shouting at him to stop. Others described seeing many heavily armed plainclothes officers in unmarked cars at the scene. “There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear,” Bunglawala said. The shooting is the latest in a series of incidents which have threatened to create a rift between Britain’s large Muslim community and the rest of the population in the wake of the terrorist attacks here this month. Some radical British Muslim preachers have blamed the government’s Middle East policy and the British-backed invasion of Iraq for the outrages, although the vast majority of British Muslims have condemned the bombings. “Unless British foreign policy is changed and they withdraw forces from Iraq, I’m afraid there’s going to be a lot of attacks, just the way it happened in Madrid and the way it happened in London,” radical British Muslim preacher Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed told the New York Times this week. The government is drafting a range of tough new laws to crack down on Islamic extremism and those who advocate terrorism, including setting up special intelligence units to monitor Muslims nationwide. Prime Minister Tony Blair called Tuesday on Britain’s Muslim community to confront the “evil ideology” behind terrorism following a meeting with leaders from Islamic groups. In another incident Friday, armed police briefly threw a cordon around a mosque in east London, while the home of a Muslim convert identified as one of the suspected July 7 suicide bombers was sealed off after a suspected arson attack. Analysts said the officers involved in the Stockwell shooting did not appear to be operating according to normal procedures. “These guys may have been some sort of plainclothes special forces,” said terrorism expert Professor Michael Clarke. “To have bullets pumped into him like this suggests quite a lot about him and what the authorities, whoever they are, assumed about him.” Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University said the shooting had parallels with the “very strong” methods used by Israeli security forces and US troops in Iraq. “The kind of tactics the Met (Metropolitan police) appear to have used this morning are very similar to the very tough tactics that the Israelis use against suspected suicide bombers,” he said. “It’s like a bad dream,” Mr. Zafar said. “Someone, crazy guys, make brainwashing.” He added, “We need protection. Like, every week, two times a week, all youngsters in community should go together, and someone is teaching them, ‘This should no happen again.’ ” So far, there is little research and less agreement on how well Muslim newcomers are assimilating as Americans, say scholars like Mr. Skerry, who is associated with the Brookings Institute, and Robert S. Leiken, the director of Immigration and National Security at the Nixon Center. “The whole issue of assimilation and integration in relation to terrorism is extremely complicated,” Mr. Leiken cautioned, noting that more terrorists have turned out to be social winners from an educated middle class, rather than impoverished losers. “Integration may be going well, but there are people who assimilate as critics, as revolutionaries.” There is general agreement, he said, that since 9/11, larger numbers of young Muslims in the United States feel victimized, resentful and alienated, but that is where the consensus ends. “Some people hold that Muslims are integrating in just the same ways that other American immigrants have integrated,” he said. “Others see a process of radical Islamicization.” Once children born to Pakistani, Egyptian or Iraqi immigrants might simply have found a dual identity in a hyphenated bridge to their parents’ national origins. But Mr. Skerry, who has been interviewing such immigrants across the country, said events since 9/11 – special registration programs, the Patriot Act and the war in Iraq – almost require even secular families in this second generation to construct an American identity as Muslims. Partha Banerjee, director of the New Jersey Immigration Policy Network, an immigrant advocacy organization, warned of a growing sense of political exclusion among such immigrants, who are facing an anti-immigrant backlash with virtually no elected officials from their own ethnic group. Income statistics in New Jersey hide sharp disparities, he noted, like the chasm between suburban sahibs in places like Somerset, the nation’s most affluent county, and poor Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in crowded Jersey City households. “Violence and terrorism really have no place in a civilized society and I’m not condoning any type of excuse for it,” Mr. Banerjee stressed. “But the fact remains that if you just exploit and abuse people without giving them their rights, you run the risk of creating a danger in your own society.” In Jersey City, where more than a third of residents are foreign-born, there are no hard-edge ethnic enclaves. A policeman pointed out the second-floor mosque where Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind sheik, used to preach and plot to blow up New York landmarks; it sits over a Chinese takeout restaurant now. A short walk from Mr. Zafar’s shop on Newark Avenue on a recent Friday morning, Haitian families in starched finery entered an old movie palace for a convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. At the beauty parlor nearby, everyone was speaking Spanish. And down the block, Indian, Pakistani and Chinese immigrants of different faiths flocked to Patel’s Cash and Carry for sacks of rice advertised in an all-American way: “Buy two, get one free.” Fauazia Modak, 26, a Muslim immigrant from Bombay, paused in her shopping to protest what she said were harsh government immigration policies that seemed to blame all Muslims for the crimes of a few. Then she smiled at her son Mizan, just under 2. “I don’t think the children over here would be brainwashed,” she said, leaning over his stroller. “I want him to be religious, but I want him to respect all religions. Not just his religion, not just his country.”

Muslims Fear Shoot To Kill Policy-Bangladeshis In East London Scared: Cops Cordon Off Mosque

LONDON: British Muslims said they feared police were operating under a shoot to kill policy after a man was gunned down at an Underground train station Friday following a new wave of bomb attacks, reports AFP. The Muslim Council of Britain called on police to explain why the Asian man, reported as a suspected suicide bomber by Sky News, was shot dead at Stockwell station in south London. Police have confirmed that officers pursued and shot a man who was pronounced dead at the scene, but have offered no explanation for the shooting. The incident came a day after another apparent wave of would-be suicide bombers hit London’s mass transport system, two weeks after four suspected Islamists blew themselves up on trains and a bus, killing 56 people. No one was injured in Thursday’s attacks after the bombs apparently failed to go off. A Muslim Council spokesman said Muslims were jumpy and nervous and feared reprisal attacks. I have just had one phone call saying _What if I was carrying a rucksack?’, said Inayat Bunglawala, referring to the rucksack bombs used in the London attacks. It’s vital the police give a statement about what occurred (at Stockwell) and explain why the man was shot dead, Bunglawala said. We are getting phone calls from quite a lot of Muslims who are distressed about what may be a shoot-to-kill policy. Stockwell is one stop south of Oval station, one of three Underground stops targeted on Thursday, together with a double-decker bus. Witnesses told Sky News that police shot the man five times at close range after shouting at him to stop. There may well be reasons why the police felt it necessary to unload five shots into the man and shoot him dead, but they need to make those reasons clear, Bunglawala said. Police on Friday sealed off the home of a Muslim convert identified as one of the suspected July 7 suicide bombers after a suspected attempt to burn the building. Officers were called to Germaine Lindsay’s home in Aylesbury, a town just outside London, shortly after 6:30 am (0530 GMT) after reports of a strong smell of petrol in the street, officers said. UNB from London adds: Although there have not been any repercussions, Bangladeshi Britons in East London got worried after the latest attempt at bombings in their neighborhood in the British capital today. A sense of anxiety and worry is there among the Bangladeshi British community following today’s attempted bombings as many of them felt that if the situation deteriorated, their businesses might be affected or racial tensions might surface. About security in the Bangladeshi-dominated East London after the incident near Oval in Southeast London, UNB correspondent Shafiqul Islam found the entire London City was put on high alert. All modes of transport are being checked at various points while several subway lines were suspended, says firsthand accounts of the tightened security measures. After the terror attempt near Oval, this correspondent went near the area after an hour of the incident; but he all roads were found closed. However, people resumed their normal life and business. AFP continues: Police briefly threw a cordon around a mosque in east London on Friday, a day after apparent attempts to carry out suicide bombings in the British capital, BBC News 24 television reported. The East London Mosque, on Whitechapel Road, one of the biggest and most modern in the capital, was surrounded by police officers, some of whom were armed, a woman at the scene told the all-news channel by telephone. Not long afterwards, it said the police had stood down, as the focus of attention remained on an Underground subway station in south London where a man-a would-be suicide bomber, according to reports-was shot by police.

In American Cities, No Mirror Image Of Muslims Of Leeds

By NINA BERNSTEIN After the four suicide bombers in London were identified last week, news accounts focused on life in the old mill town of Leeds, where they grew up: the immigrant enclaves, the high unemployment, the rising anger and alienation of Muslim residents. Some Britons grasping for an explanation pointed at those conditions, however tentative their link to homegrown terrorism. Mahendra Kumar Patel, the manager of Patel’s Cash and Carry in Jersey City, has immigrants of many ethnic groups as customers. That rough sketch of Leeds had a familiar ring for many residents of the Northeastern United States, where old mill towns in New Jersey and upstate New York have also drawn many immigrants to faded neighborhoods teetering between blight and renewal. Three of the suspects were raised in immigrant families from Pakistan and one from Jamaica. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now home to at least 20 percent of the nation’s 219,000 Pakistani immigrants, and more than half of the 513,000 immigrants from Jamaica. But the differences between the suspects’ hometown and the depressed cities around New York are actually stronger than the similarities. Social conditions among British immigrants, for example, appear to be considerably worse than they are in the United States. The 747,000 Pakistanis in Britain, counted among its nonwhite residents, are three times more likely to be out of work than white Britons, according to one of several bleak statistics showcased in the 2001 British census. Forty percent of Pakistani women and 28 percent of Pakistani men are listed as having no job qualifications, and school failure among Caribbean blacks is triple the rate for white Britons, who constitute 92 percent of the population. In America, where few surveys even break out ethnic origins, a much rosier picture emerges from available figures. Pakistani household incomes in New York are close to the $43,393 median and exceed it in New Jersey – $56,566 compared with $55,145, according to 1999 figures, the most recent available. Jamaicans fare a little less well statewide, but have robust rates of household income and educational success in New York City, where they are concentrated. They have a clear edge: English proficiency in a place where one in four residents cannot speak it well, and where nearly half of the work force is foreign-born. While South Asian immigrants to Britain began arriving soon after World War II, they were part of a stream of temporary workers to a small, culturally homogenous country where they remained outsiders. In the United States, the pioneer immigrants from predominantly Muslim lands arrived mainly after 1980, many as university students, and like Caribbean blacks, entered a diverse country built on immigration. But demographics fall short of explaining terrorism. As details emerged about the British suspects’ relatively prosperous lives, experts and immigrant parents alike wondered how much collective benchmarks mean in predicting the extremism of a handful of angry people. Compared with Britain, “We definitely have a different dynamic going on here in the United States,” said Peter Skerry, a political scientist at Boston College. “I don’t know that that necessarily means we’re out of the woods – it doesn’t take very much for a set of individuals to adopt attitudes that could lead to a terrorist act.” Others, like Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center of Immigration Studies, which favors more restriction on immigration, point out that this important demographic difference is temporary: Since most immigrants to the United States from Muslim countries arrived after 1990, few of the children born to them here have reached adulthood yet. He found that more than 85 percent of the 100,000 children born in America to Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are under 20. In a Jersey City shop where fresh goat meat and comic videos in Urdu compete for shelf space, Zafar Zafar, a Pakistani father of three, echoed such concerns last week. Mr. Zafar, whose oldest child is 13, struggled in imperfect English to convey his horror at the case of Shahzad Tanweer, 22, the suspect described as a pious but fun-loving youth whose father owned a fish-and-chips shop in Leeds.

Britain Preparing New Blacklist Of Terror Suspects; U.K. Hopes To Quell Flow Of Militants Into The Country

By Glenn Frankel London — Britain is drawing up a new blacklist to block alleged terrorist sympathizers from entering the country and deport those already here, officials announced Wednesday, detailing expanded efforts to head off violence such as the July 7 bombings. Officials also said they had reached an agreement to extradite Jordanian terrorism suspects to Jordan. Civil libertarians have expressed concern that the deportees could be subjected to torture and other abuses, despite Jordan’s pledges of good treatment. The crackdown is part of a government campaign to root out what it views as fundamental causes of the transit attacks, following the disclosure that the four men who appear to have carried out the suicide bombings were young British Muslims who turned into fanatics. At least 56 people, including the bombers, died in the attacks, and 700 were wounded. Britain has for years seen itself as a haven for political refugees, including some considered extremists by other European countries and the United States. But the bombings have caused the government to reconsider both its immigration policies and its tradition of freedom of speech. In Pakistan, authorities said they were searching for a man named Haroon Rashid, who they believe may have played a role in the attacks. They denied reports that they had arrested him. A man by that relatively common name was taken into custody, officials said, but then released when it was determined that he was not the person being sought. Senior Pakistani intelligence officials have said that, after early questioning of two dozen people suspected of being Islamic radicals, no clues about the terrorist contacts of the London bombers have been found. About 150 such suspects have been detained during a nationwide police crackdown in the past two days. Three of the apparent bombers were of Pakistani descent and visited Pakistan in the months before the attacks. The fourth man was a Jamaican-born convert to Islam. In London, the government hopes that the new measures under discussion will cut off or reduce the opportunities for radicals to influence alienated young Muslims in urban areas such as Leeds, the northern British city where three of the men lived. Charles Clarke, the Cabinet minister in charge of domestic security, told the House of Commons that the government plans to compile a database of unacceptable behavior, such as preaching extremism, running radical Web sites and writing articles intended to foment terrorism. He said he had asked his department and Britain’s intelligence services to “establish a full database of individuals around the world who have demonstrated relevant behaviors.” Those on the list could be barred from the country if their presence is judged as “not conducive to the public interest,” he said. “In the circumstances we now face, I have decided that it is right to broaden the use of these powers to deal with those who foment terrorism or seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.” Clarke also said he planned a new offense of indirect incitement to terrorism that would target “those who, while not directly inciting, glorify and condone terrorist acts knowing full well that the effect on their listeners will be to encourage them to turn to terrorism.” His statement won immediate backing from the opposition Conservative Party, which said it also wanted the government to regulate and vet Muslim clerics to weed out extremists. “There are good imams and bad imams, and it’s no help to the good imams if we don’t deal with the bad imams,” said David Davies, the party’s home affairs spokesman. Clarke also announced that the government had reached a memorandum of understanding with Jordan that would allow Britain to deport suspects there. Under international law, Britain cannot send people back to a country where they might face mistreatment or the death penalty, but officials said the memorandum, which was not released, included assurances that deportees would be treated correctly. Officials have said they are negotiating similar agreements with several other Arab governments. Amnesty International, the human rights organization, said it had compiled recent accounts from Jordan of secret detentions of political prisoners, beatings during interrogation with sticks and cables, sleep deprivation and threats of killing and rape against prisoners and their families. “Frankly, we think these assurances are not worth the paper they’re written on,” said Saria Rees-Roberts, an Amnesty spokeswoman. “It’s just unacceptable for the U.K. to try to circumvent the global ban on torture. We believe the U.K. must bring the people responsible for the bombings to justice, but going soft on torture is not the answer.” One of those likely to be targeted for deportation is Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born cleric who has been convicted of terrorism in absentia in his native Jordan. The authorities branded him as one of the spiritual fathers of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, after police found tapes of his fiery anti-Western sermons at the Hamburg apartment used by some of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Qatada was arrested three years ago on suspicion of terrorism and is under house arrest in London, but authorities say they have been unable to bring him to trial because much of the evidence against him is based on intelligence data that they do not want to reveal in court.

Spain: With The Bombs Came Questions

The attacks of March 11th in Madrid, in which several Moroccans took part, have changed teh relationship between the Spanish and Muslims. Before, they lived next to one another, with little trouble, but also little integration. Spaniards have become much more suspicious, and life has gotten much more difficult for Moroccans. However, there is also a belief that Spanish society has reacted rather tolerantly. {(continued below in German)} Die Bombenanschl_ge des Terrornetzwerks El Kaida in Madrid am 11. M_rz vergangenen Jahres, an denen haupts_chlich Marokkaner beteiligt waren, haben das Verh_ltnis der Muslime und Spanier deutlich ver_ndert. Vorher lebten sie nebeneinander her, ohne viel voneinander zu wissen. Es gab keine Ausschreitungen, keine Diskriminierung, aber auch keine Integration. Die Anschl_ge h_tten Letzteres sehr deutlich gemacht, glaubt Mohamed El Afifi, Sprecher des Centro Cultural Isl_mico in Madrid, der gr?_ten der sechs Moscheen in Spanien: “Pl_tzlich wurden die Spanier misstrauisch.” Vielen Marokkanern sei nach den Anschl_gen gek_ndigt worden, viele h_tten bis heute keinen neuen Job gefunden. Auch bei der Wohnungssuche h_tten Muslime heute viel mehr Probleme. “Das liegt auch daran, dass fast alles, was wir im Fernsehen _ber den Islam erfahren, derzeit negativ ist”, sagt die aus Syrien stammende Journalistin Malak Mustafa Sahioni. Dennoch glaubt sie wie auch Afifi, dass die spanische Gesellschaft im Vergleich zur britischen oder amerikanischen toleranter reagiert habe. Afifi: “Sie haben nicht begonnen, uns alle zu hassen, im Gegenteil, sie wollten auf einmal mehr _ber den Islam wissen, und die Regierung hat von Anfang an geholfen, dass die Menschen zwischen Terroristen und Muslimen unterscheiden.” Die Regierung hat in den vergangenen Monaten einiges bewegt, so bekamen Anfang dieses Jahres viele Tausende illegal in Spanien lebender Muslime eine Aufenthaltsgenehmigung. Zudem wurde endlich die vor drei Jahren gestartete Initiative, in der Schule nicht nur katholische Religion, sondern auch andere Glaubensrichtungen in einem Fach geb_ndelt zu lehren, umgesetzt. Und: Die Mittel f_r kostenlose Sprachkurse wurden aufgestockt. Aber auch die Muslime selber h_tten durch den Terror vom 11. M_rz gelernt, sagt Sahioni: “Sie haben verstanden wie wichtig die volle Integration ist.”

19 Doomed Bids To Nail Hate Clerics

By Jeff Edwards SCOTLAND Yard has tried to prosecute hate preachers 20 times in the past two years but only succeeded once, Britain’s top policeman revealed yesterday. But on the same day controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri said the Government and public share some of the blame for the July 7 terror attacks. Met chief Sir Ian Blair went on to criticise inadequate laws – and said it showed why tougher ones were needed, such as a new offence of praising terror atrocities. He said: “We have got to find effective new legal means of dealing with people glorifying terrorism and encouraging youngsters to carry out the sort of shocking atrocities we have just witnessed. We have got to find new ways to prevent and investigate terrorism.” Sir Ian added: “On 20 occasions in the last couple of years we have put different pieces of evidence to the CPS – sometimes about the same people. Only once have we been able to cross the boundary of incitement to murder.” He went on: “You cannot commit a criminal offence that does not exist. That is why we need a new offence. ‘Glorifying terrorism’ would do very well.” And the Met chief said it was vital police liaised closely with Britain’s Islamic leaders to “identify and stop vulnerable young men and women being drawn into terrorism”. Mr Bakri, a Syrian-born father of seven, said: “I blame the British Government, the British public and the Muslim community in the UK because they failed to make the extra effort to put an end to the cycle of bloodshed which started before 9/11 and on July 7 was devastating for everybody.” He condemned the July 7 attacks but said it was not enough to blame the four suicide bombers for what had happened. Meanwhile a British fanatical Islamic leader yesterday described those killed in the Tube and bus bombings as “specific targets against a specific nation”. Anjem Choudary, leader of the disbanded Al Muhajiroun, refused to condemn the 7/7 atrocities. Instead he blamed the British people for re-electing Tony Blair and his “lackeys” in mainstream Muslim groups. The parents of a New Zealand woman killed in the blasts paid tribute to her at a London service yesterday. Kathryn Gilkison – who flew to the capital after daughter Shelley Mather, 26, died in the King’s Cross Tube blast – described her as a “beautiful and vibrant young woman”. And a vicar whose daughter was also killed was given free rides by two taxi drivers as she travelled to London to mourn. Rev Julie Nicholson – whose daughter Jenny, 24, died at Edgware Road – had been heading to St Paul’s Cathedral with Jenny’s boyfriend James, 26, to observe the two-minute silence. CIRCLE Line Tube services should be running normally within two weeks, London Underground chiefs said yesterday. Full services should run on the Metropolitan line and Hammersmith and City lines from Monday.

How Well Are American Muslims Fitting In? The Suicide Bombings In London Raise Questions Of Assimilation For The 3 Million Muslims In The US

By Howard LaFranchi Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor WASHINGTON – It’s called the “Virginia Jihad” case: Iraqi-American medical researcher Ali al-Yimimi, who preached in northern Virginia mosques and disseminated his radical thinking on the Web, was sentenced to life imprisonment last week. His crime: inciting followers, many of them young American-born Muslims, to a violent defense of Islam and war against the United States and its intervention in Islamic countries. Mr. Timimi’s sentencing in an Alexandria, Va., courtroom came against the backdrop of the London bombings, which British police now say were carried out by young British Muslims – and not foreign terrorists as in the case of the Sept. 11 attacks. They also say that the mastermind may have been a US-educated Egyptian chemist arrested Friday in Cairo. The London blasts not only brought the phenomenon of terrorists blowing themselves up to Western soil, but they raise new concerns of home-grown terrorism – not to mention a sense of dread about consequences among Britain’s predominately peaceful and moderate Muslim population of approximately 1.6 million. In the US, the attacks and events like the Virginia Jihad case are raising anxieties about immigrants and their allegiances in the midst of a rapidly expanding immigrant population. With a new report finding that births to foreign-born women in the US are at their highest level ever – nearly 1 in 4 – some experts are warning that the traditional rapid assimilation of immigrants risks breaking down – with potentially worrisome consequences. “Traditionally you had in the US an immigrant child learning to swim in a sea of native children, but increasingly it is the children of natives lost in a sea of children of immigrants,” says Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. His research of US Census figures shows that in 2002, 23 percent of US births were to immigrant mothers – up from 15 percent in 1990. The figure is closer to 25 percent today, Mr. Camarota adds, and could approach 30 percent by 2010. The vast majority of those children are born to Mexican and other immigrant Spanish-speaking women – a fact that prominent experts like Harvard’s Samuel Huntington, of “clash of civilizations” fame, say presents its own special challenges. Camarota estimates that the US Muslim population is about 3 million, including converts. Other organizations, such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations, put the overall number much higher, at perhaps 6 million. Based on a 2002 study of US immigrants from the broader Middle East, Camarota estimates around 600,000 children of Muslim immigrants in the US. These facts, set in the context of new twists in Islamic terrorism, are raising questions about how well the children of Muslim immigrants are being assimilated. In California, the issue arose last month in the Central Valley town of Lodi – with a community of some 3,000 Muslims, mostly Pakistani immigrants or their descendants – where federal agents arrested two residents, a father and a son, for allegedly lying about links to terrorist-training camps in Pakistan, and two local imams. The Lodi case roiled the city’s Muslim community, raising worries about the sudden national spotlight, and drawing professions of allegiance and love for America from the local Muslim residents. Such cases appear to be feeding a growing sense of concern among Americans about immigration, and about Muslim immigrants in particular. In a new survey published last week by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, Americans joined other Westerners in the perception that Muslims have a strong and growing sense of Islamic identity, and want to remain distinct from the mainstream culture. “What we’re seeing is a relationship between a perception of separatism among Muslims living in these [North American and European] countries and serious concerns about extremism,” says Carolyn Funk, senior project director for the international survey of Islamic extremism. The survey of 17 countries did find that approval of terrorist acts such as suicide bombings is falling in many Muslim countries, with more Muslims expressing concerns about the threat posed by Islamic extremism to their own country. Even Osama bin Laden is losing some of the shine he enjoyed in some countries, such as Morocco and Indonesia, although the survey shows esteem for him actually rising in Jordan and Pakistan. In Western countries with sizable Muslim minorities, the survey shows, concerns about unassimilating populations run parallelel to worries about extremist violence. In the US, where 70 percent said they worried about Islamic extremism in their country, half said they sensed an increasing interest in Islamic identity, and generally saw that as a bad thing. “The US is on the lower end [when compared to European countries],” says Ms. Funk, “but the same trend is there.” Americans seem to be of two minds about immigration, with a new Gallup poll confirming that ambivalence: It finds that a large majority of Americans think immigration is good for the country, while at the same time feeling that current levels of immigration are too high. For experts like CIS’s Camarota and others, those misgivings reflect a concern about the ability – or desire – of some groups to assimilate. At the same time, many Muslim community representatives say assimilation has become more difficult as Islamic extremism has risen to have an impact on the West. And they add that addressing the isolation and fanaticism that can feed homegrown extremism has to be the work of both the Islamic community and the broader society. “The challenges for immigrants, and in particular for Muslims, are more formidable in the post-9/11 era; the assimilation process is a much more difficult mountain to climb,” says Salam al-Marayati, national director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles. Comparing the assimilation process to something of a two-way street, he says there are essential roles for both the minority Muslim community and the majority society “to make sure that Islam and Muslims play a positive role in American pluralism.” He also says that public officials must do more to acknowledge the cooperation they are getting from and relationships they are building with the Muslim community. He notes for example that his organization is working with the Department of Justice and the FBI on an antiterrorism campaign that has resulted in community forums and training in 20 cities. But he says officials have never held the press conference acknowledging the program as promised. “All I can think is that there are political calculations that keep them from doing it,” Mr. Marayati says. If true, that would run counter to what many experts say is a key factor in preventing another attack on US soil: the cooperation and allegiance of American Muslims. Clearly many have played key roles in cases where law enforcement has been able to target activities with potentially violent designs. But some Muslims say more encouragement is needed. “There’s a lack of space for Muslims to contribute to the political and social spheres,” Marayati says, “and you end up with an exclusion of the American Muslim voice.”

Blair, Muslims Draw Up Plan To Tackle Extremists

By Gideon Long LONDON (Reuters) – British Muslim leaders and Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed ways to tackle radical Islamists on Tuesday in the wake of the London bombings, but face a tough task to win round disaffected young Muslims. Senior imams, Muslim politicians and representatives of the Muslim Council of Britain went to Downing Street where they had an hour-long discussion with Blair. “There was a strong desire from everybody there to make sure we establish the right mechanisms for people to be able to go into the community and confront this … evil ideology, take it on and defeat it,” Blair told a news conference afterwards. Muslim member of parliament Shahid Malik said there was “a massive appetite” among Britain’s 1.6 million Muslims to weed out radicals. “We recognize we’ve got to work better at confronting those evil voices — as minute as they are — inside our communities,” he said. But radical Muslims dismissed the meeting as a sham and even some moderates said they were suspicious of Blair’s agenda. “The whole focus has been on trying to put the blame on Islam and the Muslim leadership,” said Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News, Britain’s biggest selling Muslim newspaper. He said there was “deep concern” in the Muslim community “about how far Blair may try and impose some kind of secular interpretation of Islam in his declared aim of helping Muslims to find a ‘moderate and true voice’.” SHOCK WAVES The attacks of July 7, and the revelation that the bombers were British Muslims and not foreign militants, has sent shock waves through the country’s Islamic community. While condemning the bombings, Muslim leaders have had to accept there are radicals in their midst who advocate violence and preach hatred of the West. Some Muslims have called for reform in Britain’s mosques, which they say are out of touch with young Muslims. Others have urged police to clamp down on radical Islamist groups who regularly canvas outside mosques and on university campuses. One such group, Al Muhajiroun, disbanded last year but its former members are still active. Its former leader in Britain, Anjem Choudary, said Tuesday’s meeting at Downing Street was an irrelevance. “The type of so-called Muslims at this meeting are those who toe the government line,” he said. “They are the lackeys of the British government. They’re the ones who have been appointed by Tony Blair to be the official voice of the Muslims.” He said Britain would inevitably be attacked again by Islamist militants if it refused to change its foreign policy in Iraq, the Middle East and Kashmir. “For us, the main objectives are to work to implement the sharia wherever we are and obviously to support the jihad wherever it is taking place,” he added. Faced with such militancy, the Muslim Council of Britain faces an uphill struggle. While it is an influential umbrella group which brings together some 400 British Muslim organizations, it has come under fire from some young Muslims who say it is out of touch with their feelings.

British Intelligence Units To Track Muslims Across Britain: Report

LONDON – The British government is planning to set up special intelligence units to monitor Muslims nationwide to better detect extremists and thwart eventual attacks, a newspaper reported. The Muslim Contact Units, staffed by London’s Metropolitan Police Special Branch officers, will be established in areas including Yorkshire, northwest England and parts of the Midlands, the Guardian reported. “Deep knowledge of Muslim communities is rare in the service,” a senior police officer with knowledge of the scheme told the Guardian. “If you are going to understand who is extreme and who is dangerous, which are different (ideas), you have to understand the community,” the officer was quoted as saying “Unless you know the subject well and what they are saying, often in Arabic or Urdu, and what the context is, you are not going to get a feel for it,” the source said. He stressed that the squads would be open about their work. “It is not about spying.” The police and Home Office said a Muslim Contact Unit operating in London has already helped thwart extremist attempts to recruit young British Muslims to violent jihad, by working with Islamic communities, the Guardian said. The establishment of the special units is one of the first concrete counter-terrorist measure to emerge after the July 7 London bombings on three subway trains and one bus that claimed the lives of 56 people. Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday met moderate British Muslim leaders and agreed on a taskforce to produce measures to tackle extremism. The units will not only gather intelligence on extremist activity but also help protect Muslim communities from abuse and attacks, the Guardian said. Any leads on extremists can be passed to the security services or acted upon by police. Plans to expand the Muslim Contact Units are expected to get final approval and funding soon from ministers, it added.

Pat Robertson Claimed That Islam “At Its Core, Teaches Violence”

On the July 14 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network’s The 700 Club, host Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America, blurred the distinction between radical Islamists and the Muslim community at large, claiming that Islam instructs its followers to commit acts of terrorism: ROBERTSON: Don’t you feel it rather interesting that every time you have a story about terrorism, it is linked to Muslim extremists? You don’t hear somebody, “Christian extremist killing film producers, Christian extremists blowing up trains.” It just doesn’t happen. But it’s Muslim extremists and, ladies and gentlemen, Islam, at least at its core, teaches violence. It’s there in the Quran in clear, bold statements. Well over 100 verses dealing with violence against infidels, and that is what they’re taught. They’re also taught to sacrifice themselves in jihad against infidels to gain paradise. It is part of the teaching of that faith. And I know people so reluctant to say, “Lets not identify those terrorists with these wonderful people.” Well, yes, they may be wonderful people, but this is what that faith teaches, and those who believe it sincerely in their hearts are those that think Osama bin Laden is their great hero. And I think we need to recognize that. Political correctness says that you’re not supposed to recognize this, but it just happens to be the truth. Every story, you see it over and over again, Muslim extremists blew up trains, Muslim extremists assassinated film producers. Muslim extremists blew up a crowded shopping center in Netanya [Israel]. Muslim extremists, it’s always Muslims, and that’s where it comes from, it’s the breeding ground. And then it’s radical clerics who incite this kind of violence, and it’s time we recognize it and begin to deal with it.