LONDON: A controversial Muslim academic has been chosen by the Government to sit on a new taskforce designed to combat Islamic extremism. Professor Tariq Ramadan, who has been banned from the US and France, is a member of the Government’s working group on tackling extremism which met for the first time last week. Days after the July 7 bombings, right-wing newspapers described the decision to allow Prof Ramadan into the UK as utter madness. The Egyptian-born academic has been accused of supporting the use of violence – an allegation he refutes. Asked by an Italian magazine if car bombings against US forces in Iraq were justified, he was quoted as saying: Iraq was colonised by the Americans. Resistance against the army is just. But speaking in London on July 24, Prof Ramadan said: What happens sometimes in the name of Islam has nothing to do with our religion and we have to say it and we have to condemn it. We condemn terrorists, but I really think we have to do something more to promote the right education and to say where this is wrong. The new working group will report to Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Prime Minister Tony Blair by the end of September on the way to prevent British Muslims turning towards violence and extremism. Last year the Department of Homeland Security revoked Prof Ramadan’s visa nine days before he was due to take up a professorship in the US, claiming he had endorsed terrorist activity. A Home Office spokeswoman said: We haven’t yet agreed the final make-up of the working group and are not able to confirm its membership.
A majority of British Muslims say clerics should preach in the English language, a BBC survey suggests. The Mori poll for the BBC found 65% of Muslims backed such a move, compared with 39% of the national population. More than half of UK Muslims were born in the country and younger generations, backed by progressive leaders, have long advocated more English in mosques. Many believe English-speaking imams helps break down cultural divides between Islam and mainstream society. Backing for multiculturalism Commenting on the poll, imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, chair of the Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony, said it was important for “integration and communication” that imams in the UK spoke English. The Koran commanded imams to speak in the “language of the nation” and those that did not were “not actually performing their duties” as community leaders, he added. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme “nobody knows” how many imams could not speak English, but added: “My feeling is that only 10% are well versed in English and 90% probably speak in their own mother tongue – Turkish, Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic and so on.” ‘Home-grown imams’ He said the “majority of people” in mosques did not understand the imams because “56% of our young people are born British and the only country they know of is England, the United Kingdom”. He said British Muslims needed “home-grown imams” who “can be the real leaders of the community not just simply preachers”. ISLAM AND INTEGRATION There are enormous numbers who go to mosque and colleges at the same time; they don’t have a problem integrating while sticking to their religious principles Imam Saeed Ahmed Dawn to dusk: Life of an imam Increasing numbers of imams are British-born and educated in the country. Many pursue their higher education in both British universities and the Islamic seats of learning in the Middle East. Muslim leaders also supported a Home Office move to impose language tests on all religious ministers coming to the UK, saying they regarded it as key to imams being able to do their job. Sadia Hussein of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, an organisation that has campaigned for reform of mosques – particularly over access for women – welcomed the poll results. “The poll further reinforces the need for ‘Mosque reform’, ackowledged by many Muslims who are requesting Imams to deliver educational programmes and sermons in English with a wider knowledge of British society and politics,” she said. “Mosques [should] open their doors to improve relations and celebrate British multiculturalism.” The BBC survey, which was carried out to test attitudes towards multiculturalism in the wake of the 7 July bombings, also suggests the majority of British people think multiculturalism makes the country a better place. But 32% think it “threatens the British way of life” and 54% think “parts of the country don’t feel like Britain any more because of immigration”. International sport The survey questioned 1,004 people in the UK. A booster survey of 204 British Muslims was conducted for comparison. The overwhelming majority of Muslims surveyed – 89% – said they feel proud when British teams do well in international sports competitions, a similar figure to the national population. And the survey suggests broad agreement between the two groups on immigrants being made to learn English and accept the authority of British institutions. But the survey suggests a more confused attitude to the concept of multiculturalism. Some 62% of the national population believe “multiculturalism makes Britain a better place to live”, according to the poll. At the same time, 58% thought “people who come to live in Britain should adopt the values of and traditions of British culture”. Among Muslims, 87% thought multiculturalism improved British society, but only 28% thought people coming from abroad should adopt British culture and values. Both Muslims and the broader population disagreed strongly with the suggestion that the policy of multiculturalism had failed and should be abandoned. Only 2% of the national population described themselves as “very racially prejudiced”, but a third said they thought Islam was “incompatible with the values of British democracy”.
LONDON, Aug 7:-In a massive crackdown on extremists following the London terror attacks, British authorities will deport in phases as many as 500 radical Muslims, out of which a dozen clerics will be sent to their homelands over the next two weeks, reports PTI. The move follows British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s announcement last week of a purge on terrorists and extremists. Immigration officials have already been given a list of names, compiled by MI5, and told to begin proceedings. Among the first to be deported will be a dozen radical clerics. But, hundreds of other foreign extremists, including some Islamic bookshop owners, writers, teachers and website operators will also go, the ‘News of the World’ report said. “Just as the police operation over the past four weeks has been dynamic and fast-paced, so will our response,” a senior home official was quoted as saying. All 500 names have been taken from a “watch list” of extremists compiled over the past five years by the Intelligence Service. Their identities are being kept secret so that they will not be able to go into hiding or mount a legal challenge. The deportation process will begin after Home Secretary Charles Clarke returns from holiday this week. An initial wave of up to 100 people will be booted out in the next month, officials at both the Home Office and the Foreign Office revealed. Another 100 foreign nationals will then be sent home by the end of the year. And 300 more will be sent home next year once the government has new laws in place to strip them of their British citizenship. Over the next week agreements will be completed with ten African and Middle Eastern countries to make sure they will accept the extremists.
Aug. 9 (Bloomberg) — Measures proposed by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to crack down on Muslim extremists are ”hasty” and ”inappropriate” and may end up encouraging terrorism, leaders in Parliament and the Muslim community said. Blair failed to consult adequately before announcing plans on Aug. 5 to tackle extremism by deporting clerics, closing down mosques and banning parties such as Hizb ut-Tahrir, said Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, and John Denham, chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in Parliament. ”I don’t think enough thought and consideration has been given in terms of its repercussion and impact it has on the community,” Sacranie said in a telephone interview. ”Measures need to be taken, that’s understood; but the way they’re coming out at the moment is not really very helpful.” Blair has been under pressure to act against domestic Muslim extremists after the police reported that the suspects of the July 7 and July 21 bomb attacks in London, which killed 56 people including four bombers, were British residents. U.K. policies have let in extremist clerics who praise acts of terrorism, Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi ambassador to London and former intelligence chief, said. The prime minister postponed his vacation plans by a day to announce the measures. It was followed by reports in the Times and other newspapers that the government was considering the introduction of secret courts for pre-trials of terrorism suspects as well as charging people under a treason law that hasn’t been used since World War II. Consensus After initially consulting with opposition leaders and Muslims about the government’s reaction to the bomb attacks, Blair failed to seek further consensus opinion, said Denham, former Home Affairs junior minister and currently chairman of the House of Commons Committee on Home Affairs. ”The last few days really give this sense that the government have got into a real state of nerves about the whole thing,” Denham told the British Broadcasting Corp. PM program. ”I think they’ve got to get a grip on it very, very quickly, stop floating half-baked ideas and get back to proper cross-party consensus on the serious measures that need to be taken.” Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, in charge of government while Blair is on vacation, said critics will have a chance to debate his proposals as they considered by Parliament. ”He’s told people to get on with it and see how we can flesh out these proposals,” Prescott said at a press conference in London. ”In the meantime, there’s bound to be speculation.”
LONDON – Muslims in Britain will not suffer discrimination at the hands of the police in the wake of the London bombings, Home Office minister Hazel Blears said on Tuesday. Counter-terrorism powers are not targeting any community in particular, but are targeting terrorists, said Blears during a day of talks with Muslim community leaders in northwest England. That is why they have got to be intelligence-led and used proportionally, fairly, and in a non-discriminatory way. Blears travelled to Oldham, a mill town near Manchester with a large Muslim community of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, on a bridge-building mission nearly a month after the July 7 attacks on London’s transport system killed 56 people including four suicide bombers. Her message followed the admission by British Transport Police that its officers would carry out anti-terrorist spot-checks on minority groups, rather than waste time searching old white ladies. The specialised force polices London’s Underground subway — the target of three of the four July 7 bombings, plus as many attempted bombings two weeks later — as well as the national rail network. Blears, echoing a message issued by Prime Minister Tony Blair, said the 1.6 million strong Muslim community in Britain could play a vital role in tackling terrorism. These people who are extremists are a tiny, tiny minority, said the junior minister, in charge of public security while Home Secretary Charles Clarke is away on a summer break. We have got to make sure that the mainstream feel strong enough to take them on, and as a government we will work with them to do that, she said. These people are criminals, they are terrorists, they are extremists, but they are seeking to justify what they do in a perverted interpretation of Islam. What we have discussed today is the need to teach the true nature of Islam, which is about peace and love.
In a humiliating defeat for British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, the House of Lords voted against the controversial anti-terror law, inflicting a series of blows on proposals to give the Home Secretary extensive powers over suspect terrorists. The Lords voted Monday, March 7, by 249 to 199 against the controversial bill, demanding judicial oversight of the extensive powers the government originally suggested be given to the Home Secretary, which ranges from electronic tagging to curfews and freedom of association, Reuters reported. “They have to be better than the awfulness of what is in this bill,” Helena Kennedy, a senior lawyer and peer in Blair’s Labour Party, said. The proposed law allows the government to place so-called control orders on persons it deems “terrorism suspects” on mere suspicion, imposing measures such as electronic tagging or even a form of indefinite house arrest without trial. If approved, the law would give the government powers unprecedented in peacetime to curtail the activities of both British citizens and foreign nationals’ suspects. It would replace an earlier law allowing “foreign terror suspects” to be jailed without trial, which Britain’s highest court of appeal struck down late last year after ruling it contravened human rights obligations. Adamant to pass the laws as they stand, Blair had rejected Conservative proposals to put a time limit on the measures, which sparked fears it would erode the country’s long-established human rights by targeting people on “mere suspicions”. “Reasonable Grounds” Giving the controversial bill the thumbs-down, the British Lords demanded a higher standard of proof before any restriction of movement could be imposed. In this regard, two amendments of the bill were pressed for by two members of the Liberal Democrats Party, according to the BBC News Online. One raises the standard of proof for making a control order from “reasonable grounds” for suspicion to a requirement that a judge must be satisfied on the “balance of probabilities” such an order is justified. Another introduces a requirement for the director of public prosecutions to deliver a statement to the court saying there was not reasonable prospect of a successful prosecution before an order was made. “Sunset Clause” “The speed with which this legislation is going through this House and has already gone through the Commons, I believe, is evidence enough that we need such a clause on the face of the bill,” said Lord Kingsland, the Shadow Lord Chancellor. He stressed that the opposition to the controversial legislation would also try Tuesday to introduce what he termed a “sunset clause”, which would see the bill lapse on November 30. Home Office minister Baroness Scotland, however, said the “sunset clause” would not be an appropriate step. “This Bill Should Not Be Seen As A Very Short Stopgap.” The Government’s failure to see off the opposition to the bill may force ministers to consider further concessions or risk losing its entire anti-terror bill. Scotland revealed Sunday that if the anti-terror proposals are rejected by the Lords, Blair plans to use the so-called Parliament Act to force them on to the statute book. It added that invoking the Parliament Act over house arrest plans would “expose ministers to renewed controversy at a time when they are desperately trying to rally opposition parties and their own MPs behind them”. Muslims in Britain are complaining that they are maltreated by police under the Terrorism Act for no apparent reason other than being Muslim, citing the routine stop-and-search operations. Senior British parliamentarians admitted last August that anti-terrorism laws are being used “disproportionately” against the Muslim minority.
By Vikram Dodd and Alan Travis Hazel Blears, the minister responsible for counter-terrorism, said yesterday that Muslims will have to accept as a “reality” that they will be stopped and searched by the police more often than the rest of the public. Ms Blears told MPs that “there was no getting away from it”, because the terrorist threat came from people “falsely hiding behind Islam”. Her comments, on the day when leading British Muslim groups met to hammer out a strategy on maximising the Islamic vote for the election, provoked immediate condemnation from Islamic leaders. Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: “She is demonising and alienating our community. It is a legitimisation for a backlash and for racists to have an onslaught on our community.” The Home Office minister’s comments come at an awkward time for the Labour government. It is struggling to pass anti-terrorism legislation through parliament and preparing for a general election where the traditionally loyal Muslim vote is threatening to desert the party. Ms Blears was speaking at the Commons home affairs committee inquiry into the impact of anti-terrorist measures on community relations. “If a threat is from a particular place then our action is going to be targeted at that area,” she said, adding: “It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community.” Statistics showed that of the 17 people found guilty of terrorist acts since 9/11 in the UK, only four of the 12 whose ethnic backgrounds were known were Muslim, Mr Shadjareh said. The Muslim Council of Britain was in discussions with the Home Office about what the minister had meant. Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the MCB, said he feared they legitimised anti-Muslim sentiment and warned the minister against scaremongering to drum up support for the new terror laws: “The remarks are thoroughly unhelpful as we’ve seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the UK. “It is wholly unacceptable if a government minister is using her office to scaremonger at the expense of our community to ease the passage of legislation designed to curb our civil liberties.” Ms Blears’ comments come after Monday night’s vote over controversial new anti-terrorism powers that could see suspects subject to house arrest. The measures provoked a rebellion that saw the government’s majority reduced to 14, and yesterday the bill reached the House of Lords. Ms Blears also cited new Home Office stop and search figures showing that the rise in the number of Asian people stopped under the Terrorism Act was no longer as sharp as those involving white or black people. Counter-terror stop and searches rose from 21,500 in 2002-03 to nearly 30,000 in 2003-04. Those involving white people rose by 43% from 14,429 to 20,637; those involving black people rose by 55% from 1,745 to 2,704 over the same period; and those involving Asian people rose 22% from 2,989 to 3,668. Ms Blears said the figures may reassure the Muslim community they were not being unfairly targeted but she said it was important for the government to develop a broader conversation with the Islamic community than just talking about the terrorist threat.
Muslims made to feel like an enemy within by Islamophobic attitudes, report concludes By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent Hardening prejudice against Islam is creating a disaffected underclass of young Muslim “time-bombs” likely to explode into violence, the Government was warned yesterday. The forecast of race riots followed a major investigation into “Islamophobia”, which concluded that British Muslims felt outsiders in their own country after the 11 September terrorist atrocities. A series of senior figures in the Muslim community told the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia think-tank of the aggression and hostility they regularly encountered. The commission concluded that some communities perceived themselves as ghettoised, leaving them vulnerable to the influence of extremists. It demanded urgent action to tackle discrimination against Muslims and criticised race relations organisations for acting too slowly on the problem.
NEWARK, Ohio, February 25 (IslamOnline.net & News Agencies) – Maad Abu-Ghazalah is hoping to be the first Muslim American ever elected to Congress. He will vie in the March 2nd Primary against fellow Democrats Tom Lantos and Rohit Khanna. The Palestinian-born Abu-Ghazalah, 44, has already raised $30,000 at a fundraiser at the Muslim Community Association (MCA) in Santa Clara, California, reported the New California Media (NCM), a group comprising some 700 ethnic communities worldwide. His platform calls for brining home the U.S. troops occupying Iraq, repealing the U.S. Patriot Act, ending the corporate influence on the policy-making mechanism and protecting the environment.
Heavy handed anti-terrorist policing is driving British Muslims into the hands of al-Qa’ida and other Islamic extremist groups, David Blunkett and Scotland Yard have been warned. The Muslim community is increasingly alarmed at the number of people being arrested for suspected anti-terrorist offences, but released without charge. Extremists, such as the supporters of al-Qa’ida and al-Muhajiroun, a radical Muslim organisation, are attempting to exploit this unrest and recruit new members in Britain, the Home Secretary and the police have been told. The warning by Muslim leaders follows the arrest of 537 people by the Metropolitan Police under anti-terrorist legislation since the 11 September attacks in 2001. Of those detained, 94 have been charged with terrorist-related offences and six have been convicted.