UK Muslims divided over Syria intervention


British Muslims are in an anguished position over Syria, with profound distrust of western military intervention clashing with a desire to see the demise of President Assad. “I was in Oldham yesterday talking to a large crowd and people usually think, here we go again, another Muslim nation being attacked,” said Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, one of the UK’s most senior Muslim politicians. “But here they see it is right for Syria’s chemical weapons and air strike capability to be dismantled. People know that there’s a real problem and that 100,000 people have been killed. People can see millions of children being moved and being bombed. Charities working with women who have been raped and that is a very sensitive issue.”


“On every occasion America has gone to war it has used the same argument that it will be selective,” added Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque. “It doesn’t wash with the Muslim community. By interfering in Syria it is going to antagonise Iran, Russia and China and open a Pandora’s box that will take Syria into a darker age that will leave the Muslim world further divided.”


“There is sceptism about who has used chemical weapons and there needs to be a clear proof,” he said. “It if was chemicals why can’t America convince China and Russia? Chemical weapons used against civilians are an atrocity. If Russia, China and Iran are in a civilised world, they should take more action. If they took a strong stand Assad would be crippled.”


Jehangir Malik, UK director of the aid agency Islamic Relief, said he agreed with Lord Ahmed that British Muslim anxiety about attacks is tempered by the feeling that something must be done.” The Muslim community will be sceptical of this intervention, going in after two and a half years,” he said. “But no other Muslim country has done anything so what are the options?”


Malik said the fact that the action against Assad was not being sold as part of the “war on terror” meant feeling was “not as anti as with Afghanistan and Iraq”. But he also warned that any strikes could result in the conflict escalating and the humanitarian situation worsening.


Labour peer Lord Ahmed suspended over claims he blamed imprisonment on ‘Jewish conspiracy’

The story today is that the labour party has suspended one of its members in light of comments made in a Pakistani television interview. The peer was suspended after he appeared to blame a Jewish conspiracy for his imprisonment for dangerous driving. The leader of the Labour Party Ed Milliband responded as follows: “There’s no place for anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, and frankly anybody who makes those kinds of comments cannot be either a Labour lord or a Labour Member of Parliament”. With the relations between Islam and Judaism tense as it is, the labour peer is reported to have said in the TV broadcast: “My case became more critical because I went to Gaza to support Palestinians. My Jewish friends who own newspapers and TV channels opposed this.”

The day Lord Ahmed reproached me for anti-Semitism

This opinion piece by Usama Hasan is reaction and commentary on Nazir Ahmed’s alleged ‘Jewish conspiracy’ comments in a Pakistani television interview in april. This in turn is the consequence of a toxic underlying legacy of misunderstanding between the Jewish and Muslim faiths the author argues.

The piece reports of cases of anti-Semitism and its perpetrators, with the increase in its occurrence resulting from a growing far-right, with an upsurge in neo-Nazi extremism across Europe that combines both vicious anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

The author argues that what is needed now is “zero tolerance of all anti-Semitism, racism and Islamophobia, whether it comes from the far-right or Islamist extremists. We need honest and open, constructive engagement between British Muslims and Jews, including on the subject of Israel and Palestine, for which there is an increasing appetite among our communities.”

The author then concludes by stating the following:

“It is time to ditch conspiracy theories that focus on blaming the other. Far better to conspire openly to promote mutual dialogue and understanding, in the best spirit of our common humanity.”

British Peer Lord Ahmed suspended after ‘offering £10m bounty on Barack Obama and George Bush’

Lord Ahmed, 53, who in 1998 became the first Muslim life peer, was reported to have made the comments at a conference in Haripur in Pakistan.

A Labour Party spokesman said: “We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation. If these comments are accurate we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.”

According to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper Lord Ahmed offered the bounty in response to a US action a week ago.

The US issued a $10 million reward for the capture of Pakistani militant leader Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, who it suspects of orchestrating the 2008 Mumbai attacks in which 166 people died as terrorists stormed hotels and a train station.

The British peer reportedly said: “‘If the US can announce a reward of $10 million for the (capture) of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of £10 million (for the capture of) President Obama and his predecessor, George Bush.”

Lord Ahmed to be charged over fatal ‘text message’ crash

A Labour Peer is to be prosecuted after he allegedly sent a text message from his mobile telephone shortly before a fatal motorway crash, it was reported. Lord Ahmed, 51, was driving his Jaguar X-type on the M1 on Christmas Day last year when it hit an Audi A4 which had stopped in the outside lane.

The driver of the other car, Martyn Gombar, 28, was killed instantly. South Yorkshire Police are said to have confirmed that Lord Ahmed is to be summoned to appear in court in connection with dangerous driving. The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years in jail. The maximum sentence for dangerous driving is two years. The police investigation has centred on reports that Lord Ahmed’s mobile telephone had been used to send a text message to a journalist shortly before the crash. It is claimed the message was sent about three minutes before the same telephone was used to call 999. Lord Ahmed said he had not been informed of the decision to prosecute him and refused to comment on claims that he had sent a text message shortly before the accident. “Obviously I am still denying anything to do with any dangerous driving and I will speak to my lawyer,” he said. The Pakistan-born politician suffered cuts and bruises in the accident. His wife, Sakina, 49, and his mother, Rashim, suffered minor injuries. Shortly after the incident Lord Ahmed confirmed that he had been behind the wheel at the time of the crash.

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Terror law to allow 42-day detention opposed by MPs

The government is unveiling a major new package of a counter-terrorism laws, a plan that gives the right to detain terrorist suspects for upto 42 days without charge. Prime Minister Gordon Brown is understood to have outlined concessions and appealed to MPs not to inflict further damage on the Government after a series of election disasters and policy U-turns. Under long-awaited changes to the Counter-Terrorism Bill, Home Secretary Miss Smith revealed the power to detain suspects without charge would only be used in the face of a “grave, exceptional terrorist threat” to Britain. This includes the most serious offences, such as murder and conspiracy to cause explosions, but excludes lesser offences such as weapons training or terrorist financing. The threat includes situations which “cause or threaten” serious loss of life, serious damage to human welfare in the UK or serious damage to national security. The threat can exist inside or outside the UK. The 42-day detention proposal has been criticised by not only backbench Labour MPs, but also the director of public prosecutions and the former attorney general Lord Goldsmith who warned the move would be an attack on the country’s “fundamental freedoms”. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a Labour loyalist described the 42-day detention without charge will further alienate young British Muslims. Lord Ahmed criticised the Government over a U-turn on the 10p tax, on super-casino and fuel duty. Introducing this horrific measure only shows Governments intention to punish the Muslim community, he added. Sayeed Azad reports.

Britain’s first Muslim peer faces charges over text message he sent shortly before fatal car crash

Labour peer Lord Ahmed could face charges over a text message allegedly sent from his mobile phone shortly before a motorway crash in which a 28-year-old man died. He was driving his gold Jaguar X-type on the M1 on Christmas Day when he smashed into a car which had spun out of control and had come to rest in the fast lane facing the wrong way. The 50-year-old peer was badly shaken and suffered “cuts and bruises” in the accident in which his wife Sakina, 49, and his mother, who is in her mid-80s, also suffered minor injuries. Martyn Gombar, the Slovakian driver of the other car, was killed instantly. A routine police investigation into the death crash has focused on the use of his mobile phone in the minutes before Lord Ahmed used it to call the emergency services. A text was allegedly sent to a journalist friend during this period and police have been trying to establish the circumstances in which it was sent and by whom. Motorists who send texts at the wheel face being charged with causing death by dangerous driving if using the mobile is believed to have played a part in an accident in which someone is killed. The maximum sentence is 14 years. But yesterday Lord Ahmed denied committing such an offence. He said: “I would strenuously deny any allegation of death by dangerous driving, other than that I cannot comment.” South Yorkshire Police has prepared a file on the case which will shortly be sent to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider. Chris Brooke reports.

UK Muslims warned against ‘victim culture’

The Conservative peer who helped negotiate the release of the primary school teacher jailed in Sudan for allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear Mohamed attacked her fellow British Muslims today for their “victim culture”. Baroness Warsi, a Conservative spokeswoman on community cohesion, also criticised Labour for its “patronage politics” and for having encouraged the “divisive concept” of multiculturalism. Lady Warsi, 36, born to Pakistani parents in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, is the youngest member of the House of Lords. She came to public notice earlier this month when she was asked by Lord Ahmed, a Labour peer, to accompany him to Sudan to mediate the release of Gillian Gibbons, who had been jailed for insulting Islam. Philippe Naughton reports. The situation in Sudan had been extraordinary and “thankfully” could never happen in the UK, Lady Warsi told a race relations conference in London this morning.

Muslim fury grows over Rushdie knighthood

Outrage over Salman Rushdie’s knighthood threatened to ignite across the Muslim world yesterday. Security around the writer was reviewed by Scotland Yard as an Iranian group placed an _80,000 bounty on his head. The same group accused the Queen of mocking Muslims with the honour. In London, Lord Ahmed, Britain’s first Muslim peer, said he had been appalled by the award to a man he accused of having ‘blood on his hands’. In Pakistan, where effigies of the Queen and 59-year-old Rushdie were burned, a minister appeared to justify suicide bombings as a response to the knighthood.