There has been a mixed response inside and outside Muslim circles in Britain to Prime Minister Tony Blair’s call for educationists and the media to recognise the _true face’ of Islam, and for Muslims themselves to speak out against extremism. Mr Blair, as part of his _farewell tour’, was on the programme alongside senior academic and faith leaders at a conference organised by the University of Cambridge (and held at Lancaster House, London) on the global role of Islam. The gathering opened with a video message from the Prince of Wales, and included a reception hosted by Gordon Brown. Tory leader David Cameron also spoke, having been asked to do so by Mr Blair, and so did the Anglican Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres. Also involved were Shaykh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, and Mufti Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, along with Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies at the University of Glasgow, and Communities minister (and prominent Roman Catholic laywoman) Ruth Kelly.
The decision by the UK government in august to ban the party along with the group Al Mouhadjiroun was declared an attempt to eliminate political opinions in the Muslim community by Imran Waheed, the leader of the party in Great Britain. The calls came at a meeting of 800 people in London. The group promised to fight the ban. Le Hizb-Ut-Tahrir Accuse Blair De Censurer Les Musulmans Le Hizb ut-Tahrir, un parti islamiste en ligne de mire _ Londres depuis les attentats du 7 juillet et menac_ d’interdiction a accus_ Tony Blair dimanche de vouloir censurer la communaut_ musulmane britannique en la privant de son droit d’expression. La d_cision annonc_e par le Premier ministre britannique le 5 ao_t d’interdire le Hizb ut-Tahrir et le groupe Al Mouhadjiroun est “un mouvement destin_ _ interdire toute opinion politique au sein de la communaut_ musulmane”, a estim_ dimanche Imran Waheed, le leader de ce parti en Grande-Bretagne, lors d’un meeting r_unissant pr_s de 800 personnes au centre de Londres. “Il s’agirait d’une s_rieuse erreur” a insist_ M. Waheed, pr_cisant que le Hizb ut-Tahrir entendait “poursuivre toutes les voies l_gales” pour lutter contre cette interdiction et s’estimant “confiant” dans l’issue de ce combat. Le 5 ao_t, dans un discours marquant un net changement de ton par rapport au “Londonistan”, le label attribu_ aux militants islamistes extr_mistes install_s dans la capitale britannique depuis des ann_es, Tony Blair avait annonc_ un “changement des r_gles du jeu”. Il avait notamment annonc_ son intention de faire interdire le Hizb ut- Tahrir et l’organisation Al Mouhadjiroun. Fond_ en 1953 par un religieux palestinien de J_rusalem, Takieddine al-Nabahani, le Hizb ut-Tahrir ou Parti de la lib_ration islamique (PLI) s’est d_velopp_ dans plusieurs pays arabes et est la plus active des formations islamistes radicales en Asie centrale. Sa branche britannique a _t_ dirig_e jusqu’en 1996 par cheikh Omar Bakri, avant que celui-ci parte pour divergences d’opinion et cr?_ Al Mouhadjiroun. R_affirmant la totale opposition du Hizb ut-Tahrir _ la violence et au terrorisme, Imran Waheed a soulign_ dimanche que son parti avait condamn_ les attentats du 11 septembre 2001 _ New York, comme ceux du 11 mars 2004 _ Madrid et du 7 juillet 2005 _ Londres. Lors de son meeting dimanche, le Hizb ut-Tahrir a _galement tent_ d’expliquer en quoi “un Califat islamique serait le seul Etat capable de s’opposer aux injustices de l’imp_rialisme et du capitalisme global” dans le monde musulman. Selon la d_finition de Imran Waheed, le Califat serait un r_gime politique diff_rent des d_mocraties occidentales en ce sens que ce r_gime ne permettrait pas “aux politiques publiques d’_tre influenc_es ou dirig_es par les _lites du monde des affaires ou les multinationales”. Imran Waheed a insist_ sur le fait que le PLI n’avait aucune intention d’imposer le Califat en occident.
LONDON – Ninety-five percent of Muslim students are unhappy with British foreign policy, particularly on Iraq, and 66 percent feel it contributed to the London bombings, an opinion poll released on Wednesday said. Half of respondents to the poll for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies said they had experienced Islamophobia, and nine out of 10 objected to the way Muslims were portrayed in the media. The figures were based on feedback from 250 students, with 500 responses expected by next week. Federation president Wakkas Khan said the results undermined Prime Minister Tony Blair’s assertion that the London bombings were unrelated to his decision to take Britain into the Iraq conflict. It is important now for Mr Blair to accept that foreign policy is a serious concern and to start to do something about it rather than being seen to brush it aside, he said. Fifty-six people were killed, including four apparent suicide bombers, when three Underground trains and a double-decker bus were targeted on July 7 in the worst terrorist attack ever on British soil. Three people have been charged with attempted murder, and a fourth is awaiting extradition from Italy, in connection with a failed attempt on July 21 to repeat the attack.
By ANDREW WOODCOCK BRITAIN’S ethnic minority communities might be given new names in an effort to strengthen their ties to this country. Home Office minister Hazel Blears is to ask representatives of Muslim and other minorities whether they would prefer to be known by US-style hyphenated terms such as Asian-British, Pakistani-British or Indian-British, rather than simply ‘Asians’. The idea is one of a set of proposals to be floated at meetings that Ms Blears is holding around the country to discuss how to steer young Muslims away from radicalism. Ms Blears – appointed head of a new Government commission on integrating minorities by Prime Minister Tony Blair – said today: “In America, they do seem to have the idea that you’re an Italian-American or you’re an Irish-American, and that’s quite interesting. “I am going to talk to people and ask ‘how does that feel?’ It is about your identity and I think it’s really important.” She added: “If you want a society that is really welded together, there are certain things that unite us because you are British, but you can be a bit different too.” The proposal is seen as an indication that the Government is considering claims that some second-generation Asians find it difficult to identify with Britain or the country of their roots. Mrs Blears was backed by the Commission for Racial Equality but it also warned of problems ahead. A spokesman said: “She’s hit the nail on the head when she says it’s about how people feel and refer to themselves. “But one person might be happy being classified as one thing and someone of the same race or religion might not.” Muslim groups also responded with caution to the idea, while Conservatives branded it “fatuous”. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “What of the second generations? Why should they be defined as other than British? “These forms of identity based on ethnic background have been tried in the past and have failed.” And Ghayasuddin Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament said: “Nobody cares for labels. We have to create a stakeholding society and an inclusive society.” Shadow home affairs spokesman Edward Garnier said: “This is a fatuous idea. “I’ve got a growing number of Asian British people in my constituency. They think of themselves as British. They don’t need a Government minister to tell them how to describe themselves.” And Greg Mulholland, the Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West, where the July 7 bombs were created, said a rebranding exercise would “not be remotely helpful”. “I think it’s another gimmick. I’m afraid we need some rather more intelligent and far-reaching solutions.” Councillor Shami Khan, a leading member of Edinburgh’s Pakistan community, said the proposals might go some way towards helping to integrate migrants into the community. He added: “We have to keep our culture but, at the end of the day, by coming here, people are accepting the British way of life and must adopt a British value and must have a respect for that citizenship. “I think this is a good idea and if you call people from South East Asia “British-Asian” that’s okay. I feel Scottish-Asian and I have a loyalty to Britain. “But what we really need to do is to teach people about citizenship and loyalty to this country.”
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.
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.
Up to 2000 people from more than 50 Islamic organisations in Britain have demonstrated in London to condemn what they called heavy-handed procedures in the fight against global terrorism. “The basic message is that the Muslim community wants to voice its opposition to what it views as the oppression of the war on terror,” said Imran Wahid of Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of the groups behind the protest march. He said Muslims were angered by so-called control orders imposed by the British authorities on terrorism suspects, and by the US detention of terrorism suspects without trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There were no incidents as the protesters – led by a banner reading United Against the Oppression of War on Terror – made their way to Paddington Green police station in west London, where terrorism suspects are questioned. “It is kind of symbolic because a lot of people are taken there and released without charge a couple of days later,” Wahid said. The march occurred five days before a general election in Britain which Prime Minister Tony Blair hopes will give his Labour Party a third straight term in office.
The word “ethnic” is misused in the article below. We talk about metropolitan districts with large “ethnic communities”. The Guardian style guide says: “Neversay ethnic when you mean ethnic minority. It leads to such nonsense as the constituency has a small ethnic population.” Tony Blair’s hopes of patching up relations with the Muslim community have been dealt a fresh blow by a leading Islamic organisation which is urging its members not to vote Labour at next week’s European elections.
Islamic leaders sceptical about scheme to discourage support for al-Qaida by vetting radical imams and assisting moderates By Hugh Muir Secret government plans designed to win the “hearts and minds” of young Muslims and dissuade the vulnerable from resorting to terrorism were strongly criticised by community organisations yesterday. Tony Blair has assembled a group of senior civil servants from nine Whitehall departments to work on a project, codenamed Contest, aimed at the 10,000 young Muslims whom officials fear may be sympathetic to al-Qaida. The project, details of which were revealed yesterday in cabinet documents leaked to the Sunday Times, would lead to an unprecedented level of government intervention in the political and religious practices of Muslim communities.
Liberal Democrats will have for the first time a Muslim, and that a woman, in the Parliament, reports The Muslim News. Mrs Kishwer Falkner, 49, was selected among 46 new working peers appointed today to the House of Lords. The list, approved by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, included no Muslims selected for peerages by either the Labour Party or the Conservatives. None of the seven new independents are Muslim. Falkner said that she was “honoured and delighted to take up this new role”. “I see this as a recognition of the contribution that so many immigrants make to life in Britain. I look forward to be a voice for diversity in the House of Lords,” she told The Muslim News.