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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
UK Muslims fear revenge attacks
Rescue workers among the rubble
Manzoor Moghal: "Like a thunderbolt had descended"
Muslims in the UK fear becoming the targets of revenge attacks as suspicion grows that Osama Bin Laden was behind the terrorist outrages waged on the United States.

Manzoor Moghal, the Leicester-based chairman of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, gave BBC News Online his view of events.

What was your reaction to the news of the attacks?

My first reaction was one of great horror and shock. I was thunderstruck that such a thing had happened in US and at the scale that was being described.

Before we condemn Muslims, we need proof to who committed this crime

It was beyond human conception that this could even have happened. As I learned of developments, my shock and trauma deepened.

I knew immediately that this would transform the world and the world would turn upside down. It would have a long-term effect on the Muslim world.

My heart went out to those who had suffered in this tragedy and to the families who had lost dear ones. It was a moment of great grief for me.

What were you doing at the time?

I was working in my office and a friend called as the news came on the TV.

Osama Bin Laden
Bin Laden: Main suspect
I listened in disbelief and spent the rest of the day keeping in touch with people and talking to journalists.

I talked to fellow Muslims to reassure them, considering all the trouble with rioting and racial tension in the north of England not long ago.

Of course, I was worried it might aggravate the situation here.

The prime minister has reassured the Muslim community and we (the Muslim federation) are supporting the government on this.

What are Muslim groups in the UK saying?

First, we want the government to ensure the safety and protection of people in this country.

Not just the Muslim community but everyone. We, as a community, couldn't believe or imagine that such a thing was possible.

The Islam religion does not condone such an atrocity

It was truly like a thunderbolt had descended on us. It was bewildering and it drove home that we are living in a very dangerous period. We simply don't know what might happen next.

The US is talking about reprisals on a massive scale. I can only pray that the matter is resolved and defused.

It was an act of utter madness. The question is: "How you bring an end to such mind-boggling madness?"

Are there some in the Muslim community who agree with what has happened in the US?

The Islam religion does not condone such an atrocity. Nor does it condone violence, murder or assassination. Islam calls for submission to the will of God and calls for peace at all times.

World Trade Centre on fire
Too many people malign Muslims and their faith.

Before we condemn Muslims, we need proof as to who committed this crime. We don't want to jump the gun and pillory and attack Muslims everywhere.

Remember that in the Oklahoma City bombing, people jumped to a conclusion that was a Muslim group that was responsible. That wasn't the case.

We have to wait and see the evidence before we attack the Muslim world.

There have been reports of threats to Muslims in Britain. Are you afraid or do you think Muslims in Britain are afraid?

Yes, Muslims are afraid. I urge people all over the country to be careful because we will be under threat from people with racist feelings.

It may mean race relations will take a nosedive and I fear for race relations in Leicester and other parts of the country. It will change perceptions people have of Muslims because people will be affected by what they hear and see on TV.

They will blame Muslims and the damage will be done. Muslims support the government of this county.

We are behind them and we have no truck with whatever group has done this horrible act.

I condemn and denounce this chilling action.

If you are a Muslim living in Britain who fears or has faced reprisals following the terrorist attacks in the United States, use the form below to send us your comments.

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See also:

13 Sep 01 | Americas
US rescue hopes fade
13 Sep 01 | UK
Police seize riot suspects
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