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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 April 2005, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
'Muslims should be active 24/7'
By Joe Boyle
BBC News

Weathermen predicted sunshine and 20C temperatures for Saturday's Muslim protest in London against anti-terror legislation. Organisers predicted thousands of people would join in.

Muslim crowds at Marble Arch
Hundreds of people gathered at Marble Arch

In the end an overcast and, at best, mild day attracted hundreds of placard-waving demonstrators to Marble Arch in central London. But the lower than expected turnout did nothing to dampen the spirits of the organisers.

"There aren't as many people here as the anti-war march, but remember, numbers are not what matters," the first speaker told the crowd.

It is enough, they were told, that they are taking action. It was a point Nurul Amin, a social services worker from Manor House, north London, had already made.

He said: "People think that once every four or five years they put a cross in a box and they are going to change things.

"But as a Muslim in this society, we should be active 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and not just rely on the government."

Disillusionment

Mr Amin's disillusionment with the ballot box is something he shares with many at the march. Romiz Uddin, 30, an NHS worker who attends the same east London mosque as Mr Amin, feels let down by the whole political system.

Nurul Amin (l) and Romiz Uddin (r)
Nurul Amin (l) said Muslims should be constantly active

"None of the main parties are offering any solutions for Muslims - they all have the same agenda," he said.

But more than anything, this protest is about anti-terrorism legislation which many Muslims feel victimises them.

Razaun Karim, a regeneration manager from Whitechapel, east London, said he feels UK Muslims are being used as "scapegoats".

He feels particularly embittered at the stop-and-search policies of the police. "Are we meant to just accept the fact that Muslims are being stopped and searched so much more than anyone else?"

That said, there were just a handful of police at the demonstration, chatting with smiling stewards from the Hizb ut-Tahrir political party, which organised the demonstration.

Razaun Karim
Razaun Karim said the anti-terror laws should be scrapped

Slogans on the placards - "War on terror is a war on Islam" and "Muslim community stands against UK state terror" - seemed incongruous with the friendly atmosphere.

But the disenchantment of a large number in the gathered crowd was plain to see.

Mr Karim likened the plight of UK Muslims in the 21st century to Catholics in Northern Ireland during the internment era of the 1970s and 80s.





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