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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 July, 2005, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Can extremism task force succeed?
Friday prayers
Senior UK Muslims have agreed to tackle terrorism "head on" at a meeting with Tony Blair.

The prime minister and opposition leaders met with 25 Muslim leaders to discuss how to prevent young people from being radicalised and how to root out extremists.

In the short-term there will be a task force set up to tackle the problem. And there are more meetings this week aimed at reaching the widest possible consensus on how to deal with terrorism in the long run.

How much has the meeting achieved? How do you think extremism can be tackled? Are you a young Muslim? What do you think of your community's leaders and do you feel adequately represented by them?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion received so far:

It will achieve nothing if we refuse to accept the cause of such despicable incidents
Concerned Londoner, London
It will achieve nothing if we refuse to accept the cause of such despicable incidents. After the London bombings, Muslims were attacked by people outside of London - their motive was one of retaliation after their fellow citizens were harmed. Consequently, to reject the fact that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan has not led these bombers to retaliate for their brethren is too delusional. Thus the way forward is simple, be just in international issues.
Concerned Londoner, London

No amount of outreach meetings or condemnations of terrorist atrocities by the government will have the slightest effect until several key foreign policy changes are initiated. British Muslims perceive their 'brothers and sisters' to be under attack or betrayed by the West and only when we address this can we defeat the terrorists.
Adam, London, UK

Our political leaders have no real understanding of religion. The extremists will only listen to the authority of the Koran and Hadith, but they seem to consult liberal leaders who are prepared to say that black is white and white is black, instead of interpreting the Koran in an honest fashion.
Timothy, N Ireland

I think that there should be a new religion set up for the type of people who commit these cowardly acts as most people agree that Muslims in general aren't to blame, it is just a very small minority who obviously have different beliefs so why not call them something different. I also don't think that their names should be made public so that they can't me made "heroes" of by other people trying to recruit more people to do these sort acts of terrorism.
Dave, Portsmouth

How can this achieve anything? True Muslims have been preaching peace for years. The extremists of any faith will not listen to any leader. They want change on their terms, not an agreement between East and West. Root them out, and bring back internment.
Ralph, Dagenham Essex

Education is needed here
Joanna, Berks
This is not just a problem connected to Iraq. Racial tensions have been around for years, and talks of one sole religion being superior to another has added indignance. Education is needed here, or severe penalties, not apologies.
Joanna, Berks

The main problem is the lack of education in the community leaders not only in Britain but also in the Third World countries, especially in Pakistan. Anyone claiming to represent Muslims in any area of the world, should first and foremost have the qualifications of these 'Imams 'before allowing them to preach. This is not the answer to the entire problem, as Muslims themselves have to ensure that they are properly educated so that they are not brainwashed by the false prophets.
Ahsan Raza, Harrow, Middlesex

These meeting will only achieve to divide Muslims further. These self-proclaimed Muslims leaders especially the MPS may have been elected by their constituency but they have no authority to represent the Muslims of the UK. While we as Muslims need to tackle 'extremism' we also need to tackle 'secular fundamentalism' which seeks to reform Islam. Following the correct teachings of Islam will automatically give us the right balance.
Ammer Amin, London, UK

I thought the leader of the Muslims in Britain was the Prime Minister, or are the Muslims different to the rest of us who call ourselves 'British'? This highlights the fundamental problem in our divided society.
Neil, Dorset

I think it is the responsibility of the Muslim parents to educate their children about the true spirit of the religion. Parents should be aware of the activities of their young children and the company they keep.
Basit Amjad, Borehamwood

There is a fundamental error in the way the government is choosing to consider this issue. There is no "Muslim community" anywhere in the world. UK Muslims belong to a number of different factions based on country of origin, sect etc. It is as much a single group with representative leaders as the "European community". The Muslim leaders are all self appointed and do not speak with a single voice.
Cliff Davis, Birmingham, UK

Communities cannot be held responsible for a individual criminal act. Innocent Muslims were killed in attacks, targeted by backlash, and blamed for attacks. We refuse to be victimised. We, as other communities, can only speculate as to why the incident occurred. Irresponsible reporting of Thursday will have a direct impact on the safety of all communities, and will divert police resources.
Zuber Karim, Dundee

I was born, bred and educated in the UK. Throughout my life I have had several labels, "Paki", Muslim, ethnic minority, disadvantaged and so on. Very, very rarely have others called me British. You become what you are classed as. If we now start calling British Muslims "radicals, extremists, enemy within, etc" this is what some will become. Be very careful regarding how you/we label others.
Mohammed Shabbir, Manchester, UK

There was no apparent anger when Saddam was also killing Iraqi people
Graham Hart, Stourbridge
I can understand the anger of many Muslims at the killing of civilians in Iraq. What I cannot understand is why there was no apparent anger when Saddam was also killing Iraqi people.
Graham Hart, Stourbridge

I have met very good Muslims who left good impressions on me and that is why I believe there is another message in Islam worth listening to other than hate, sorrow, tears and blood. There are only two categories of people on earth, no matter their colour or origin. You are either a good person or a bad person. As long as the good teachers of any faith allow the bad teachers to remain visible and vocal, evil will continue to be the lot of mankind.
Ernest Opara, Lagos, Nigeria

I appreciate what's being done my the elderly Muslim members of the community, in providing a voice and clear message for both the media and the public in condemning terrorism. It's not totally true to suggest that they have no respect among the Muslim youth - if only out of sentimentalism. But what I find to be incredibly angering among so-called youth representatives is their constant emphasis on foreign policy as a reason for the bombings. While I'm not in favour of the war in Iraq, someday has to make people realise that these extremists would find any reason to carry out attacks - if foreign policy was to change overnight, would these bombings stop? I think not.
Hanifa, London

Being married to a Muslim and having an understanding of the religion I see Muslims as being horrified by the events of nearly two weeks just as any British person. I think it not a case of talking more but more as case of integration needed within local communities, Islam does get a bad press and so do those who follow it, my husband is a respected doctor and all my friends see Islam through him as he is their only contact with the faith. I think the media needs to portray Islam better and not sensationalise it, it is after all a faith that teaches peace. I would challenge all to read the Koran and see exactly what it says before deploring the faith as full of extremists and bomb makers. I pray the conference is able to do some good.
Dawn Safa"ei, Southend, Essex

Why don't the elders of the Muslim community accept that they have no control over the Muslim youth anymore? They think that they can have a culture here mirrored to what they had in Pakistan or India will work and the youth will listen to them. Not anymore, we have grown tired of them, they must encourage us to integrate with society and treat other faiths and cultures with respect.
Nik Khan, London

We need to raise the profile of the moderates and the silent majority of Muslims who are good peaceful people
Nick, UK
This could potentially achieve a great deal. I also see that it has been said that he should consider meeting extremists. Meeting them will only give their cause legitimacy. We need to raise the profile of the moderates and the silent majority of Muslims who are good peaceful people but are rarely heard. If this meeting does this then it can only be a good thing.
Nick, UK

This meeting will be perceived by most ordinary people as another attempt to assuage the unreasonable feelings of victimisation felt by a community that has done far too little far too late to tackle the problem of extremism in its midst. With Margaret Hodge already giving clear signs that the government will now encourage positive discrimination on behalf of Muslim graduates, it seems abundantly clear that this administration does not have the political backbone to tell Muslims to put their own house in order, and is determined to continue with its failed policies of appeasement to the detriment of us all.
Eugene, London

I think little will be achieved until British Muslims stop thinking of themselves in such terms. I have lived in several countries and have never found I needed to refer to myself as a British Christian, British Buddhist, British Atheist, or whatever. One's religion is a private matter. To live here one must be British first, and one's religion is a secondary matter. One can disagree with one's country's foreign policies without attacking from within.
Peter, Cambridge

Listening to various interviews and items on Radio and TV in the last few days, it appears that a lot of Muslims, both senior and "on the street" are in denial. There's talk of finding the "underlying reasons" for the attacks, that they were duped into doing the bombing etc, etc. Until the Muslim community has the courage to face up to the facts, then no amount of meetings will do any good.
Neil, Worcester

I have the feeling that this meeting will change nothing. There needs to be big changes in the heart of the community not the leaders who are clearly out of touch. It also needs to be said that the British and Americans are not killing large numbers of Iraqi civilians, the vast majority of deaths are Muslims killing Muslims via suicide/car bombs.
Rob, Coventry

The Muslim community has to take its religion from the extremists and back to its core values
Howard, London
I would like to praise Saadia for having the courage to present some uncomfortable truths to the Muslim community. Anyone with the slightest knowledge of Islam knows that it is a religion of tolerance, respect and peace. The Muslim community has to take its religion from the extremists and back to its core values. I hope that this meeting is the first step in this process. However, there has to be compromise and tolerance all round. Anyone who attacks Muslims simply because they are Muslims is doing the terrorists dirty work for them.
Howard, London

Sadly I think it's unlikely that the meeting is likely to achieve much beyond creating the false appearance of a unified front and further unfairly stigmatising minority communities.
David, Scotland

I am a young Muslim and the way that these extremists see is an eye for an eye. They see the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine and it angers them, and they see that the very reason of that violence is the US and Britain, so they decide to exact revenge. Until the US and Britain deal with the situations they have created, you will always get young teenage Muslims who are susceptible to radical ideas.
Sam, Nottingham

We all have one prime minister who is democratically elected. Muslim leaders are self appointed - I don't listen to what the Archbishop of Canterbury says, so why should young extremist Muslims listen to these self appointed leaders?
Tom, Ipswich

We must understand what motivates these young suicide bombers
Teena, England
Let's hope Blair will try to understand how Muslims think, and what motivates them, especially towards extremism. One of the reasons the Iraq war came about was because of Bush not understanding Saddam Hussein's need to maintain face with his people. We must understand what motivates these young suicide bombers - once we know that, we can then talk about how to deal with it.
Teena, England

This meeting is very important due to the nature of what happened, the people involved and where they came from. However, we cannot simply focus all our attention on the Muslim community using simplistic terms such as 'disaffected youth' to explain away their actions. The foreign policies of our governments (USA & UK), have a lot to answer for.
Gary Rossell, London

Talks with religious leaders are futile. These are people with little influence over any community, let alone the extremists, to whom they are quite simply irrelevant.
Barney, Reading, UK

Hope it will achieve all it aims too, but the sad fact is most of those round the table will be very out of touch with what these extremists are preaching. A better education campaign aimed towards the youth with the enforcement of these people may work better. Schools, colleges, universities and educators need to step in and find out what young adults and children are thinking and feeling. We need to find answers to why, a very small number of Muslims born in this country feel they need to support extremists? And not just Muslims, this should be opened out to all faiths and races.
Kiran, Bristol, UK

Meetings such as this show the terrorists that we will not be divided
Nik Taylor, Brighton
It's all about the message that's sent out by such a meeting. The terrorists are seeking to divide our society along racial, cultural and religious lines. They think committing atrocities will make Muslims into outcasts and therefore more susceptible to their messages of hatred. But meetings such as this show that ordinary Muslims are not considered to blame by the rest of the British public and show the terrorists that we will not be divided.
Nik Taylor, Brighton

Being a young Muslim woman I have never listened to one of these so called Muslim leaders. Had they been good leaders we would see educated youngsters, better relations between the Muslim community and other UK communities and no extremism. The extremist problem is among the youngsters and our elderly don't have enough power or respect to tackle them. A young educated Muslim group should be formed because the extremists will be able to relate more to them and learn.
Riya Suhail, London

I don't think anything will be achieved because the Muslim leadership like our own establishment is out of touch with the way young people feel in this country.
Adam, Manchester

Precious little. If young Muslims living in our affluent and freedom loving society have been unable to appreciate the benefits that rejecting extremism brings, I doubt a selection of well meaning platitudes from self appointed community leaders whom the radicals have no respect for will change a thing.
Tom, London

Muslim leaders find themselves in a difficult position
Phil, Newcastle
It will achieve nothing, other than a photo call. Muslim leaders find themselves in a difficult position - on one hand feeling disgust at the situations in Iraq and Israel, and on the other having to cosy up to the very people who perpetrate this violence.
Phil, Newcastle

I think this meeting is crucial if we are to have any chance of stopping further atrocities like the London bombings. It is clear that 99.999% of British Muslims are opposed to the actions advocated by the 0.001% who may be considered extremist. If the government, the police and the non-Muslim community are able to work and stand shoulder to shoulder, with this vast majority then those who seek to destroy our society will have no place to hide.
Nick, London

I am a young Muslim and think that the community leaders should teach young people more about what we believe about war because the only people that young people learn things on this subject from are radicals. I think that community leaders like Iqbal Sacranie are doing well in condemning the bombings but now they should educate young people what Islam teaches us about war - how killing of innocent people in any circumstance is against our religion and what we should do in a democracy to express our anger and sadness at the war in Iraq and the conflict in Palestine.
Hasan, Bradford

I can't see how the UK's top Muslims meeting with the prime minister can help reduce the tension between the small minded few and the Muslim community. With recent events adding to the racial tensions which already exist in the UK it is not the top few who will help, but the education of today's youth that will prevent problems in the future.
Ryan, Cardiff, Wales

Rogue imams are not the only factor in this
John, UK
There should be a discussion and statement regarding the role of some sections of the mainstream media, their war on Bush/America and the effect this has on 'radicalising' young people. Claims that civilians were being slaughtered in Fallujah or constant repetition of the Abu Ghraib pictures have enormous effect in angering young Muslims. Rogue imams are not the only factor in this.
John, UK

There is nothing inherently wrong with being 'radical' or 'extreme' as long as, by trying to effect change, you don't resort to criminal activity, for example, violent direct action. The same goes for any group, like animal rights activists. We should be very proud of this libertarian tradition and other cultures that make up our community must absolutely respect it too.
MK, England

I do not expect great miracles to happen from this meeting. However, it could be the first snowflake in the snowball that is needed to resolve this problem. The problem is not only Muslim youth but the reluctance of the parents to let go, even a little bit, of their children into our culture.
Glenn Wornell, Frankfurt Main, Germany

The senior leaders do not represent me or my family who have been in England since the late 1950s. My parents adapted to the British way of life from the very start. There were no separate schools for us, no ghetto like replicas of their village back home, no staying stuck in the past, no arranging marriages for us children back in Pakistan. Perhaps some of the Muslim community need to re-think why they moved to England. If it was to maintain the lifestyle they had back home or to dictate to the host country what they want to the exclusion of the majority, then they need to go back. Extremism can be tackled only when the Muslim community stop feeling they are being victimised when in fact they chose to live this way.
Saadia, St Albans

I think that Saadia, St Albans should attend the meeting, at least then there'd be one person with some common sense. I agree that the self-imposed segregation of Islamic communities from mainstream society is at least a catalyst (if not a root cause) for the hatred festering in the minds of some young Muslims.
Anon, Oxon, UK

I can't see what can be achieved by this meeting
Rakesh, Warwickshire
I can't see what can be achieved by this meeting. By their own admission, the Muslim community is as surprised as the rest of the country that Britain could produce their own home grown suicide bombers. Tony Blair is meeting with the very people that have no idea what a small minority within their own community is capable of.
Rakesh, Warwickshire

The community leaders should be more active in guiding young Muslims. The misinterpretation of Islam by the Middle East is on the rise and we all should tackle this nuisance, Muslims are not interested in backing these fanatics. The younger generation should help point out anyone who is trying to brainwash innocent young Muslim men.
Tahir Razvi, Baku, Azerbaijan


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