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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Muslim community targets racial tension
Smoke still rising in New York
British Muslims have condemned the terror attacks
Civic leaders and Asian community representatives are meeting in Manchester to discuss the growing racial anger there.

Since last week's terror attacks in the US there has been an increase in assaults on Muslims.

Racial tension has been high in the north west of England since several nights of racial violence in Oldham and Burnley, in May and June.

Islam is a faith of peace and tranquillity

Khan Mogul
Muslim Council for Community Relations
Prime Minister Tony Blair has already warned that revenge attacks on Muslims in Britain will not be tolerated.

Khan Mogul, chief executive of the Muslim Council for Community Relations, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme a distinction had to be made between "fundamentalists" and extremists in the reporting of the terrorist attacks on the US.

He said that while fundamentalists are those who believe in the fundamentals of their religion, extremists wanted to impose their views on others.

"That has created a mindset within the West that demonises all Muslims, which is not true.

Manchester town hall
Manchester's community leaders will discuss racial tensions
"In Manchester we are trying to get all people together, the civic leadership in Manchester, the representatives from different faith groups to say we, the communities, are together in this.

"We do not see Islam as a threat to us. Islam is a faith of peace and tranquillity," he said.

But concern has mounted after a number of attacks on the Muslim community.

Revenge attacks

An Afghan taxi driver has been left paralysed after an attack in London.

Three men have been arrested in connection with the assault.

And in Swindon a young Asian woman was repeatedly hit over the head with a baseball bat in what is believed to have been an attack connected with anger over events in the US.

Meanwhile in Greater Manchester there has been a suspect blaze at a Bolton mosque and graffiti attacks on other mosques.

Mr Blair has warned that Muslims must not be blamed for the terror attacks on America.

In an article for Tuesday's Daily Jang, a London-based newspaper for the Asian community, he wrote that the attacks on America were acts of despicable cruelty which "are, I know, wholly contrary to the Islamic faith as Muslim leaders and clerics here in Britain have made clear".

Condolences offered

Mr Mogul said Muslims extended their condolences to the victims who had lost their lives in America.

As for religious extremists, he said: "They are not acceptable within our society. They are extremists.

"They do not tolerate anybody else.

They are not acceptable within our society. They are extremists. They do not tolerate anybody else.

Khan Mogul
Greater Manchester itself was beset by racial tension in May and June.

But Mr Mogul said that, just as only a minority had taken part in the summer riots in the north-west, so too it was only a minority who did not share in the condemnation of the US attacks.

Elsewhere in the region community leaders are meeting politicians in Oldham for a conference on Wednesday to discuss the racial tensions that already existed in the area prior to last Tuesday's attack.

The town was the scene of riots in May this year.

The Margaret Gilmore
reports on the concern over extremist Muslim groups operating in Britain
Khan Moghal, Manchester Council Community Relations
"Islam is a faith of peace and tranquillity"
See also:

18 Sep 01 | UK
Arrests over Afghan attack
29 Jun 01 | UK Politics
National Front targets Oldham
15 Jun 01 | UK Politics
'No no-go areas in Oldham'
27 Jul 01 | UK
Trouble erupts in Oldham
19 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair steps up anti-terror talks
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