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Thursday, 20 September, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
UK Muslims condemn 'lunatic fringe'
Rescuers scour the wreckage in New York
'Tragedy has touched the hearts of the British people'
The UK's mainstream Muslim community has publicly attacked a "tiny lunatic fringe" which has expressed controversial views on the terror attacks in the US.

Community and religious leaders say the small number of Islamic activists are endangering and embarrassing ordinary Muslims by supporting the atrocities.

They say the overwhelming majority of the two million Muslims living in the UK do not share the activist's extreme views.

These groups are endangering and embarrassing ordinary Muslims

Inayat Bunglawala
Muslim Council for Britain
Their criticism is aimed at a minority of Muslim clerics who have been widely quoted suggesting there was delight and support for what had happened in the United States.

Those views have horrified ordinary Muslims in the UK, said the spokesman for the Muslim Council for Britain, Inayat Bunglawala.

"These men are totally unrepresentative of British Muslims," he told BBC News Online.

"They have no grassroots support and could only muster a few hundred supporters out of a Muslim community of over two million in the UK.

"We must put them and their supporters into context. There are 800 mosques in Britain, which gives you an indication of how small their support is."


He said the clerics were usually viewed as "clowns" by most Muslims, but in the current atmosphere they were considered extremely dangerous.

"Usually we try to ignore these groups and hope that they hang themselves with their own rope," said Mr Bunglawala.

"But we have been forced to issue a public condemnation of them this time because they are endangering and embarrassing ordinary Muslims.

'Extremely dangerous'

"We have been receiving hate mail, mosques have been attacked and now Muslims are being physically attacked."

He urged the media to stop giving extremist groups a platform to express their views.

"No major newspaper would give the BNP as much coverage as Labour or the Conservatives," he said.

"They are getting far more coverage than they warrant."

Omar Bakri Muhammad
The activities of Omar Bakri Muhammad are being monitored
His views were backed by the principle of the Muslim College and former Imam of the London Mosque, Dr Zaki Badawi.

"These people do not represent the Muslim community," he said.

"In normal times they are just harmless lunatics but in times like these they are extremely dangerous."

A spokesman for Regents Park Mosque in west London told BBC News Online that the groups were a "very small minority".

Home Secretary David Blunkett announced this week that he is monitoring the activities of the Al Muhajiroun group. He is investigating its comments in support of the terror attacks.

He also said the vast majority of Muslims in the UK were appalled at the language used by group, fearing it could provoke a backlash against them.

The BBC's Niall Dickson
says that Muslims are struggling to come to terms with the implications of the attacks

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See also:

19 Sep 01 | UK
UK to monitor Islamic group
17 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair's balancing act
20 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Blair heads for US terror talks
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