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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 April, 2004, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
UK Muslims urged to fight terror
Birmingham Central Mosque
Sermons will be delivered, saying terrorism has no place in Islam
The Muslim Council of Britain has taken the unprecedented step of writing to every mosque, urging people to help in the fight against terror.

The letter asks for the "utmost vigilance" to help "safeguard" the UK.

Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the move saying it made clear that terrorism "has nothing to do with the true message of Islam".

It comes after half a ton of ammonium nitrate fertiliser - a bomb-making ingredient - was seized in London.

Police have now been granted a further three days to question the eight men arrested during the same anti-terror operation across the south-east of England on Tuesday.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens urged UK Muslims to help in the fight against terror.

Speaking at the Muslim News Awards ceremony in London he promised support and appealed for help in stopping any future attacks.

He said: "We rely on you to report anything you see or hear or that you might feel is suspicious.

"But equally we want you tell us about any instances of Islamaphobia."

First of all, it's a message urging Muslims not to get downhearted - they're under massive pressure
Inayat Bunglawala

Mr Blair, speaking in the House of Commons, thanked Britain's police and security services for their work.

"As we have said, the UK and its interests abroad remain a terrorist target and the government and the services will continue to do all we can to fight terrorism in every way."

He said the threat "affects every family in this country, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, and it is right that we all work together to defeat this threat and do not allow the extremists to divide us".

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the government must improve its relations with British Muslims.

In a video message to the Muslim News awards, Mr Straw said: "It is more important than ever before that we in government build a close relationship and dialogue with Muslim communities."

'Muslim backlash'

Muslim Council Spokesman Inayat Bunglawala said the decision to send the letter was made following the Madrid rail bombings of 11 March which left 191 dead. It was then redrafted to take Tuesday's arrests into account.

It calls on Muslims to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.

Inayat Bunglawala
A terrorist attack will not discriminate between Muslims and Christians
Inayat Bunglawala

"Islam categorically forbids violence and killing of innocents, let alone indulging in violence which can cause death and mayhem," it states.

Mr Bunglawala told BBC News Online: "It's also a message urging Muslims not to get downhearted - they're under massive pressure. They must be worried about recent events.

"We're seeing a backlash against Muslims but Muslims must not lose heart."

Sermons will be delivered on Friday saying terrorism has no place in Islam, while booklets being printed will remind Muslims of their obligation to help safeguard Britain's security.

"A terrorist attack will not discriminate between Muslims and Christians", Mr Bunglawala said.

"As British citizens, we have a right to help the safeguarding of this country by co-operating with police."

However he also urged caution because a number of "high-profile arrests in the past of Muslims" had led to no charges or convictions.

The police have to be very sensitive and ensure that they have the evidence otherwise it will be counter-productive
Ahmed Versi

The men arrested were aged between 17 and 32 and are thought to be UK citizens of Pakistani descent.

The family of a number of the suspects insist the men have done nothing wrong.

Ahmad Khan, 18, Omar Khyam, 22, and a 17-year-old youth, were arrested in Crawley, West Sussex.

Ansar Khan, father of Ahmad and uncle of Omar, said there was "absolutely no truth" in the allegations against them.

They are being held at the high security Paddington Green police station in London.

Your comments

Anything short of outright and voluble condemnation of terrorism constitutes ambivalence
Matt, Dubai, UAE
This is crunch time for the Muslim "community" in the UK. Anything short of outright and voluble condemnation of terrorism constitutes ambivalence. It is time for the much-vaunted but rarely seen "moderate majority" to demonstrate its investment in British society, and the heritage of liberality and freedom which has made the country so attractive to waves of economic migrants over the last half century.
Matt, Dubai, UAE

Why is it that when you think 'terrorism' it has to be automatically linked with Muslims? Is it because of the way Bush and Blair portray it to the world?
Mohammed, London

Working with Muslim youngsters, it is clear to me that there is a deep vein of 'radicalism' within their religion. They separate themselves from their peers and their behaviour borders on arrogance and ignorance. They must realise that they will be treated with distrust and scepticism until they actively integrate themselves into the mainstream British community
Chris, Birmingham

The MCB should spend more of its time trying to change the media's prejudiced portrayal of Muslims and Islam
Jonathan Marshall, Oxford
While all Muslims of course condemn terrorism in all its form we should not forget the role of the media in shaping peoples perceptions. The constant and inaccurate references to 'Islamic' or 'Muslim' terrorists risks demonising and alienating the Muslim ummah (community) worldwide as a whole. The MCB should spend more of its time trying to change the media's prejudiced portrayal of Muslims and Islam rather the patronising the Muslim community of this country which it claims to, but does not, represent.
Jonathan Marshall, Oxford

The first positive step towards a peaceful solution.
Paul Brown, Reading, UK

Despite the MCB denouncing terrorism, Muslims have always given the impression of being equivocal about terrorism. This maybe a reflection of Islam's lack of hierarchy which is both a strength and a weakness.
Steve A, UK

I am very disappointed, by the activities of these fringe elements to undermine the hard fought and gained cultural tolerance in this country. Not only is it every Muslim's duty to watch their community's activities but we all have to be vigilant and pull together. A bomb in a big city does not discriminate religion.
Siltanu, London

Credit must go to the MCB for this move. It is not easy for the law-abiding Muslim majority in this climate of Islamic terrorism. However this sort of action is just the sort of thing that will reassure the general public that the Muslim community is also doing all it can to combat terrorism. This in turn will help make the Muslim community as a whole feel less persecuted.
Richard, London

It shows to the rest of the country we don't agree with terrorism
Khalid Hashmi, Luton, Bedfordshire
I am a Muslim and I consider myself to be a mix of the East and West culture. This can mean at times I feel ousted by both sides and fall right in the middle into no-man's land. Regardless of this predicament I will always say what I consider to be right and fair. I am pleased to hear the Muslim Council of Britain has taken the unprecedented step of making an authoritative voice across Britain. I believe strong, sensible and single leadership for Muslims is what is lacking. In this event it shows to the rest of the country we don't agree with terrorism.
Khalid Hashmi, Luton, Bedfordshire

An excellent move by the Muslim community. But why has it taken so long for such action to be taken? Nevertheless, it is a positive move that should be applauded.
PG, Belgium

Those who carryout such atrocity in our society are not religious people. In Islam, Christianity or any other faith killing is totally forbidden. If any person commits an act of terrorism they are outside and against their faith and should not be branded with the religion. The holy Koran clearly states "If you kill an innocent man, it is as though you have killed the entire humanity".
Saleem Haque, Liverpool, England

This letter by the Muslim Council is a wonderful step and will do much to repair community relations. There is a problem in this country. It is a problem for all communities and the Muslim community should be applauded here for finally taking action and not setting itself apart.
Andrew Williams, St Albans

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"The police are doing all they can to keep the Muslim community on their side"

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