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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 August 2005, 19:37 GMT 20:37 UK
Muslim media image 'must change'
London Mayor Ken Livingstone
Ken Livingstone said young people were vital in beating terrorism
A "rising tide of Islamophobia" in the media must be challenged by Muslim students, the Mayor of London has said.

Some newspapers depicted refugees as bringing crime and disease into the UK, Ken Livingstone told a Federation of Student Islamic Societies conference.

Fosis said about 90% of the 250 UK Muslim students it asked thought the media image of Muslims needs to change.

Its survey also found 95% were unhappy with British foreign policy, with Iraq being the main reason mentioned.

'Conflict areas'

Mr Livingstone compared the reporting of Muslims in contemporary Britain to the way the flight of Jews from Russia had been covered 100 years ago.

He said both had been attacked, despite coming from "areas of conflict or places of oppression".

It is important now for Mr Blair to accept that foreign policy is a serious concern and to start to do something about it
Wakkas Khan

Some newspapers, he said, have decided that in order to sell copies "it doesn't matter what the origin of your victim is, so long as you can stir up fear in the host country".

It is the second time in recent months that Mr Livingstone has found himself at odds with sections of the British press.

On Tuesday he was told he must face a disciplinary hearing that could ban him from office for five years, if it rules against him, over comments made to a Jewish journalist.

An inquiry began after Mr Livingstone accused the reporter of "doorstepping" him at a party in February and likened him to a concentration camp guard.

'Extreme consequences'

The survey by Fosis, which represents Muslim student groups, was conducted to gauge their opinion on matters related to the London attacks

Two thirds of the 250 respondents felt the Iraq war had played a major role in the London attacks.

Federation president Wakkas Khan said: "The prime minister's continuing refusal to accept that his decisions could have led to such extreme consequences does nothing to appease the Muslim community, and on the contrary, seems to be causing more resentment amongst young Muslims.

"It is important now for Mr Blair to accept that foreign policy is a serious concern and to start to do something about it rather than being seen to brush it aside."

Mr Livingstone said: "Defeating those responsible for terrorist attacks like those on 7 July requires the full cooperation of all communities and especially staying touch with young people."

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