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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 15:05 GMT 16:05 UK
Viewpoints: Islam and London bombings
Muslim community leaders have met Tony Blair at Downing Street to discuss how to respond to the London bombings.

The meeting focused on the radicalisation of young Muslims.

The prime minister has already outlined a plan to mobilise the 'moderate and true voice of Islam'.

We asked a selection of experts and public their views. Click on the links below to find out what they said.


Dr Imran Waheed, Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain

Amber Lone, playwright and author on radicalism

Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain

Keith Best, Immigration Advisory Service

Shaista Gohir, Muslim Voice UK polling organisation

Hassan Malik, student


Dr Imran Waheed is the media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain

To hold the Muslim community entirely responsible for the actions of a few is highly irresponsible and will do little for community relations.

This attitude will only alienate Muslims from the wider society and reinforce the perception that Britain is a divided society. What is required is for the whole society to accept responsibility for 7/7.

It is time to do away with the tired labels of 'extremist' and 'moderate'; even people who hold dissimilar and disparate views can engage in dialogue.

The British government needs to re-examine its policy of interference in the Muslim world, which started well before the Iraq war.

The contradiction of espousing democratic values at home while supporting dictatorships throughout the Muslim world sits uncomfortably with many Muslims living Britain.

This feeling has been further accentuated by the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as Britain's support for America's war against terror, which opinion polls suggest Muslims widely perceive to be a war against Islam.

The British media also has an important role to play. The media needs to stop demonising Muslims and fanning the flames of Islamophobia.

The media has to become more objective in its presentation of Islam and the Muslim community.

Since the events of 9/11 we have seen the gradual depoliticisation of our mosques and centres of learning - during the Iraq war few Imams discussed the real extent of civilian casualties and fewer still channelled the anger and frustration of the Muslim community into Islamic political activism.

This state of affairs cannot continue; our younger generation need to see that our mosques are open forums for discussing local, national and international issues.

The Muslim community for its part needs to do much more, not only to confront those who seek to perpetrate such acts, but also to open up their mosques, community centres and houses to the wider society, including non-Muslims.

We have to be proactive as a community in working to dispel the many myths that exist about Islam.

Every Muslim needs to consider themselves to be an ambassador of Islam for the wider of society.

Keith Best is chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service

Everyone realises suicide and other bombings are directed not against governments but ordinary people.

If we do not respond as people then we shall not overcome this insidious attack on our way of life.

It is also both European, as the murder in the Netherlands of Theo van Gogh demonstrated, and global: one suicide bomber in Iraq only one week later killed more people than the four London bombs.

It cannot be left to the Muslim community although their condemnation of the attacks is welcome and more vociferous than in the past: they must attack indoctrination in religious schools.

Alienation of young people comes in all social strata: economic and educational deprivation are not the only causes. Nor should we attribute to revolutionary clerics the powers of persuasion of Joseph Goebbels.

Yet motivation does come through perversion of many of the world's great religions.

We should start with greater ecumenicalism stressing the similarities of monotheistic beliefs in passivity and reaching out to others and expect all clerics to do this to their own adherents as well as to others.

It is easy for everyone else to do this too - it is simply neighbourliness, non-discrimination and taking an interest in other cultures.

Alienation must be addressed by all communities.

Do we expect too much of young people and give them too little guidance?

Are we collectively responsible for a spread of latchkey youth?

When I was young it was easy to be idealistic about global peace and reconciliation in the days of nuclear mutually assured destruction and many of my generation went to do voluntary service overseas.

Can we not recreate that idealism among young people by encouraging them to work for the amelioration of poverty and deprivation: a national volunteer force?

Government and employers can encourage and facilitate this as well.

Let us start a debate on how ordinary people can make a difference and ask ourselves how we are doing, going on the attack in terms of values.

If these atrocities mean that we turn more to the values of universal human rights, society cohesion and tolerance that underpin our society rather than its materialist attributes then maybe we shall be strengthened ourselves while further isolating and making irrelevant those who have no equivalent values of their own.

Shaista Gohir is the director of Muslim Voice UK

The unequivocal condemnations of the London attacks by the Muslim community are not enough.

Muslims need to confront the fanatical fringe that preach violence and hate in the name of Islam.

They need to do more than just prevent extremists from preying on impressionable Muslim youth; they also need to understand the pressures faced by young Muslims living in the West.

There is a lack of understanding between generations; religious leaders can no longer rely on just being able to communicate in the English language.

They need to actively engage with the youth at grassroots level about issues that concern them such as the killing of innocent Muslims abroad.

The community needs to address these and find ways in which their grievances can be expressed peacefully.

The youth also need to be educated through mosques and schools that Islam prohibits terrorism.

However, the responsibility for preventing the disfranchised younger generation from becoming radicalised must be shared; the Muslim community is not solely to blame.

Pro-active action by Muslims in tackling terrorism is only part of the solution.

Adopting harsher laws and spending billions on security will not eradicate terrorism either.

To defeat terrorism, the underlying root causes need to be dealt with; prevention is better than cure.

The root causes of terrorism need to be debated, not to justify the senseless carnage that took place, but to comprehend it.

The reasons for the London bombings are not, as everyone is claiming, that terrorists wanted to attack 'our way of life.' The bombers were apparently integrated young Britons.

The likely cause is political anger over foreign policies.

These reasons do not justify taking innocent lives, but an objective assessment must be made of Britain's biggest terror incident.

The fact that the Iraq war played a part in the atrocities cannot be ignored.

Additionally, the government's relationship with the Muslim community has deteriorated since 9/11 and British Muslims feel stigmatized.

There are also high levels of deprivation in Muslim communities which further alienates them and provides a fertile ground for recruitment into extremist groups.

The government needs to tackle these issues.

Amber Lone is a playwright and wrote Paradise, a play focusing on the radicalisation of British Muslim youth.

The Muslim community is not a homogeneous monolithic mass, much as politicians and 'expert' commentators would like us to believe.

How can every Catholic prove their condemnation of the actions of the IRA?

Muslims have been dealing with the aftermath of such attacks for years, whether the murder of innocents be carried out by suicide bombers in London or present day Iraq.

Each time such events have occurred the Islamic community worldwide has been scrutinised and assumptions have been made.

It doesn't seem to matter that the victims of 7 July included Muslims.

There has been a failure to consider the concerns of Muslim youth, but that is something which covers all youth in Britain, especially those from poorer and non-white communities.

There is a disproportionate amount of unemployed and poorly educated Muslim youth.

Events such as the Oldham riots in which many first-time young Muslim offenders were sentenced to years in prison have justified to Muslim youth that there is a silent campaign to punish them excessively.

There is also a generational gap in Muslim society.

Many younger Muslims feel that most councillors, politicians and certainly religious leaders from the Muslim community do nothing to alleviate their social, political, cultural and economic concerns.

They believe they collude with larger political parties to gain status and leverage for themselves, not for the wider community.

They believe they are politically inept and this suits the agenda of the major political parties who view the older generation a examples of tolerance and restraint.

The responsibility for the events of 7 July lies with all of the inhabitants of the world, not just the UK. That is the part nobody wants to hear.

The truth is that these individuals for a variety of reasons feel they have nothing to lose and everything to avenge.

Inayat Bunglawala is media representative for the Muslim Council of Britain

The four suicide bombers that struck London with such devastating effect on 7 July have sent a tremor that still continues to reverberate across the length and breadth of Britain.

This sense of horror and dread has been particularly acute amongst Britain's 1.6 million Muslims.

Following the Madrid bombings in March 2004 the Muslim Council of Britain sent out a letter to all mosques and Islamic institutions in the UK urging everyone to be vigilant and to help the police in ensuring the safety of this country and its inhabitants.

In September 2004 we printed 500,000 copies of a Pocket Guide on Rights and Responsibilities in which we declared that 'terrorism has no religion and is indiscriminate in whom it injures and kills... averting a terrorist attack is an Islamic imperative.'

We placed the anti-terror hotline number (0800-789321) prominently on the back of the Pocket Guide to encourage co-operation with the police.

At the same time mosques throughout the country took the lead in preventing their premises being used by extremists for recruitment purposes.

Still, the bombers managed to strike and inevitably questions are being asked about what more we could have done.

Last week, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, visited the towns of Dewsbury and Leeds where three of the bombers lived.

He listened to the concerns of Muslim youths, youths who have lower than average educational achievements and higher than average level of unemployment.

They expressed concerns that their faith of Islam was being relentlessly demonised and consequently they were being stigmatised as a 'problem community.'

They also expressed their anger in no uncertain terms at recent government actions abroad in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many expressed the sentiment that Muslim lives abroad were held to have little value in the West.

These are concerns that the government ought to pay heed to.

If we are to defeat al-Qaeda-inspired terrorism in the UK then there will have to be a genuine partnership between the government and the Muslim communities here.

Those who planned and carried out the London attacks were surely the enemies of us all, Muslims and non-Muslims.

Although much has been made of the fact that the men were all Muslims, Islamic teachings are very clear.

The Prophet Muhammad said: "He from whose hand and tongue his neighbour is not safe is not a Muslim." (Sahih Muslim).

In the struggle that lies ahead, it is absolutely crucial that British Muslims should be seen and treated as partners, and not as a fifth column.

Hassan Malik is a student

To deal fully with the aftermath of the London attacks and rebuild our community both the Muslims and the larger society of Britain need to face their responsibilities.

The solution is to identify and rectify the root causes of such attacks, and everyone has a part to play in this.

This is no menial task, a number of different causes would have been entangled to lead to such an inhumane act.

To address this, the Muslim community in particular - who will be able to relate better to their youth - need to be involved in teaching the youth the true Islam that explicitly forbids such acts of terror.

The process which has begun with Muslim leaders visiting Leeds and talking to the community is a step forward.

As well as this, there needs to be a greater element of social inclusion by the wider community - this is by no means a one-way process.

British non-Muslims need to learn more about Islam and its values and the Muslims need to learn more about British culture. Unless this happens, a divide is likely to occur.

Speculation, particularly on the causes of such horrendous acts, especially by the media is something which should be guarded against.

The media should come forward to help build a united front - not to disunite society.

A major cause which has been highlighted a number of times is Britain's foreign policy; this is something which the majority of Muslims and non-Muslims agree upon and given time can be changed.

There is no particular generational gap in the Muslim community, but it is a fact that in each community, there are some people who have their own outlook which the majority would disagree with - this includes both the terror suspects as well as those who are backlashing against the Asian community.

We need to ensure that no such acts of terror are committed again, not in our country, nor anywhere else. To do this, a united and collective front is required.

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

From the comments it does seem British born Muslims are first and foremost Muslim. Any other attachments, such as nationality, come a very poor second, at best.
Paul, Cambridgeshire, UK

A comment was made about the concerns of Muslim youths. I am a Muslim and I am fed up of all Muslims being blamed for the extreme views of a wicked minority brought in to the spotlight for their distorted disgusting views on Islam. I don't believe in extremism and find these Muslim terrorists an absolute embarrassment.
Sara, Chelmsford

As usual, we're being told it's all our fault for not being 'inclusive' enough. I think we've been amazingly inclusive, adapting our laws to protect and accommodate viewpoints that are very far from our own. Surely the problem is not that Muslims are not given opportunity to integrate - it is that the Muslim leaders have not been clear enough in rejecting many of the non-inclusive aspects of Islam.
RS, Bath, UK

As a non-Muslim, I sympathise with Amber Lone's statement that the Muslim community is not a unified homogenous mass, but by inference is seen as such by our political leadership. For years our politicians have effectively ring fenced these 'British Citizens' by electing to communicate with the British Muslim population via community leaders and umbrella organisations, rather than directly.
John, Northallerton

I take some issue with Dr Waheed's view that the "whole of society is responsible". Whilst one acknowledges the concept of collective responsibility, this can be taken too far. Ultimately those bombs were the personal responsibility of the bombers, those who supplied the explosives and those who urged them to do it and promised a heavenly reward in return.
Alan Harrison, Sheffield

In response to Hassan Malik: No one is under any obligation whatsoever to learn anything about anyone else's religion. Your belief system is a personal matter and should stay that way. That is the real problem we have right now - some wholly irrational people think that their beliefs should be imposed universally.
Bill, Glasgow




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