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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Police chief urges Muslim inquiry
Met Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur
Mr Ghaffur spoke at the National Black Police Association conference
The UK's highest-ranking Asian police officer has called for an independent judicial inquiry into radicalisation of young Muslims after the 7 July bombs.

Met Police Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur said Islamophobia made some Muslims vulnerable to extremism.

Tighter anti-terror laws had indirectly discriminated against Muslims, he told the National Black Police Association.

The Home Office said the legislation was not discriminatory and partnership with the Muslim community was vital.

'Hostile views'

Mr Ghaffur told the association's conference in Manchester a "critical crossroad" had been reached in relations with the Islamic community, adding that the aim had to be to prevent another terrorist attack.

The cumulative effect of Islamophobia...has created a generation of angry young people who are vulnerable to exploitation
Tarique Ghaffur

"Linked intrinsically to all of this is the growing challenge of anger amongst young Muslims," he said.

"Young people have developed a strong sense of connection with Islam. The cumulative effect of Islamophobia, both internationally and nationally, linked to social exclusion, has created a generation of angry young people who are vulnerable to exploitation."

He said the "simplistic" anti-western messages of extremist organisations, advocating closed and hostile views of other religions, could be attractive to vulnerable young people.

He said: "We must think long and hard about the causal factors of anger and resentment. In particular, we need to adopt an evidence-based approach to building solutions.

"I therefore support those who are calling for an independent judicial review of the issue of young Muslims and extremism and the wider community dimension."

'Inward looking'

Mr Ghaffur said police had to be careful about the consequences for community relations when tackling terrorism.

"There is a very real danger that the counter-terrorism label is also being used by other law-enforcement agencies to the effect that there is a real risk of criminalising minority communities," he said.

"The impact of this will be that, just at the time we need the confidence and trust of these communities, they may retreat inside themselves."

He said the use of stop-and-search powers and so-called passenger profiling in the fight against terrorism tended to be based on physical appearance rather than actual intelligence.

Mr Ghaffur called for leadership from the Muslim community, elements of which "remain inward looking".

Mr Ghaffur also said in his keynote speech that the police were "falling short" of their targets for minority representation in the service.

National Black Police Association president Keith Jarrett said Muslims were treated like "bogeymen", and urged delegates to use counter-terrorism legislation "with intelligence".

'Institutional Islamophobia'

Islamic community leaders echoed Mr Ghaffur's comments about Islamophobia and the need for an inquiry.

Islamic Human Rights Commission chairman Massoud Shadjareh said: "It has been clear for a very long time that there is an institutional Islamophobia in the implementation of stop-and-search.

"It has almost become a licence for people to implement Islamophobic and racist tendencies."

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari, backing the call for a public inquiry, said: "We as a society need to better understand what factors led to the four 7/7 bombers becoming radicalised and how many others may have come under the influence of similar extremist ideas."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The powers within counter-terror legislation are not aimed at a particular race, religion, or any other group.

"They are aimed at terrorists, whatever background or section of society they may come from.

"We are committed to improving and developing a close partnership with the Muslim community with the shared aim of combating terrorism."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Tarique Ghaffur on Muslim relations with UK police




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