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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
Radical books in London libraries
By Richard Watson
Correspondent, BBC Newsnight

Abu Hamza
Books by radical cleric Abu Hamza were found in London libraries

Public libraries serving the densest population of Muslims in London have been inundated with extremist literature, according to a report.

Multiple copies of books were found in Tower Hamlets that would feature on any jihadist reading list, the report obtained by the BBC said.

Tower Hamlets Council said their Islamic collections had been imbalanced, but they were improving.

The report was by right-leaning think tank the Centre for Social Cohesion.

'Separatism and bigotry'

Its main author Douglas Murray told BBC2 Newsnight: "This is a collection that is warped towards one particular extreme interpretation of Islam."

Most controversially, several books written by two of Britain's most notorious terrorist sympathisers were found in public libraries.

Douglas Murray, Centre for Social Cohesion
Douglas Murray says taxpayers' money should not fund extremism

Two books by Abu Hamza al-Masri, who used to preach at Finsbury Park mosque, are in the collection, as is one book by Sheikh Abdullah al-Faisal, whose lectures inspired two of the London bombers.

Both men have been convicted of incitement to murder, but not on the basis of these writings.

The former Islamist Ed Hussain, who grew up in Tower Hamlets, said: "The shocking thing is that this stuff is available and there are people out there borrowing it.

"The worry is how many of those people - it might be a small number, but small enough to cause carnage - who are then prepared to literally act upon those teachings."

Mr Murray said: "Taxpayers' money should not be used to fund extremism... after all thelibrary system is meant to educate and inform, not to cause separatism and bigotry."

'Hatred of women'

The Tower Hamlets collections also include multiple works by the founders of modern political Islam, Sayed Qutb and Sayed Abdullah Maududi, and a large number of texts from Saudi scholars, promoting the Wahhabi fundamentalist school of thought.

These, the report says, refer to "incredible hatred of women, incredible hatred of non-Muslims... and of Muslims who are not part of the Wahhabi tradition".

Tower Hamlets Library
Tower Hamlets Council operates a number of libraries in East London

The report's authors counted 61 separate copies of Maududi's books including the classic Al Jihad, in which he states: "The objective of Islamic jihad is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule... the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution."

There were also 11 copies of Sayed Qutb's Milestones, which is highly sought after by jihadists.

There were 20 copies of books by the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, and 16 copies of a book by modern day Saudi scholar Muhammad Jamil Zino.

Zino's book What a Muslim Should Believe offers advice in the form of hypothetical questions.

"Is it allowed to support and love disbelievers?" he asks. The answer is simply "no".

In a statement to Newsnight, a Tower Hamlets Council spokeswoman said: "The Islamic book stock came from a narrow range of publishers, thereby not reflecting the broad range of Islamic thought.

"We recognised we needed to improve the balance of the Islamic literature in our libraries, which has resulted in us buying extra books more widely representative of Islam."

The council said it would not remove the books by Abu Hamza and al-Faisal because the writings themselves remain legal in Britain.

The Centre for Social Cohesion was set up by think tank Civitas.


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