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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 15:31 GMT
Muslims meet over 'terror' arrest
Meeting to discuss the arrest of a terrorism suspect in Gloucester
Local MP Parmjit Dhanda spoke at the meeting
Muslims in Gloucester have met police to voice fears that an arrest under the Terrorism Act may have destabilised their community.

Hundreds of the city's 2,500-strong Muslim community attended a public forum on Monday night to discuss how best to maintain good race relations.

It followed an emergency meeting of more than 400 residents just 24 hours after the arrest of local man Sajid Badat on Thursday.

Mr Badat, who is being held at London's high-security Paddington Green police station, is still being questioned by anti-terrorism officers.

Media criticised

The city's MP, Parmjit Dhanda, and Gloucester councillors also took part in the meeting, which was so packed that many people had to stand outside.

Meeting to discuss the arrest of a terrorism suspect in Gloucester
Residents aired their concern about damage to the community

Some sections of the local media were criticised for the way they had covered the arrest.

Shabir Bham, a spokesman for the community, said: "The key worry is the fallout of some of the way that this whole thing has been handled.

"It goes against the very things that this very small Muslim community is trying to work in terms of retaining a sense of balance, particularly in relation to the rest of the community."

Gloucester council leader Mary Smith said: "The most important thing is that we must not allow the people who went to the meeting for political purposes to whip up feelings and emotions.

"We must not allow people to use this situation to further their political aims."

And Mahmoud Patel, who organised the meeting, said: "The meeting was very productive - the community needed it to give them a chance to air their feelings about what has happened."

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