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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Terror raid coverage 'offensive'
Police outside one of raided houses
Some media coverage of the eight UK terror arrests on Tuesday was unfair, a Muslim campaigner has said.

Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain picked out one headline which described the police operation as: "Islamic bomb attack foiled".

"First of all we don't know whether it was a bomb attack," he told BBC Breakfast.

"And secondly, to describe it as Islamic is offensive to ordinary Muslims."

The men, who were arrested at various addresses in south-east England, have been described as British citizens of Pakistani descent.

We don't know whether it was a bomb attack... and to describe it as Islamic is offensive to ordinary Muslims
Inayat Bunglawala, Muslim Council of Britain
Mr Bunglawala said it was right that suspected criminal activity should be investigated - but criminals could come from any community.

"A word of caution is in order.

"We have seen high-profile arrests in the past of Muslims. Just a year and a half ago we saw the arrests of six men for allegedly being involved in a plot to gas London Underground.

"And yet we heard very little afterwards. No charges were brought, no convictions were secured.

"It's only right that we are vigilant, but also that we exercise caution and don't jump to conclusions."

'Demonised'

The head of Scotland Yard's terrorist branch, Peter Clarke, was at pains on Tuesday to say that police were not suspicious of the Muslim community as a whole.

"As we have said on many occasions in the past, we in the police service know that the overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence," he said in a statement.

The overwhelming majority of the Muslim community are law abiding and completely reject all forms of violence
Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's terrorist branch
Mr Bunglawala said these comments were "heartening" and "reassuring".

He pointed out that Muslims were as at risk from terrorism as any other member of the public.

"God forbid if a terrorist atrocity was to occur here... of the two million Muslims in the UK, almost half live in the London area.

"So if a terrorist atrocity was to occur, it won't differentiate between Muslims and non-Muslims."

None of the 1,000 mosques across the UK had been preaching violence as far as he was aware, he said.

"Any of that kind of activity is happening outside of the mosque network, and is confined to a tiny fringe."

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, agreed that the Muslim community as a whole was being "demonised" as a result of raids like Tuesday's.

He said: "These raids are usually given a lot of importance when they are taking place, but when people are released without charge, it is not news.

"It is creating a deception in the minds of ordinary people that we have a bigger problem than we really have."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The Muslim Council's Inayat Bunglawala
"All of us have the same urgency, the same desire to foil a terrorist attack"



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