Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Sunday, 15 February 2009

New counter-terrorism campaign

Chauhdry Abdul Rashid
The Lord Mayor of Birmingham came to Britain when he was 14

A new television advertising campaign featuring prominent Muslims from the Midlands is to be used in a counter-terrorism campaign in Pakistan.

I Am The West, was designed to combat extremist sentiment among young men who may be susceptible to extremist groups.

The commercials will include Chauhdry Abdul Rashid, Birmingham's Lord Mayor, and Worcestershire cricketer Moeen Ali.

The Dudley-based former chair of the British Muslim Forum, Khurshid Ahmed, has been behind the campaign.

'No incompatibility'

The advertising campaign is being funded by the Foreign Office to the tune of about 525,000.

The three-month initiative has been aimed at redressing what has been seen by some as a negative portrayal in the Pakistani news media of the West's attitude to Muslims and Islam.

Mr Ahmed said: "By seeing successful British Muslims, those who are alienated from society can see that Britain is not as they perceive it.

"We are proud of our Pakistani heritage, we are proud of our Muslim faith and of being British.

"There is no incompatibility with being a Muslim and having liberal British values."

'Very real issue'

The advert featuring Moeen Ali, 21, who became a practising Muslim about four years ago, will be the first of nine 30-second commercials.

He said: "You can be successful anywhere you want.

"[You've] just got to be committed and disciplined in whatever you want to do and then you can achieve it."

Birmingham's Lord Mayor, who came to Britain at the age of 14 when he could not speak English, said he did not believe the campaign should be seen as propaganda.

He said: "[The world] is a global village and they can see for themselves real people from those communities here and they can achieve the highest goals for themselves."

The Respect leader and Birmingham city councillor, Salma Yaqoob, said people featured were "fantastic", but added: "Will this actually help to fight terrorism?"

She said: "Just last week 40 people were killed. There is a war going on and people are angry about it.

"Thousands of people have been displaced from their homes and that's the resentment and that's the grievance that extremists exploit.

"So that's why I think people will think it's trivialising a very real issue by somehow thinking having these faces... will deter the terrorists."



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