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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 August, 2005, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Mosque chairman sparks fresh row
Mohammed Naseem

A Muslim leader says there are "similarities" between new powers to tackle Islamist extremism and Hitler's demonisation of the Jews.

Tony Blair wants measures to exclude foreigners who preach hate and to close places where terrorism is condoned.

Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, said: "I see the similarities...I am saying these are dangerous times."

Last week Dr Naseem questioned whether Muslims were behind the London bombs.

He [Hitler]...gradually created a bogey identity, that is, the Jewish people, and posed to the Germans that they were a threat to the country
Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of Birmingham Central Mosque

He made the comments after terror suspect Yasin Hassan Omar was arrested in the Small Heath area of the city in connection with 21 July attempted bombings.

Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood called for Dr Naseem to resign after the comments, insisting he had brought his role into disrepute but the chairman retaliated by saying 4,000 worshippers had voted for him to stay.

The MP said Dr Naseem's latest comments "played into the hands of the far right" and he described his behaviour as "diabolical".

He told BBC News: "It just gets worse.

"It is outrageous and really detrimental to community relations.

'Just as arrogant'

"It is bizarre that he can get away with it and I think he is playing into the hands of the far right who will use this as a further weapon to the people of the Muslim community.

"The way he has treated the community is diabolical. I saw him on Thursday and he was still just as arrogant as he was before."

Following the anti-terrorism proposals unveiled on Friday Dr Naseem told the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme that he saw "similarities" between Mr Blair's approach to Britain's Muslim community and Hitler's demonisation of Jews early in his time as German Chancellor.

"I think he is not very wise in the way he did it. I am saying he is not handling the situation wisely, because he says one thing at one time and another at another," he said.

'Dangerous times'

"He [Hitler] was democratically elected and gradually he created a bogey identity, that is, the Jewish people, and posed to the Germans that they were a threat to the country.

"On that basis, he started a process of elimination of Jewish people.

"I see the similarities. Everything moves step by step. I am saying these are dangerous times and we must take note of this."

He added that the measures proposed by Mr Blair would be "appropriate" if there was evidence that foreign nationals were in the country fomenting terrorism.

'Abusing hospitality'

"A government is entitled to take measures to safeguard the country and the nation, but the problem is that the government speaks with so many tongues that one is confused.

"Up to last week, we were given to believe that the terrorists were home-grown, 'clean-skinned' and Muslim.

"The measures being taken are against those who come to this country who are asylum-seekers and they are supposed to be misusing or abusing hospitality.

"Mr Blair told the Cabinet last week that people blame anything but faith, including poverty, discrimination and the war on terror for the bombings, so the message seemed to be that they are blaming everything else, but they should be blaming faith."

Dr Naseem stood for the Respect-Unity Coalition in Birmingham Perry Barr during the recent general election in Mr Mahmood's constituency and received 2,173 votes.

As part of the anti-terrorism measures unveiled on Friday, Mr Blair announced a ban on two radical Islamist organisations, Hizb ut-Tahrir and al-Muhajiroun, even though their leadership insist that they do not advocate violence in the UK.

Mosque chairman remains defiant
03 Aug 05 |  West Midlands
Call for mosque chairman to quit
28 Jul 05 |  West Midlands

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