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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK
Blears seeks to reassure Muslims
Hazel Blears meets Muslim leaders in Oldham
Community leaders met Hazel Blears in Oldham
Home Office minister Hazel Blears has sought to reassure the Muslim community over police stop and searches in the wake of the London bombings.

She met faith leaders in Oldham in the first of a series of meetings to discuss concerns following the attacks.

Some delegates, including young people, police and MPs, said the meeting was positive - others disagreed.

Earlier Ms Blears had stressed police should not stop and search people simply because they were Muslim.

'No targets'

Ms Blears said police should use intelligence, not racial profiling, when conducting stop and searches

"The counter-terrorism powers are not targeting any community in particular, but are targeting terrorists," she said.

Simple questions like stop and search and racial profiling, she couldn't give us a straight answer
Zahid Maqbool
Revival editor

"That is why they have got to be intelligence-led and used proportionally, fairly, and in a non-discriminatory way."

The policy was discussed at the Oldham meeting, as were concerns about unemployment and life in the town.

Oldham Labour councillor Riaz Ahmad said the talks were positive and he was glad there was "no intention to demonise the Muslim community".

"Hazel Blears has obviously come to listen and she is going back with a list of ideas," he said. "We want to work together to get rid of this evil among us."

But Zahid Maqbool, editor of Revival, a magazine for Asian youths which is published in Oldham, said: "You get an understanding that she's just paying lip service."

On "simple questions" like stop and search and racial profiling "she couldn't give us a straight answer", said Mr Maqbool.

'Sense of anger'

Shadow Attorney General Dominic Grieve welcomed the first of the meetings, but said these alone would not resolve problems in Muslim communities.

Stop and search is one thing, detention until proven innocent is another
A.M. Northampton, UK

He said he believed the bomb attacks on London were "explicable" because of the deep sense of anger, fuelled by the Iraq war and despair about the Islamic world, felt by some Muslims in the UK.

However, Ms Blears said: "People can fundamentally disagree with policy issues, foreign policy, all of that.

"But I don't see any justification for people blowing themselves up and murdering hundreds of other people."

Brazil meeting

The Oldham meeting was held as police continued to question further suspects, arrested on Monday, in connection with the attempted bomb attacks of 21 July.

21 July probe arrests
Ibrahim Muktar Said, arrested in Dalgarno Gardens, North Kensington on 29 July - can be held until 4 August
Ramzi Mohamed, arrested in Dalgarno Gardens, North Kensington on 29 July - can be held until 4 August
Yassin Hassan Omar, arrested in Hay Mills, Birmingham, 27 July - can be held until 3 August
Osman Hussain, also known as Hamdi Issac, arrested in Italy. The UK is seeking his extradition
In total, 37 people have been detained under the Terrorism Act in the UK. 17 remain in police custody and 20 have been released without charge.

And a senior Metropolitan police officer has met in Brazil the family of Jean Charles de Menezes, shot dead by police after he was mistaken for a suicide bomber.

It is understood Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates and Mr Menezes' parents discussed compensation.

In Italy, Osman Hussain, the man police suspect of attempting to attack Shepherd's Bush on 21 July and who was arrested in Rome, has been charged under anti-terrorism laws.

After suggestions the charges could slow efforts to bring him to the UK, the Home Office said it believed "everything is still on track".


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