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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 July 2006, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Heed 7 July lessons - Muslim MP
Muslims in a north London mosque
Muslims involved in consultations feel let down, says Khan
Ministers are facing criticism over the response to the 7 July bombings from one of their most prominent Muslim MPs.

In the week of the first anniversary of the attacks, Sadiq Khan says he is disappointed with efforts to engage with the Muslim community.

The MP for Tooting says there is an air of despondency over the achievements of the special taskforce set up by the government after the bombings.

But Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said good work was taking place.

Seven Muslim working groups were set up by the government and they reported in November.

Sadiq Khan
There has been limited progress but there is an air of despondency
Sadiq Khan MP

But Mr Khan told a Fabian Society conference that only three of their recommendations had been implemented.

In his speech he said: "What has happened to all the good ideas? Why hasn't an action plan been drawn up with timelines?

"There has been limited progress but there is an air of despondency. Only three recommendations have been implemented, and group members feel let down.

"I worry that the government might become the Duke of York - marching all these talented British Muslims up the hill of consultation and dialogue, only to march them down again as very little appears to have changed."

This is a huge task and our biggest allies in this task are the Muslim communities themselves, the vast majority of whom want to see an end to extremism just as much as you or I do
Phil Woolas
Local Government Minister

A Home Office spokesman said much had been accomplished since the Preventing Extremism Together (PET) Working Group members had made their final report.

And Mr Woolas, a local government minister, told the BBC: "This is ongoing, this is not a one off.

"This is a huge task and our biggest allies in this task are the Muslim communities themselves, the vast majority of whom want to see an end to extremism just as much as you or I do."

He added: "What we can't do as a government is tell the Muslim community what it is they have to do - we have to work with them and MPs, such as Sadiq Khan."

He said there were 64 recommendations, and only 27 of those were for the government - the rest were for partnerships and communities.

Successes

"Of course I know full well that there are many youngsters who feel alienated from mainstream society and they search for their identity as British Muslims," he said.

"But the government has been saying for many years that we think the likelihood of extremism and terrorism is a certainty, if not a probability and we have to take this issue as a society very importantly indeed and that's why the government has refocused its strategy into communities."

The government has highlighted some of the successes, including:

  • the scholars roadshow, in which 18 influential Muslim scholars and thinkers have spoken to audiences of young Muslims, numbering 30,000 so far
  • the mosques and imams national advisory board has formed a steering group and plans to launch on 27 June
  • national forums on islamophobia and extremism began in Leicester and more are due in Redbridge and Dudley
  • government-funded workshops and video outreach projects
  • a consultation on stop-and-search policing
  • work on countering religious extremism on campuses

Mr Woolas spoke out as a Populas survey for The Times and ITV News suggested that 13% of British Muslims think the men who carried the 7 July bombings in London should be regarded as "martyrs".

It also suggested that 7% agreed that suicide attacks on UK civilians can be justified in some circumstances and 16% said while the attacks may have been wrong the cause was right.

Some 2% suggested they would be proud if a family member decided to join al-Qaeda, while 16% would be "indifferent".

Meanwhile, also speaking at the Fabian Society conference, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain urged people to stop focusing on the 7 July and 11 September attacks.

Muhammad Abdul Bari said that did not help in addressing problems within the Muslim community.

"It is time we get out of this discourse. We should not lose sight of the real issues of society... like foreign policy and the need for positive integration," he said.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
MP Sadiq Khan speaks about the response to 7 July



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