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Salma Yaqoob

22 September 06 15:21 GMT

We turned to the British Muslim activist, Salma Yaqoob, for her Take Of The Week.

" As a mum, listening to John Reid yesterday telling Muslim parents they should keep a closer eye on their kids, I couldn't help but feel patronised and think his comments are a little unhelpful at the present time.

The fact is that we do care for our kids. We don't want them to blow themselves up, or anybody else up.

We are not bomb-proof

But what's really dangerous about what he did yesterday is reinforce the perception that Muslims are somehow not doing enough in fighting terrorism.

Of course, the reality is that we're all equally at threat. We are no more bomb-proof than anybody else in this country,

Many Muslims feel extremely frustrated and upset that we are collectively held responsible for the actions of a few criminals and extremists who are given a huge amount of publicity.

When senior ministers come out to make statements like John Reid did, it reinforces a perception of Them And Us.

Them And Us

And it's this Them And Us mentality that actually makes Muslims even like myself feel that we're not really accepted, that we don't really belong, whatever our protestations.

And, ironically, it is this Them And Us mentality which the real extremists prey upon.

It is undeniable that a dodgy theology which peddles a ticket to paradise for killing oneself and others is something that needs to be seriously challenged within the Muslim community.

What is also undeniable is that this dodgy theology would have no audience were it not for the dodgy foreign policy of this government.

Through the slaughter of innocents and the torture of people in places like Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon an anger and despair have been fuelled which is mined by extremists.

Not a clash of civilisations

The comments by the Pope last week as well as the hysterical reaction by Muslims in this country has not helped the sense of polarisation.

But having said all of this, I am proud to be British. There's no country I would rather live in, and my kids are British.

If I have a difference of opinion with the foreign policy of this country, it is not a clash of civilisations or values.

It's an expression of dissent, of citizenship, and of loyalty to this country.


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