Suicide bomber supporters challenge Blair's anti terror plans
August 16, 2005
Muslims challenge PM's terror plans
Muslim leaders have challenged Prime Minister Tony Blair's anti-terror plans as they revealed fears that Islamic values could be "demonised".
Among the proposals they criticised was the closure of mosques defined as extremist, which they warned could "fuel a radical sub-culture
A 38-strong list of signatories, including the Islamic Human Rights Commission and the Muslim Association of Britain, also condemned plans to ban pressure group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
The various leaders issued a six-point statement in response to the Government's measures in the aftermath of the London bombings. It said: "We fear that recent events are being exploited by some sections in society to demonise legitimate Islamic values and beliefs."
The statement criticised the use of the term extremism, which it said had no tangible legal meaning and was unhelpful. The right of people to resist invasion and occupation was legitimate, it argued, adding that questioning the legitimacy of Ithe sraeli occupation was also a valid political expression.
A proposal to ban Hizb ut-Tahrir was "unwarranted, unjust and unwise" and any disagreement with a political organisation should be expressed through debate, not censorship, it went on.
Closure of mosques accused of "fomenting extremism" would amount to a collective punishment of the community, the statement warned.
Finally, the Muslim leaders said plans to deport foreign nationals to countries known for human rights abuses was "abhorrent".
Earlier this month Mr Blair vowed to throw out fanatical preachers as he announced wide-ranging powers to combat Muslim extremists. He warned: "Let no-one be in any doubt, the rules of the games are changing."
Mr Blair said that clerics coming in to preach at British mosques will have to be vetted to ensure they do not pose a threat while those already here who do will be deported.
Muslims warn Blair of 'mark of dictatorship'
Muslim groups yesterday denounced Government plans to deport fundamentalist clerics and ban extreme Islamist organisations as the "mark of dictatorships".
As they issued their comments, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that it had dropped charges against an imam who had been accused of calling for the slaughter of British servicemen and the murder of homosexuals.
Abdul Muhid, 22, was charged with racial hatred and a public order offence, which he denied. The case was dropped when the CPS said there was "not a realistic prospect of conviction" because of identification difficulties, though several witnesses were prepared to give evidence.
Muhid is alleged to be a leading member of the Saviour Sect, linked to Omar Bakri Mohammed, who is on holiday in Lebanon and who has been banned from re-entering the country. He was arrested at a religious stall in Walthamstow, east London, last year after complaints that a man had called for British troops in Iraq to be killed and for homosexuals to be hurled from cliff tops.
Det Insp Simon Rose, who led the investigation, told the Evening Standard in London: "The CPS authorised the charge against him, then reviewed it and then changed their minds."
Ten days ago Tony Blair outlined a 10-point plan for dealing with Muslim extremism by deporting or excluding firebrand clerics, closing mosques that are judged to be centres of political activism and banning groups that fall foul of the new benchmark.
However, these measures have angered Muslim groups and Labour now finds itself increasingly at odds with the community after spending years trying to build bridges.
A statement endorsed by more than 30 organisations, including the Muslim Association of Britain and Hizb ut-Tahrir - which has been threatened with proscription - accused the Government of seeking to "demonise" legitimate Islamic values.
"The Muslim community in Britain has unequivocally denounced acts of terrorism," the statement said.
It added: "The proposal to ban the non-violent organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir is, in our view, unwarranted, unjust and unwise, and runs counter to all the principles which western democracies are currently trying to promote abroad … Criminalising the mere possession of certain opinions is the hallmark of dictatorships, not democracies."
It went on: "The proposal to deport and/or extradite foreign nationals to countries known for gross human rights abuses is abhorrent."
Hazel Blears, the Home Office minister, felt Muslim anger yesterday during a visit to Leicester. Yaqub Khan, of the Pakistan Association in Leicester, said: "The law on terrorism is making the whole Muslim community stand in the dock."