This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3805
January 8, 2009
Gaza conflict fuelling anger in UK, Muslims warn Brown
Representatives say Israeli government's use of 'disproportionate force' has 'revived extremist groups'
Anger within Britain's Muslim communities over the Gaza conflict has reached "acute levels of intensity" that could have repercussions for national security, leading Muslims will warn Gordon Brown today.
In a letter to the prime minister, representatives of Muslim organisations will say the Israeli government's use of "disproportionate force" to combat threats to its security has "revived extremist groups" and "empowered their message of violence and perennial conflict".
The letter, a copy of which can be read on the Guardian's Comment is Free website, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/08/open-letter-gaza-gordon-brown-israel [PASTED BELOW] also says that the "current, partisan and simplified narrative" emanating from the White House is of "serious and direct harm" to relations between the UK, North America and Arab countries.
Among the signatories are Dr Usama Hasan, imam of Al-Tawhid mosque, London, Dilwar Hussain, head of the policy research centre at the Islamic Foundation, Zareen Roohi Ahmed from the British Muslim Forum and Ed Husain, co-director of the anti-extremism thinktank the Quilliam Foundation. All are active in tackling extremism in the UK and overseas.
They say it is imperative for the UK to distance itself from the Bush government. The letter goes on: "We urge you to make concerted and successful efforts to convince the US administration of the dangers of its approach and to ensure the incoming Obama administration forges a more enlightened direction. We also believe the UK - bilaterally and as part of the EU - has an important role to demonstrate to Israel that the threshold of acceptable behaviour has been perilously transgressed."
The letter adds: "As you are aware, the anger within UK Muslim communities has reached acute levels of intensity. The Israeli government's use of disproportionate force ... has revived extremist groups and empowered their message of violence and perennial conflict. For Muslims in the UK and abroad, we run the risk of potentially creating a loss of faith in the political process."
Their intervention follows a meeting on Tuesday between Bill Rammell, foreign and commonwealth affairs minister, and 30 people drawn from Muslim organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Islamic Society of Britain.
In what was said to be a testy meeting, representatives told Rammell the government's position on Gaza could provoke UK terrorist attacks. One of those present was Dr Hany el-Banna, youth worker and co-founder and president of the charity Islamic Relief.
He told the Guardian: "We are all working tirelessly to try and cool them down. I am telling them to change and bring something positive, but they see these images and they trigger extremist thoughts in the simplest individuals. Many millions of people will see these images in the media, what do you think the effect will be?
"The government is responsible for the country and its foreign policy. I don't want something to happen here."
Another participant in the discussion, Khurshid Drabu, said there was widespread concern about radicalisation. "What we are looking for is equality of treatment when international law is breached. When a Muslim country does that the weight of the world is on them, why does Israel have such impunity?"
A perceived double standard has alarmed the Young Muslims Advisory Group (YMAG), which the government launched last October to help prevent violent extremism. The group sent a letter to Brown this week saying government failure to condemn Israeli action against Palestinians was undermining efforts to reduce homegrown radicalisation.
The letter, first published in Muslim Youth, said: "We are in grave danger of sending a message to youth today that the mass murder of civilians can be justified if the right grievances are cited. In the current climate there is a real danger young people who witness the impotence of institutions that are supposed to be protecting innocent life will turn to other organisations in an effort to make their voices heard and the violence stop."
'We are witnessing a time of great danger'
Leading Muslim counter-extremism advisers urge Gordon Brown to hold Israel accountable for its attacks on Gaza
More than a dozen of the government's leading Muslim counter-extremism advisers have signed a joint letter to Gordon Brown to warn that Israeli actions in Gaza are damaging the British government's efforts to tackle religious extremism at home. The 14 signatories – which include several prominent moderate Muslim community leaders – say that while the British government should not alter its foreign policy in order to placate Islamist extremists, it should also avoid taking actions which will play into the hands of radicals.
Dear Gordon Brown
As friends of the UK government and firm allies in the government's efforts to tackle extremism at home and abroad, we write to express our acute concern about the possible repercussions of the serious on-going conflict in Gaza.
We wholeheartedly support your calls for an immediate and permanent
ceasefire that must include the immediate cessation of Israeli aerial and
ground assaults, an end to all rocket attacks into Israel and a total lift of the siege of Gaza. For that to be a viable objective, we believe the UK, the US and our European allies must demonstrate uncompromising leadership in reinstating a workable peace process in the Middle East.
As you are aware, the anger within UK Muslim communities has reached acute levels of intensity. The Israeli government's use of disproportionate force to combat threats to its security has revived extremist groups and empowered their message of violence and perennial conflict. For Muslims in the UK and abroad, we run the risk of potentially creating a loss of faith in the political process.
We agree with your statement on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme (4 January 2009) that we are witnessing a time of great danger. We must do our utmost to prevent permanent damage to relations with Muslim-majority countries, and to work together to ensure such an escalation of violence does not happen again.
A strong transatlantic relationship has been of immense strategic value to the United Kingdom, but we now believe it is imperative that we make our differences and views clear. We urge you to make concerted and successful efforts to convince the US administration of the dangers of its current approach and to ensure that the incoming Obama administration forges a more enlightened direction. The current partisan and simplified narrative emanating from the White House is of serious and direct harm to relations between the UK, North America and Arab countries. It is also potentially undermining our national interests.
We also believe that the UK – bilaterally and as part of the EU – has an important role to demonstrate to Israel that the threshold of acceptable behaviour has been perilously transgressed. We believe the time has come to suspend the EU-Israel upgrade process until the present conflict has been brought to an end. The UK should make clear to Israel, publicly and privately, that genuine and lasting improvements in the occupied territories are a prerequisite for continued political support.
In view of the urgency of the situation, we would like to relay our concerns to you in person at your earliest convenience. It would provide us with an opportunity to subsequently inform our national and global networks of the UK government's efforts to hold Israel accountable to its obligations under the peace process and to ensure that effective negotiation triumphs over violence on all sides.
Dr Tahir Abbas
Parvin Ali OBE
Dr Usama Hasan
Aftab Ahmad Malik
Dr Zahoor Qureshi
Zareena Roohi Ahmed
CC: Rt Hon David Miliband, foreign secretary
MIM: Ed Husain, co founder of the Quilliam Foundation a stealth Islamist organisation is cited in the article below saying that Muslims can't help but react violently to the Israeli actions in Gaza.
For more on Ed Husain see: "UK Self Proclaimed Ex Radical Ed Husain Exposed As Anti-Semitic Extremist" http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3788
Gaza 'could motivate UK extremists'
British counter-terrorism officials say they are watching closely for any increase in activity by radicalised extremists in the UK, following Israel's assault on Gaza.
Prominent British Muslims are warning the government anger among young Muslims over events in the Middle East is reaching dangerous levels. Ed Husain, co-founder of think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, is a former Islamist and expert on radicalisation. He said years of work on promoting moderation were now at risk. He said: "The first response I got from the events in Gaza... [was] from Muslims up and down the country telephoning, saying, 'How can we prevent terrorism from happening on our streets again? Anger is so widespread, anger is everywhere.' "That's a bad sign when moderate leaders suddenly feel, 'How can we push back against this?' That their work over the last two or three years has been undermined by events in the Middle East."
' Representatives from a number of British Muslim organisations have expressed their concern in an open letter to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown, urging him to take more visible action to stop the violence in Gaza. They have contrasted what they see as Britain's low-key approach with the example of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who swiftly departed to the Middle East on an intensive round of shuttle diplomacy.
Publicly UK Muslim representatives are wary of voicing their fears of a violent backlash in Britain. But privately they say there is such widespread Muslim frustration over world leaders' apparent inability to stop Palestinian civilians being killed they fear the seeds are being sown for another major attack like the London bombings of 2005. The Foreign Office says it is responding to Muslim concerns by holding regular briefings on Britain's efforts to secure a lasting ceasefire, with Foreign Secretary David Miliband and others working flat out to secure international agreement at the UN. Knowing many British Muslims may be unaware of these efforts, Foreign Office officials say there are plans to announce them shortly through British mosques.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST), a self-protection group for British Jews, told the BBC it was on heightened alert after threats were made to Jews worldwide. Earlier this week painted slogans calling for the killing of Jews appeared in north London. On Sunday night an attempt was made to set fire to a synagogue in Brondesbury, north London, and the police have stepped up patrols. The spokesman said CST had taken the precaution of putting out advice for people to be wary of suspect packages, to check their CCTV cameras were working, and to be on the lookout for what he called "hostile surveillance" around buildings.
MIM: Majid Nawaz, co founder of the Quilliam Foundation is quoted in the article below demanding that the UK issue a policy statement to appease violent Islamists.
For more on Majid Nawaz and the Quilliam Foundation see: "Why Is Anyone Listening to Maajid Nawaz? Ex - Terrorist trades violent for stealth jihad"
Thu Jan 8, 2009 12:05pm GMT
By Michael Holden
LONDON (Reuters) - A group of prominent Muslims who advise the government on security issues have written to Prime Minister Gordon Brown warning that Israel's attack on Gaza could fuel violent Islamist extremism.
In their letter, the 14 leading advisers said anger within Britain's Muslim communities had reached "acute levels of intensity" and called for Britain to put more pressure on the United States to change its approach to the crisis.
"The Israeli government's use of disproportionate force to combat threats to its security has revived extremist groups and empowered their message of violence and perennial conflict," the letter said.
"For Muslims in the UK and abroad, we run the risk of potentially creating a loss of faith in the process."
One signatory, Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of counter-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, said they were not critical of the approach of the government, but that ministers needed to deliver a clear message that could not be twisted by extremists.
He said moderate groups working with Muslims in communities needed to be able to explain the government's stance in order to remove the perception it was not doing enough or did not care about Palestinian deaths.
"Extremists will use this situation and will utilise this opportunity to spread (their) message," Nawaz told Reuters. "It does undermine our work, that's just a fact. It's happening as we speak and it's putting our work back many years."
Concern about the alienation of Muslims in Britain came to a head following the suicide bombings by four young Islamists in London in July 2005 which killed 52 people.
Britain has thwarted a number of al Qaeda-inspired plots since and ironically in a unique series of newspaper interviews on Wednesday, Britain's domestic spy chief said the immediate threat of an attack by Islamist militants had receded.
However, Jonathan Evans, head of the MI5 national intelligence agency, also warned that Israel's attack on Gaza would be used by extremists to radicalise British Muslims.
The Community Security Trust, a body which advises Jewish communities on security matters, said it was at its second highest state of alert and that there had been a significant number of anti-Semitic incidents since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on December 27.
These included an arson attack on a synagogue, one violent physical assault, and numerous threatening messages and graffiti in Jewish neighbourhoods.
"Generally Islamism will grow in popularity unless we successfully manage to fill that vacuum with genuine liberal democratic voices," Nawaz said.
(Editing by Steve Addison)
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3805