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Sikh News Move to limit backlash against Muslims

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by CaramelChocolate, Jul 10, 2005.

  1. CaramelChocolate

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    Jul 13, 2004
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    Move to limit backlash against Muslims

    Community leaders and police meet as reports grow of assaults and threats

    Vikram Dodd and Alan Travis
    Saturday July 9, 2005
    The Guardian

    The first indications of a possible backlash against British Muslims came yesterday with reports of suspicious fires at a mosque in Leeds and a Sikh temple in Kent, as police confirmed that tension around the country was increasing.

    Meetings were being held across Britain as the authorities and communities moved to limit any backlash.

    Police said about 70 incidents against minorities had been recorded. They ranged from the suspicious fires to two possible assaults, verbal abuse and threatening calls.
    Community tensions were discussed yesterday at the Cobra meeting, the government's crisis command group.

    Imams used Friday prayers to condemn the bombings and to tell Muslims they "have no reason to feel ashamed" and should go about their daily lives.

    The home secretary, Charles Clarke, after meeting faith leaders, including Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said there were only "very, very minor" indications of a backlash.

    He stressed the importance of defending Britain's "multi faith community" and voiced concern about some of the language used in the media, particularly radio phone-ins. "The response should be to ensure that those who try to destroy our multi-faith community should not be able to succeed," he said.

    Police were classing as actual bodily harm two attacks on Muslims in the past 48 hours and at least two Muslim organisations have been subjected to "malicious communications", with one, the MCB, receiving more than 30,000 hate messages via email, which crashed its server.

    But the police have also warned of bogus reports on the internet being circulated of non-existent attacks on minority groups, in a deliberate attempt to inflame community tensions.

    A senior police source said there was "higher tension and anxiety, and we recognise a lot of incidents may not get reported. Among communities there is real anxiety about what might come. It's not just limited to Muslims. Hindu communities feel anxious in case they are mistaken for being Muslim.

    "It's not just in urban areas but also rural areas we are monitoring where there might be isolated minority groups." Police patrols around mosques have been stepped up, with some being carried out by plainclothes officers.

    Azad Ali, chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, where Islamic leaders and senior officers meet to discuss the policing of terrorism and other issues, said he believed there had already been five or six incidents of serious crime.

    "The police, in London and outside, everyone is on alert to act against hate crime in a robust manner to ensure it is dealt with quickly," he said. "I am happy with the way the police are handling it so far. But the media are not helping by using terms like Islamic terrorist. They should stick to what the police are saying, that these bombings are the work of criminals; crimes are committed by individuals not communities."

    Massoud Shadjareh, of the Islamic Human Rights Com mission, which has advised Muslim women not to go out in isolated areas alone, said it had reports ranging from arson attacks to "low-level" incidents such as verbal abuse and name calling. One family in London had its windows smashed and the father was fretting over allowing his wife and daughter out on the streets wearing headscarves.

    Mr Shadjareh said: "The police have so far been extremely responsible, so has the home secretary. I surprise myself saying it."

    Muslim leaders held an emergency meeting in London to discuss the rise in tension. Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB said: "We want to ensure that Muslims are not cowed by the fear. "It is ridiculous to say that Muslims should stay at home. It is important that British Muslims are seen to be part and parcel of the community going about their lives."
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