Anti-extremism strategy not productive: UK Muslim body
* Meeting highlights abuse of legislations, saying anyone can be booked for commission of acts of terrorism under current laws
LONDON: A meeting of over 200 prominent Muslim leaders called the British government’s anti-extremism strategy counterproductive.
Representatives from all over the United Kingdom attended the meeting at Birmingham’s Central Mosque.
Convened by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the meeting was organised to discuss a number of pressing issues and enabling the people to share their views on the anti-extremism strategy.
Drawing references from Islam, various leaders reminded Muslims that Islam rejected any form of extremism.
The meeting also voiced “serious alarm that the British government may be in danger of adopting misguided notions of extremism as dictated by xenophobic commentators who profit from creating a hostile atmosphere from which bigots of all shades could draw”.
A definition of ‘extremism’ that would classify the overwhelming majority of loyal and law abiding British citizens as extremists would be of no value in the fight against terrorism.
The speakers also highlighted the abuse of current anti-terrorism legislation, adding that it was so broad that everyone could be booked for committing acts of terrorism.
The meeting recognised that British Muslims had the same inherent and equal rights to hold and promote their beliefs as any other community.
The meeting noted that Muslims in Britain are rich in their diversity of theology, background and experience. Therefore, uninformed calls for an engineered reformation of Islam were totally rejected as “un-British and counterproductive”.
“All of us have an important stake in ensuring that our country is properly safeguarded from those who want to launch indiscriminate attacks. As such, it is crucial that all of us - Muslim and non-Muslim - give the necessary help and support to those charged with the responsibility of maintaining our security,” said MCB Secretary General Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari.
The MCB urged the UK government to learn the necessary lessons from past strategies, which have undermined the effort against violent extremism.
“The government must be more consistent if we are to successfully counter the terror threat,” added Dr Bari.
Britain has expressed concern about threat of terrorism from its Muslim population of Pakistani origin. Reports earlier this week had suggested that Pakistan had tipped off British government about more than 20 Britons believed to have spent time with radical militant groups and then returned to the UK. A Sky TV report had said the tracked men might have trained with extremist outfits.
Sky had said that a dossier was likely to be handed over to British anti-terrorist teams ‘soon’. At least four of the suspects are thought to have been fighting in Afghanistan, and Sky quoted intelligence officials as saying that
they had heard ‘English accents’ while listening to satellite and mobile phone chatter between the UK and Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. app