BLAIR MEETS MUSLIM LEADERS
(19 July 2005)
Blair has discussed the UK's community relations today in the aftermath
of the London bombings. He met today (19 July 2005) with senior
Muslims, as well as representatives from the opposition parties,
in Downing Street. Speaking afterwards, Mr Blair said there was
a 'strong desire' from those who met to set up a task force to speak
to young Muslims in the UK 'and confront this evil ideology and
defeat it.' He said it had been a 'very heartening meeting' which
had showed a 'remarkable degree of unity' between the different
Blair later told journalists that the terrorists had a 'twisted
logic' and would use any excuse to justify their actions.
those attending the meeting were: Lord Nazir Ahmed; Khurshid Ahmed
(Commission for Racial Equality); Yousef Al-Khoei (Al Khoei Foundation);
Azhar Ali; Zaki Badawi (Muslim College); Abdul Bari (London Muslim
Centre); Lord Amir Bhatia; Baroness Kishwer Falkner; Farzana Hakim
(Commission for Racial Equality); Dilwar Hussain; Sarah Joseph;
Sadiq Khan MP; Sabira Lakha (Federation of Shia Muslim communities);
Khalid Mahmood MP; Shahid Malik MP; Shazia Malik; Imam Ibrahim Mogra;
Gul Muhammad (British Muslim Forum); Bushra Nasir; Sir Gulam Noon;
Lord Adam Patel; Ghulam Rabbani; Sir Iqbal Sacranie (Muslim Council
of Britain); Mohammad Sarwar MP; Baroness Pola Uddin.
the Prime Minister's press briefing held earlier was more acrimonious.
Asked for a reaction both to Omar Bakri Mohammed's comment in today's
Evening Standard that the London bombings had been the responsibility
of the British people for electing Tony Blair as Prime Minister,
and also to the UK leader of al Muhajiroun, Anjem Choudray, who
had said, among other things, on the Today Programme this morning
that anyone who sat down with the Prime Minister today would be
sitting down with a tyrant and that another 7/7 was a very real
possibility, the PMOS (Prime Minister's Official Spokesperson) said
that "the views of certain individuals should not be mistaken
for the views of the community as a whole.
was important for us to listen to the vast majority of voices in
the Muslim community, not just today but in the period since the
bombings. Those voices had not only outrightly condemned the bombings,
but had also recognised that Muslims must take on the argument against
the extremists within their own community. Today's meeting with
the Prime Minister was all about mobilising the moderate voice within
Islam to take on the arguments within the Muslim community."
by 'The Sun' to explain how extremists were allowed to express their
views when the Government was introducing measures to outlaw anything
which encouraged or indirectly incited terrorism, the PMOS said
that "the entire point of today's meeting was to focus on moderate
Muslim opinion. He had no intention of fuelling any more headlines
about extremists. No one should be in any doubt about the Government's
resolute approach to taking on the extremist voices within the Muslim
was precisely why we were proposing changes to the law. It was also
why we had the support, in principle, of the Opposition parties.
In reacting to those extremist voices, it was obviously important
not to give them more attention than the moderates. Ultimately,
it was for the authorities to monitor and make assessments about
the things people said in terms of whether it was within the law
or not. "
for a reaction to the view expressed by the Muslim Council of Great
Britain and Zaki Badawi, the head of the Muslim College, that the
Prime Minister must understand that the Iraq war had contributed
to the feelings of social dislocation, exclusion and disillusionment
with mainstream politics, particularly among Muslim youths, the
PMOS pointed "we recognise that some people would use issues
such as Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan to further their
aims. However, it was important to understand that these were not
the root cause of extremism. The root cause was a perverse ideology.
what the Prime Minister was expecting Muslim community leaders to
do, the PMOS said that "it was important not to underestimate
the action which the Muslim community had already taken, such as
the resolution announced by the Imams yesterdays. That should get
as much public attention as the views of one or two notorious individuals.
Today's meeting was an opportunity for the Prime Minister and the
leaders of the Opposition parties to listen to the Muslim community
and also to underline that although words of condemnation were welcome,
we needed further action on the ground.
emphasised that today's meeting was by no means the end of the process.
It was only the start. It's aim was to establish a dynamic and a
momentum which would reach out into the Muslim community.
ut-Tahrir Britain, an Islamic political party, has already denounced
this morning's meeting between members of the Muslim community and
the UK government. It issued a statement saying that the meeting
"failed to address with any seriousness some of the most important
issues facing the Muslim community."
Imran Waheed, the Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, said,
"This meeting has no great significance as those who attended
it largely agree with the agenda already put forward by the government
for the Muslim community. This suggests that it was no more than
a photo opportunity."
link between British foreign policy in the Muslim world and the
resultant radicalisation of the entire Muslim people was completely
ignored in these discussions. Legitimate political dissent to foreign
policy is being portrayed as extremism. This illustrates the lack
of seriousness in understanding the real feeling amongst the Muslim
masses and the level of denial that permeates through government."
is worrying that the close affiliation of many of the participants
with government does not confer upon them the impartiality and independence
that our community requires at this juncture."