GLASGOW TERRORIST ATTACK , (Guardian, Asian News, Asian Leader, Asian Trader)

Following on from the terrorist attacks in Glasgow and London there was once again in an increase microscope on the Muslim community.  In my own mind I was beset with worry about how things were going to plan out over the coming days.

I’m the press Spokesman for the UK’s leading Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation.  The Foundation is working to build a better understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims create a platform for Muslim unity and also deal with the issues of terrorism and extremism.  We are the most high profile Muslim organisation that appears regularly to provide a more positive image of Muslims in the UK.

In the immediate moments after the terrorist attacks my phone went mental with calls from journalists from around the world asking what the Muslim community response was.  I was keen to move away from passing judgement before we knew the true circumstances of the attacks.  

By early evening it was clearer that we had witnessed terrorist attacks in London and Glasgow, a press release was duly written and sent out to the media.  My first concern was that the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown may respond in the same way as Tony Blair, come out, use terms such as “Muslim terrorist” or “Islamic extremism,” and make a false link between Islam and terrorism.  I have to admit on reflection I have been impressed by the Government’s initial response, it has been measured, about bringing people together and yes not using them terms above to demonise a whole community.

The same evening of the terrorist attack in Glasgow I joined Steven Nolan on BBC Five Live to discuss these attacks and take calls from the public, there was mixed responses from not all Muslims are like this and lets put in perspective to the extreme lock all Muslims and kick them out. 

My response was very clear, our faith Islam not only condemns terrorism but forbids it, and the scholars are unanimous on this.  The Country cannot hold 1.6 million Muslims responsible for the actions of a small minority, I give the example of a murderer or rapist and the country says his or her family are responsible for the crime – this was stupid and dangerous.  We have to ensure that we all come together.

I then give a detailed interview on BBC News 24 where I talked about terrorism and how we had to come together as a country, unite, hold hands, and say not in our name.  I have to admit it was one of my best interviews, very serious and I received over 25 emails from people who saw the interview and said they compelled to write to me to thank me for my work and the contribution of the Ramadhan Foundation.  It’s when I receive feedback like this it makes all those nasty comments, threats, and demonisation worthwhile.

In the following days I did over 300 interviews reiterating the important point that Muslims are double victims, once when terrorists strike and a second from the demonisation and victimisation.

My record of action on highlighting the issue of terrorism and the challenges of extremism in the Muslim community has been very active and I’m clear that we have woken up to that challenge.  Could you imagine Muslim organisations 2 years ago coming out within hours of the terrorist attacks to not only condemn but also encourage people to work with the police to deal with this issue, we have seen a sea of change in the Muslim community and that is something we should all be proud of.

The most striking thing is that Muslims leaders and organisations like the Ramadhan Foundation have been proactive in tackling terrorism; we have seen many changes in the response from minority communities.  

I make no apology for saying that we need to engage, have a dialogue and yes debate with the extremists.  We have to use highly respected Muslim scholars to explain why their views are wrong and why they need to come back to the mainstream of Muslim opinion. 

And as Dame Stella Rimington, former MI5 boss has said that since our illegal war in Iraq and our perceived double standards in foreign policy the UK is at an increased risk of terrorism.  This comes on top of Sir Michael Jay, former Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office who said in a leaked report in the run up to the Iraq war that if we went ahead we would be at an increased risk.  By all these people saying this does not justify terrorism or legitimise it but provides an opportunity to have an honest and open debate in the country about our biased foreign policy.

I welcome the new Government’s attempts not demonise and tarnish the whole Muslim community but we will judge the Government on its attempts to deal with the route causes of terrorism like poverty, unemployment, deprivation and isolation.

I am proud to be part of the next generation of Muslim spokesman that are proactively taking up the challenges facing our diverse communities, whether that be on terrorism, extremism or working with the Government.  Where we agree with the Government we will support them and where we disagree you can be sure I will be there attacking them.

My final analysis is that we do not need to erode our freedoms and Civil Liberties any further, when Sir Winston Churchill dealt with fascism he did not do it with doing away with freedoms and civil liberties and we can deal with terrorism without any further erosion of these rights that’s why we are opposed to 90 day detention.

I hope that my contribution is seen as reflecting the positive contribution Muslims are making to the UK.  It’s time to celebrate our achievements and what unites us not what divides us because the terrorist want to divide us and in that they will fail.

Only through unity will we prevail and defeat terrorism.


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