In 2006 I visited the United States to learn more about terrorism and how the US were dealing with it.


Being a British born Muslim I was concerned that during the recent focus on Muslims we began to lose the real focus, the terrorists.  As a British Muslim I was disgusted when the 7/7 attacks happened in London and was amazed that a small minority were hell bent to defend this murderous act.  It was normal for me to believe that my faith Islam would never sanction this sort of terrorism.  I realised that we had to build a huge alliance to protect our country from future attacks.

It was with this aspiration that I got the opportunity to travel to the United States to visit Muslims in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit has the largest concentration of Muslims in North America and the largest Mosque.  With BBC Five Live we attended a dinner at the Mosque where the Imam talked to the congregation about why Muslims should thank God for giving them the blessing of living in the United States, he went on to talk about Muslims living the American dream and why it was important for Muslims to be patriotic of the USA and take homeland security very seriously.  I found this amazing that an Imam was saying such patriotic comments about the country he called home.  In further discussions with a young Muslim female student, she told me that at every Thanksgiving Day they cooked turkey and the whole family gathered to thank Allah for the blessings they were receiving in the USA, could we ever imagine this happening in the UK?

The contrast with the UK cannot be more different, Pakistani and Bengali students are some of the highest performer in the US whilst in the UK the same group are usually the poorest performer, In America there is so much focus on education and the benefits this brings – Education is the biggest tool to defeat extremism and terrorism.

In discussions with the Lee Baca the Sherriff of Los Angeles county he told me about his pride of setting up a group named “Muslims for Homeland Security” the basic idea is that Muslims come together and take a more active role in protecting the United States for potential terrorist attacks, taking this more visible and active roles creates an environment where terrorists can be marginalised and arrested.

Since 7/7 we have in this country been engaged in a debate about the wrong issues, the most pressing thing facing our nation is homeland security, we need to build an alliance across all communities that say not in our name to terrorism and take pride in our country.  We have something very unique in this country, the freedom to practice our faith and live in peaceful co existence with various communities. 

My lesson from Detroit is that Muslims in the UK need to take a more active role in protecting the United Kingdom; we can do this in partnership with the police and security authorities.  With a firm belief that Muslims as UK citizens are as concerned about security as other citizens and by working together we can eliminate this evil from our communities.  At the same time the Government has to deal with unemployment, poverty, lack of academic standards in the Muslim community – dealing with this will be the biggest indication that Muslims are equal citizens and can feel truly British.

I hope our Muslim community takes up this challenge with the same strength and commitment to making our nation safe and secure for the 21st century


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