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Give us the freedom to disagree with you

July 2, 2012

The real intent of these attacks is to fuel non-Muslims’ hatred for Muslims
Published: 04 July 2007

It is a miracle that the terrorist attempts to create carnage in London and Glasgow mercifully did not materialise. The well-trained emergency services’ swift and efficient responses created a calm which helped many of us stay focused throughout this crisis. Our new Prime Minister and other politicians have pitched measured responses, which are essential in maintaining public composure.

This response plays a vital role in undermining and defeating the true goals of the terrorists, which are, in fact, to sow seeds of doubt and division in our society; and augment differences between British Muslims and the rest of society. The carnage that could have occurred was only a secondary aim, and this must be clearly understood. The real and overwhelming intent of all such attacks is to fuel non-Muslims’ hatred for Muslims, which they can then capitalise on to create wider swamps for terrorist recruitment.

Thus, after a period of nervousness after the initial terrorist alerts, we welcomed the Prime Minister’s call to win over the hearts and minds of those who may be inclined towards this path of perdition. It appeared that, far from the Blair doctrine, we were not as a community being blamed and asked to defend ourselves from events to which we are in no way connected.

Vanished are the days of charged press conferences with perceived fear of new legislations, especially when they were laced with loaded terms like “rules of the game”. Although this change of approach by Mr Brown has made many Muslims feel less threatened, there are still many proclaimed experts clogging the media channels, generalising the faith of Islam and equating it with terrorism.

It falls equally upon the Government and Muslims in our country to work in tandem. To truly tackle the terrorists, Mr Brown must steer a change from the political approach of the Blair years during which the Government by and large engaged only with those Muslims who have acquiesced to the former’s political stance.

He must also address the question of how to make disaffected would-be terrorists refocus their energies, realign their loyalties and connect with British society once again. Further, not to fuel the divide of us and them by equating it with an attack on our way of life, but look scrupulously at the motives.

One point that Mr Brown cannot overlook is that in a globalised village, it is of vital importance for us, as a nation, to acknowledge that our actions thousands of miles away will sooner or later revisit us at home. It is telling that those arrested on suspicion of these attacks were mostly non-British and therefore their motives must relate to international issues.

To achieve this, it is time to realise that erroneously labelled radical Muslims, who have vehemently opposed government policies, in particular its foreign policies, may provide a better vehicle to reach the disenfranchised. I am not speaking of Omar Bakri and the few others of his ilk, who have promoted illegal and often unIslamic ideologies. I am speaking of the many law-abiding Muslims who are using democratic and peaceful means to voice their moral objections. These are the very same people whom the Blair government isolated and castigated, as they were diametrically opposed to many of the Blair home and foreign policies.

While Muslims must spend more efforts in nurturing and guiding their youth in utilising peaceful and democratic means to achieve change, the Government must also listen and foster change. They must show that peaceful means such as demonstrations, petition and lobbying pays dividends. This education process is needed for only a tiny fraction of young Muslims, but it is this very tiny fraction that is spreading the terror of the last few days. For the Muslim community, this is perhaps the greatest jihad.

Under Tony Blair, the Muslim community found itself walking a tightrope. If they accused government policies of being responsible for radicalising some Muslims, they were labelled extremist and marginalised. And if they curried favour with the establishment, the youth deserted them.

A change is urgently needed where Muslims can, without fear of isolation, debate and disagree with the establishment, and thereby truly assist in rooting out terrorists if they are able. To begin with, the mosques, which have become political graves, need once again to be centres of debate and a trove of answers for the youth. Further, sustainable community-based projects with local Muslims and a just ethical foreign policy are the best weapons against this scourge.

Ismail Patel is a spokesperson for the British Muslim Initiative

It is a miracle that the terrorist attempts to create carnage in London and Glasgow mercifully did not materialise. The well-trained emergency services’ swift and efficient responses created a calm which helped many of us stay focused throughout this crisis. Our new Prime Minister and other politicians have pitched measured responses, which are essential in maintaining public composure.

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