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U.K.: British Muslims Ponder What They Should Do

Following the unsuccessful second terrorist attack in London on 21 July, British Muslims are concerned the majority population increasingly blames them. They say the murder of innocent people has no place in true Islam. At the same time they are not sure what they can do. They suggest that community leaders and mosques cast the extremists out, but say they do not know who exactly the extremists are.

London, 25 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The attempted terrorist attacks in London on 21 July increased fears of alienation and animosity among the British Muslims.

For ordinary Muslims, even the unprecedented meeting of their leaders with the Prime Minister Tony Blair has not been much consolation. And many of them have not heard about the "fatwa" against the terrorists pronounced by some 500 Muslim scholars.

Even the leaders of British Muslims say they cannot tackle the problem of terrorism alone.

"We need to make sure that we regulate the kind of people who come and talk to our congregation," said Imam Ibrahim Mogra, chairman of the Community and Mosque Committee at the Muslim Council of Britain. "If there is any guest speaker, we have to make sure that they know that they cannot preach any hatred. We need to make sure that people do not abuse the surroundings outside the mosque to distribute or to preach hatred. And we make sure that we inform the authorities if anyone is doing something that is not conducive to peaceful coexistence."

For ordinary Muslims in London this is something their leaders should have been doing all along.

"We should all unite together, because we are living in Britain," said Jemina, a 26-year-old housewife with two daughters. "We are British as well. So, I think it's very important that the leaders sort of get together young ones and tell them whatever they're thinking of doing is all wrong, because they listen to them only."

Hassan, 38, works at one of a number of Muslim restaurants in Whitechapel, in East London. He is extremely angry with the attackers.

"We strongly condemn whatever happened," Hassan said. "I mean, on the 7th of this month and [on 21 July] as well. And if I were in charge of the police, I might have -- not like the British police -- kill[ed] them the same day. Yes, they could be Muslim, but they are not Muslim. We don't believe them. We're living here, it's a duty to help the authority."
"We are British as well. So, I think it's very important that the leaders sort of get together young ones and tell them whatever they're thinking of doing is all wrong, because they listen to them only." -- housewife

Ibrahim, 45, is the only one of six people working at a butcher shop on Tooting High Street in south-central London who regards himself as a British Muslim. He says the extremists should be publicly expelled from the Muslim community, and he thinks the recent "fatwa" against them is one way of fighting them.

"You know our 500 ulumas, 500 scholars, have given, you know, a fatwa that they are not Muslims, those people doing these things," Ibrahim said. "But if any one, any Muslim doing anything wrong, he's out of this circle. He is not in this circle, he is out of our religious circle."

Nasim works at a nearby bank. He stresses he regards the attackers as enemies of Islam.

"It's ridiculous, I mean they're not really Muslims, are they? I mean when you say 'Salaam Aleikum' to each other, you're saying 'peace be upon you,'" Nasim said. "This isn't peace. The only action is really for preachers in the mosques -- they're the heads of the community, yeah -- they should get together, and say 'this is what we're supposed to be doing.'"

Mohammad, walking home with large shopping bags, is in his 30s. He has a global explanation and a solution at hand.

"It's more of a political cause, because at the end of the day the real reason why these people are terrorizing the British is because of the first Gulf War, when the Americans landed on Saudi soil," Mohammad said. "And that's the real reason for the whole issue."

Mohammad concludes that there will be no end to the terrorist attacks until he says America and Britain fulfill their promise to find a solution to the Palestinian problem.

Shabana, a young shop assistant, has come out of the bank. She has a number of ideas on what the Muslims should do.

"They can do demonstrations and TV or radio programs, or newspapers, magazines," Shabana said. "They can write about these kinds of things. I mean they can condemn all kinds of terrorism."

She concludes that this strong condemnation of the terrorists by the Muslims themselves "should heal the indoctrinated insane youngsters."

See also:

RFE/RL Interviews British Islamic Leader Zaki Badawi

Who's Fighting The Real War Against Islam?