UK Muslims Concerned, Weary of Terror Plot

British Muslims expressed their deep concerns Friday, August 11, about what might follow the arrest of 24 people most of whom are British-born of Pakistani origin, while others were skeptical and weary of the alleged terror plot.

UK Muslims Concerned, Weary of Terror Plot

"All right-thinking people must support the police in the intelligence-led actions they take to foil plots," Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for Britain's Muslim umbrella body, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Friday, August 11.

"However, there will also be a sense of unease about how the arrests may be used by some far-right groups and others to portray once again British Muslims as a community as a huge reservoir of potential terrorists," he added.

"There's weariness about what will follow."

Some 24 suspects were arrested in Britain on Thursday, August 10, over the plot.

The majority of the detainees were understood to be of Pakistani origin, said Britain's domestic Press Association news agency, citing unnamed senior police sources.

Deputy Commissioner Paul Stephenson, from London's Metropolitan Police, said that the plot concerned "people who might masquerade within a community behind certain faiths".

The Bank of Britain named nineteen of the terror suspects and said it has frozen their assets under the instruction of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the former MCB chairman, also cautioned against backlash against the Muslim minority.

"We applaud the action of the police in taking appropriate action to avert a tragedy but what is really required now is to be aware of the appropriate facts on which their action was taken. There is a danger of stigmatizing a whole community," he told the Guardian.

"We should not allow certain sections of the media and politicians to use the opportunity to carry out a diatribe against us. We need to know the facts."

London Mayor Ken Livingstone said the Muslim minority as a whole should not be blamed for the alleged terror plot.

"Only a united London can help defeat terrorism, which means that all London's communities have their part to play," he said.

Lessons from the Past

Bunglawala said the police should bear in mind similar high-profile raids in the past where people have been arrested only to be released without charge.

British police arrested two Muslim brothers in a huge raid on their house in east London on June 2, on claims of having a chemical weapons factory.

But the raid failed to produce any evidence of terrorist activity, promoting anger from the Muslim minority estimated at some 1.8 million people.

Britain's newspapers, while congratulating the authorities on foiling an alleged terrorist plot, implored the government not to curb civil liberties and react proportionately.

The Guardian counseled the government to be wary of making a similar mistake.

"Few people question the fact that changing threats require changing laws, resources and priorities, but that must not be allowed to wash away the liberal foundations on which they are built," the newspaper said in an editorial.

"A serious response should recognize that scrutiny, debate and liberal principles are allies not enemies in fighting criminality."

The Independent made similar demands of the government, arguing that "the way to combat terrorism is by sophisticated intelligence-gathering and thorough police work, not by the rush to pass repressive legislation that has too often been this government's response."

The Financial Times echoed some of those same sentiments in calling for a proportional response from the government in the wake of the foiled attacks.

The paper referred to Deputy London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson's description of the foiled attacks as "mass murder on an unimaginable scale" as "alarmist even if it is true."

"Even the worst acts of terrorism reap their largest toll in hysterical responses," the newspaper said.

"The most powerful answer to terrorism is not to be terrified."

Following attacks on London's underground network in July 2005 that left 56 dead, and similar failed attempts two weeks later, the British government attempted to pass legislation allowing the police to detain any individual for up to 90 days without charge in terrorism investigations.

The legislation prompted an outcry in many parts of the country, and the bill eventually failed in the lower House of Commons, with a watered-down proposal for 28 days passing instead.

Distracting Attention

Some British Muslims have also reacted with cynicism and skepticism over the alleged terror plot, believing that it was designed to distract attention from what is going on in Lebanon.

"I think you will get cynicism from the community," said Fahad Ansari, of the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

"Over the last few years we have seen many high profile raids like this plastered over the press to terrify the public. It has been hit and miss on too many occasions. It is causing a lot of mass hysteria."

Ansari said the plot could have been timed to ease distract attention from the British government's stance on the Israeli offensive in Lebanon.

"There has been so much pressure on the government, it could be a way of diverting attention away from its policy on the Middle East," he said.

"Blair is in denial and has to realize that there was a relationship between British foreign policy -- from Iraq to Afghanistan and the Middle East -- and the July 2005 London bombings," he added.

Sheikh Ibrahim Moqra agreed.

"No one would be more worried than our community if these suspects are British-born and educated.

"We constantly preach that they should not be misled by these terrorists, but if the government refuses to acknowledge the contributions its actions have made, what more can we do collectively?"

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16