Socialist Worker

Muslims are not to blame

Socialist Worker spoke to young Muslims about their reaction to the onslaught against then from politicians and the media.

Issue No. 1961

About 300 people marched for peace in Beeston, Leeds, last Saturday.  (Pic: Socialist Worker)

About 300 people marched for peace in Beeston, Leeds, last Saturday. (Pic: Socialist Worker)

THE MUSLIM community is saddened and shocked by the events of 7 July. We completely condemn the attacks. But the Muslim community as a whole is not responsible for the actions of a handful of people.

I am a British Muslim. I’ve lived here all my life and I intend to continue to live here. This is my country. This situation cannot be reduced to “us versus them”.

Muslim associations have worked so hard over the past decade to integrate, and now we are being made to feel like criminals for a crime we did not commit. We are being made to apologise for these actions which have nothing at all to do with Islam.

Muslims and the Muslim youth ­especially are feeling intimidated. We held a meeting of Muslim youth in Leeds recently and a lot of the people there had been called “terrorist” or had people shouting, “What have you got in that bag?”

Accusations like that just make you feel more frustrated and make people want to stay at home. This is not what we want. We are all part of society and we cannot all be branded as terrorists for the rest of our lives.

I think that Tony Blair has behaved in a completely ignorant way when he refuses to acknowledge the link between the war in Iraq and the bombings in London.

My family come from Iraq. I see on the television the bombings and the way the US and British forces storm into my friends and family’s homes—and this angers me. It doesn’t justify the actions of the bombers, but it does anger me a lot.

I find that in a single day 150 lives are taken in Iraq, and yet we don’t really see it on the news here. Why are our lives belittled?

Muslims see their brothers and sisters around the world being treated badly and it angers them. It should anger all of us, Muslim or not. We feel pain for the families of those who were killed in the ­attacks of 7 July, and we also feel pain for those who are being killed in Iraq and who are being ignored day ­after day.

In going to war our government implemented a policy against the wishes of the majority of the British people. This “war on terror” has made the world a more unstable and dangerous place.

Wasan Altikriti is a student in Leeds. She is a member of the Muslim Association of Britain.

MUSLIMS ARE being isolated. They are not responsible for the actions of the bombers. When the likes of Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Ian Blair make statements that the Muslim community is in denial, they are being completely irresponsible. The Muslim community did not create the problems we are now facing. They have had no say in the foreign policy of the British government and have been actively campaigning against the war.

Jack Straw and other Labour ministers argue that because 9/11 happened before the war in Iraq, then the war has no connection to the bombings on London. But history did not begin with 9/11. Look at how the Palestinians have been treated over the past 60 years. Look at the damage done by the West in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

We have a police force that will shoot dead an innocent man, a police force that has this policy of shoot to kill. How does this help? On the day Jean Charles de Menezes was killed senior officials said that he was known to them, that he was connected to the attempted bombings. But he wasn’t. He was an innocent man.

Since the bombings many innocent people within the Muslim community have been attacked. The time has come for people to stand together, to come out and say that the troops must be pulled out of Iraq and Afghanistan—we don’t want to play a part in these wars.

Oliur Rahman is a Respect councillor for Tower Hamlets, east London.

YOUNG MUSLIMS I’ve spoken to are appalled at the bombings, of course. But a lot of us feel that the path Tony Blair has taken to tackle terrorism — the “evil within the Muslim community”, as he calls it — won’t solve the problem.

He took this country’s army into ­Afghanistan and punished an entire ­nation. Then he did the same with Iraq. He’s brought in draconian legislation clamping down on civil liberties and signed a one way extradition treaty with the US.

All these things were intended to ­defeat terrorism. But none of them stopped the London bombings on 7 July.

Now the home secretary Charles Clarke is promising even more draconian legislation. This won’t help. If anything it will cause greater problems and greater frustration.The British people have been fantastic though. Although there have been some Islamophobic ­attacks, on the whole people have realised that the bombings are the actions of a few unrepresentative Muslims.

We need to build bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims. That’s how to stop young people ending up in the hands of those who can manipulate them and convince them bombing is the only way. Young Muslims need to feel they are making an active contribution to the society they’re living in, rather than ­being left on the sidelines.

A lot of Muslims have found that they can identify with parties that are left of centre—Respect for example. Muslims have turned to the far left and Respect primarily because of foreign policy — there’s a lot of crossover, as we’ve seen with the Muslim Association of Britain joining forces with the Stop the War Coalition.

Muslims are a minority in this country and the only way our views can come to the fore is if we share them with wider forces. We have to be clear that these are not just Muslim problems, not just Muslim issues

The anti-terrorism measures, for example, reduce everyone’s civil ­liberties. These kind of issues cross over the ­Muslim/non-Muslim divide. We will all stand in solidarity to defeat these measures.

Kareem Osman is studying physics at Imperial College, London.

YOUNG MUSLIMS are becoming more politicised, and when that happens they become angry. We’re second or third generation. We’re capable of understanding how governments work and we’re capable of doing something about it.

There’s an emerging trend of young Muslims channelling their anger through political channels, protesting against their MPs and councillors. We really need to get into the political arena.

People need to start getting involved. It’s the new emerging parties which stand for the ideals we attach ourselves to. I’m quite actively involved in Respect in east London. It’s the most powerful opposition to New Labour.

Fazan Khaliq lives in Redbridge, east London.

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Sat 30 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1961
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