Posted on August 10, 2004

British MPs Regret Discrimination Against Muslims

Islam Online, Aug. 5

LONDON, August 5—Senior British parliamentarians admitted anti-terrorism laws are being used “disproportionately” against Muslims, as the community members feel increasing persecuted after a wave of arrests and hostile media campaign.

The Labour peer Lord Judd, a committee member, said that the arrests of a dozen young men on Tuesday, August 3, underlined fears that anti-terrorism legislation of 2001 discriminated against Muslims, The Independent reported on Thursday, August 5.

“That is a worrying situation in terms of the confidence of Islamic citizens in Britain that they are not all under suspicion,” Judd told the BBC.

This came as the Parliament Joint Committee on Human Rights warned in a statement that the Terrorism Act of 2000, which allows the indefinite detention of foreign nationals without trial, could have a “corrosive” long-term effect on human rights in Britain.

There was “discrimination inherent” in the Act, said the committee, saying that the government was forced to derogate—or opt out—of its international human rights obligations.

“We also note there is mounting evidence the powers under the Terrorism Act [of 2000] are being used disproportionately against members of the Muslim community,” it added.

Against Muslims

The wave of detentions have prompted dismay and anger among Muslim community leaders, fearing such action would harm integration efforts and boost feeling of victimization.

“Every time there’s a report on terrorism that’s going to be critical of the 2001 Act you get these arrests,” said Shadjareh.

According to the Home Office, by the end of June this year 609 people have been arrested under the Terrorism Act since 9/11, but just 99 had been charged with offensives and 15 convicted.

“There is now a growing bitterness in the Muslim community. It seems the vast majority of these people are arrested amid very high publicity and yet when they are released it does not attract the same publicity,” Shadjareh was quoted by the BBC News Online as saying.

“I think the police have a lot more to do in terms of working with the Muslim community and gaining their trust,” he added.

There is a growing number of complaints from Muslim citizens against being stopped in the street, their cars, having their homes searched, or pulled over for questioning at airports or ferry terminals.

Ruhul Tarafder, campaigns coordinator for the human rights organization 1990 Trust, had said Muslims from 14 years old and upwards had come to view being stopped by the police as part of normal life.

Profoundly Dangerous

Ismail Patel, the chairman of a Leicester-based human rights organization, said the recent detention of Muslims on terrorist charges highlights the precarious position in which the majority of British Muslims find themselves.

“The wider Muslim community is struggling to integrate into mainstream British life, but the public spotlight always seems to shine on the extremists. The result is a dangerous upsurge in Islamophobia,” Patel said in a commentary published by The Independent.

He wrote that Muslims are told to integrate, but when they do, via active political participation, they are informed that the “Muslim vote” poses a threat to democracy.

Patel accused British Prime Minister Tony Blair of political hypocrisy on Muslims, warning that Labor’s flirtation with Muslims during elections is disingenuous.

“Sometimes the Prime Minister can be heard praising the Qur’an to win support from Muslims, but he is also happy to unleash his crusader-like Home Secretary, David Blunkett, when he feels the need to appeal to popular prejudices.”

Media Campaign

This came as British Muslims have complained about the ferocity of recent attacks on Muslims and Islam in the mainstream media in the country.

“The ferocity of recent attacks on Muslims and Islam in the mainstream British media has led many to question what is driving these attempts to incite hatred and fear of our community,” said Anas Altikriti, the spokesperson for the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).

“Anyone reading the British press over the past few weeks might be excused for imagining that the country is threatened by hoards of Muslims living within its borders, determined to subvert British values and convert its people to Islam, by hook or by crook,” Altikriti said in an article published by The Guardian on Thursday.

Recently writing in The Sunday Telegraph, someone going under the name of Will Cummins clearly thinks along the same lines.

Cummins had warned about “Muslim foreigners who have forced themselves on us”, and was extremely distressed at the political engagement of the Muslim community in last month’s Leicester South by-election, in which the community’s three million members proved influential electorate.

Last week, a front-page article in The Times was headlined “Islamic colleges in Britain linked to terrorists”, and sought to “enlighten” readers about two of the most prestigious Islamic academic institutes in Britain.

Open To Dialogue

Altikriti said the attempt to force the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims into the tiny space occupied by the minority extremist element “is nothing short of wicked”.

“These latest media attacks appear to be part of a concerted attempt not only to do that, but also to tarnish the remarkable history of Muslims in this country and the role they have played in the shaping of our nation.

“Muslims do not want to conquer the world—on the contrary, it is their lands that are being conquered bit by bit at the hands of western forces.

“Of course we believe that we have a set of values and ideas which could bring peace, prosperity and justice to the world—as do followers of other faiths and ideologies—and we will continue to advocate and promote those in pursuit of what we believe is best,” the British Muslim scholar added.

Altikriti highlighted that British Muslims have always welcomed open debate in an attempt to defeat the fatalist notion of an inevitable “clash of civilizations”.

“The active participation of British Muslims in the anti-war movement and the key role of Muslim voters in the European elections and recent byelections have demonstrated their capability and potential influence.”


Suspect A Spy For Osama

By James Gordon Meek, Daily News, Aug. 6

WASHINGTON—An Al Qaeda suspect captured in Britain helped select and surveil major U.S. financial sites as potential terror targets and shared that data with Osama Bin Laden’s henchmen in Pakistan, counterterror sources said yesterday.

Abu Eisa Al Hindi was among 12 suspects rolled up by British antiterror police on Tuesday.

He was described yesterday as an Al Qaeda operative “engaged in planning [terror] operations and targeting sites,” one counterterrorism source said.

His capture came after an Al Qaeda computer whiz was apprehended in Pakistan and his computer files revealed detailed reconnaissance dating to 2000 and 2001 of five financial towers in the U.S.

“Hindi is suspected of contributing to the surveillance reports,” said the counterterror source. Many of the surveillance files were shared with Hindi or created by him, sources said.

“People are collecting [target surveillance] and people are sharing, which contributes to the sense of concern,” one source said.

Terrorist hunters also got the unnerving news yesterday that “chatter”—intercepts of communications between terrorists—has dropped in recent days. Such chatter went silent before Al Qaeda’s October 2000 Cole bombing and six weeks prior to the 9/11 attacks, suggesting plans were finalized.

“That’s the worry,” said a second counterterrorism source. “We’ve had indications of an event planned between now and the elections. It was the dated stuff that gave us the only real indications of where.”

The discovery of detailed reconnaissance of the financial centers—including photos, maps, escape routes and the locations of nearby fire and police stations—prompted Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to declare an Orange Alert for those buildings last weekend.

They included the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup Center in Manhattan, the Prudential Building in Newark and the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington. All five buildings and the blocks surrounding them are under heavy guard.

One of Hindi’s main contacts was Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan, the computer whiz nabbed in Pakistan last month. His capture led to a string of busts in Pakistan and Britain.

Pakistani officials said they found images of London’s Heathrow Airport on Khan’s computers and the information was passed to British officials.

Hindi and Khan are tied to top echelons of “Al Qaeda central,” sources said. U.S. intelligence played a key role in finding Hindi.

British police also said yesterday they had arrested Babar Ahmad, who is wanted on terrorism charges by federal authorities in Connecticut.

Ahmad, 30, is accused of trying to raise money for “acts of terrorism in Chechnya and Afghanistan” from 1998 through 2003, according to the U.S. extradition warrant.