Local Time

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Letter to local newspapers about terror arrests in UK

Sir

I write in response to the many news articles which have been broadcast and published since last Thursday about the 24 people arrested over the alleged plot to blow up several American airliners on route and over many American cities.

I would to like to focus my letter on some key points.

The names and pictures of the alleged plotters were splashed over the front pages of every single newspaper and TV even before they were charged by the police for any crime or even found guilty of any crime. The names and pictures of the prison officers recently arrested for corruption have not been published for fear of prejudicing the future trial. Surely this principle should apply to all British citizens including Muslims?

We saw the recent Forest Gate raids where it was alleged that chemical weapons were being manufactured and an innocent man was shot.

We saw the propaganda before the invasion of Iraq about weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda. None of which has been proven and yet the media and politicians constantly talk about terror plots involving Muslims and create an atmosphere in which Muslims come under verbal and physical attack.

I myself wearing western clothing and a short beard have experienced unease and discomfort from my fellow passengers when travelling on public transport. I dread to think what Muslim women wearing the Hijab have experienced, and even Hindus and Sikhs who often get mistaken for being Muslim.

Muslims living in this country face a double fear, one of being blown up whilst using public transport and secondly the fear of being shot by the police or being arrested and having their address and picture on the front page of every single newspaper before they have been found guilty of any crime.

Is it any wonder that the 2 million Muslims in this country feel aggrieved not just with Foreign policy but also with many aspects of domestic policy in relation to us and our religion Islam?

The recent statement by Tony Blair that Muslims have a false sense of grievance is wrong and it is he who is in denial. It is British foreign policy which has and will continue to radicalise and anger many Muslims as long as the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan continues. The recent re-fuelling by an American plane on British soil on its way to re-arm Israel is seen as connivance with America and Israel in the killing of innocent civilians.

The recorded statements by two of the 7/7 bombers mentioned foreign policy, a letter by the majority of Muslim parliamentarians and many prominent Muslim organisations mentioned foreign policy, many within his own party have mentioned foreign policy and the editorial of the Mirror last Friday also mentioned foreign policy as a factor in radicalising Muslim youth some of whom turn to violence after seeing the effect of foreign policy upon the innocent women and children of Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya.

How much more proof does the Prime Minister need that British foreign policy needs to be revised and based upon British interests as opposed to Bush and his neo-con agenda, where Muslims are now being called Islamic fascists and the new enemy which has to be fought and destroyed.

Many Muslims like me engage in non-violent political activism which involves dialogue with Non-Muslim politicians and thinkers because Muslims are not the only people angry with foreign policy. Whilst it is the minority who carry out acts of violence against all citizens in this country they are the ones given all the publicity. No doubt there is a deeper political agenda behind this.

Muslims from many different countries of origin have made Britain our home and we will continue to live peacefully among the host community. We will not allow ourselves to be divided by the media or Government of the day into Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Somali, Arab or Shia or Sunni. We are Muslims, not extremist or moderate but Muslims living in Britain.

We will continue peacefully to speak and be the voice of those in the Muslim lands who continue to suffer as a result of British foreign policy and who have no voice. Whose leaders are dictators and despots, who commit the worst forms of human rights abuse but as long as they serve western interests then their rule is considered legitimate and they are regarded as allies in the war on so called “ terror”.

Showkat Ali

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