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Terror backlash begins

by Lester Holloway

FEARS ARE growing that Britain could be experiencing an anti-Muslim backlash following yesterdays London terror attacks.

Thirteen people are believed to have died on a bus blown up by a suicide bomber.

The Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said they were conducting  urgent research into whether Britain was experiencing a wave of Islamaphobia.

The Metropolitan Police are investigating a firebomb attack on a Sikh temple in Belvedere, near Erith in Kent, last night.

And there are unconfirmed reports of an attack on a Muslim woman whose hijab was ripped from her head. The editor of a Muslim newspaper today spoke of a deluge of anti-Muslim threats.


Ahmed Versi, editor of Muslim News, said: “We received a large number of negative emails saying Muslims were responsible for the killings and that they were going to attack our mosques, that they were going to kill us and we should leave this country and so on.”

At least 55 people were killed and 700 injured as the three Underground and one London bus bomb exploded yesterday morning.

Community leaders say language used by Tony Blair and other senior politicians could be inflaming the situation.

Blair praised the Muslim Council of Britain for condemning the attacks but went on to make several comments which risked reinforcing an 'us and them' seige mentality.

The Prime Minister said: “They will never succeed in destroying what we hold dear in this country and other civilised nations in the world. This is a very sad day for the British people but we will hold true to the British way of life.”


Black-led human rights group The 1990 Trust today warned police not to use of anti-terror laws stop and search in a knee-jerk reaction to London terrorism.

Mind Your Language: Tony Blair and George Bush
Mind Your Language: Tony Blair and George Bush

Home Office figures show a 300% increase in the use of stop and search against Asians in the last two years following the September 11th world trade centre attacks.

Only one in ten of these seaches led to an arrest, and only a tiny proportion ended up being charged with any offence.

Karen Chouhan, chief executive of The 1990 Trust, said the use of excessive control measures against British citizens from Asian communities would erode community confidence in the police and damage race relations.


She said: “If innocent law-abiding Asian and Muslim communities believe they are being unfairly and disproportionately targeted it will hamper the process of working together in denouncing terrorism.

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“I join Muslim community leaders and people from all backgrounds who strongly condemned the attacks. We all want to see the perpetrators of such heinous crimes caught and punished.

“But we also need to ensure we are not creating a climate of fear for Muslims, and that the authorities are doing everything in their power to stamp down on Islamaphobia.”


On stop and search there is evidence that powers have already been misused by police with a large proportion of stops made under anti-terror laws for crime related matters which have nothing to do with terrorism.

Firefighters rescue London underground commuters yesterday

Figures showing only a fraction of those stopped and seached ever get to court.

Some are now questioning whether damage to community relations caused by used of these powers  vastly outweighs a meagre conviction rate for minor offences.

Yesterday Home Secretary Charles Clarke admitted that ID cards would not have prevented the terrorist attack.

Speaking on BBC's Today programme he said: “I doubt it would have made a difference. I've never argued… that ID cards would prevent any particular act.”

Clarke's comments were welcomed by Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, who said she was “heartened” by the Home Secretary's admission.

Andy Robson, of the coalition No2ID, added: “We welcome the fact that the government have admitted ID cards would not have prevented the attacks. It begs the question why they are still willing to spend up to £15 million on the scheme.”

Earlier this year a report by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) said the Muslim minority has been living in a “climate of fear” since the September 11 attacks.

The ECRI said: “”Members of the Muslim communities also experience prejudice and discrimination, especially in connection with the implementation of legislation and policies against terrorism.

Another report by the Open Society Institute showed that Islamophobia and racial discrimination were on the rise. They cited maltreatment by police under the Terrorism Act and routine stop-and-search operations.

Senior British parliamentarians admitted last August that anti-terrorism laws are being used “disproportionately” against Muslims.

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