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September 20, 2001

Blair warned not to wage war between Islam and West


British Muslim leaders have written to Prime Minister Tony Blair to express
their fears that the anticipated military action against Afghanistan could
be “construed as a war between Islam and the West,” The Muslim News has
learnt.

They also voiced alarm about the “disproportionate” measures that were
being considered so hastily without a credible investigation to last week’s
attacks in the US and the wave of “anti-Muslim hysteria” that was already
sweeping Britain.

“Responding to horrific killings of innocent people with further
indiscriminate violence where ordinary people are victims, not to mention
untold environmental damage, is neither civilised, nor the long-term answer
to the problem of international terrorism,” eight Muslim organisations, led
by the Muslim Council of Britain, warned Blair.

“Terrorism is a problem throughout the world, affecting those of all
faiths and nations,” their letter said. “It is clear that it cannot be
solved by military means and the singling out a few Muslim countries to pay
the price for specific incidents of global terrorism threatens to provoke
further attacks and lead to further atrocities,” their letter said.

The warning comes as Muslim leaders were meeting London Mayor Ken
Livingstone to discuss the growing number of attacks on Muslims and Islamic
institutions. They were also due to hold talks later with the Metropolitan
Police. Muslim leaders also met Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Tuesday to
express their concerns.

In their letter to Blair, the Prime Minister was urged to follow similar
action to the US and modify the Public Order Act, the Crime and Disorder Act
and Race Relations Act to give Muslims greater protection against
incitement, violence and discrimination.

“We feel that an urgent, strong and immediate response from the
Government to temper this wave of anti-Muslim hysteria is imperative,” it
said.

The Muslim leaders also told Blair Britain was ideally placed, due to its
long history of involvement in many parts of the world, to take a lead in
pushing for a more moderate response and carry out a deeper investigation
and long-term plan to combat global terrorism.

“An anti-terror campaign must not degenerate into a settling of scores
for all manner of issues, not least the conflict in Palestine,” they warned.

The world was at a “pivotal moment in history” and Britain needed to look
at the “voice of reason” and a leadership of “courage and wisdom that is now
needed so sorely” at this difficult time, their letter said.

Letter signed by: Muslim Council of Britain, London Islamic Cultural Centre,
Imams and Mosques Council, Al-Khoei Foundation, Muslim Aid, Palestinian
Community Assn in the UK, UK Islamic Mission, Forum Against Islamophobia and
Racism

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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