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November 08, 2005
Deafening silence from Muslims on anti-terror legislation
The Muslim News Editor, Ahmed Versi, Tuesday questioned why Muslim leaders were not voicing their concerns about the damaging effects the Government’s new anti-terror legislation was likely to have on the country’s 1.8 million community.
“It is very unfortunate that there has been a deafening silence form the Muslim leadership on the anti-terror legislation that is passing through the Parliament, even though this legislation is going to effect the Muslim community the most,” Versi warned.
“The plethora of legislations, which is being passed, will not help counter terrorism or extremism. The Government needs to build confidence and build bridges in the Muslim community, particularly among the Muslim youth,” he said.
His warning came as MPs were due to start two days of debate on the controversial proposals Wednesday with the Government deciding to press ahead with extending pre-charge detentions from two weeks to three months.
The Muslim News Editor said that the legislation was likely to be counterproductive in combating the threat of terrorism by alienating Muslims.
“On the contrary this bill will make it difficult for the intelligence services to gain information, which is very much needed to counter terrorism,” he said.
He also warned that the legislation will “stifle debate on the atrocities, which are being committed against Muslims in Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine.” The danger, he suggested, was that it could lead to young Muslims being attracted to “extremist groups who are very good in articulating the human rights abuses against Muslims.”
Apart from criticizing Muslim leaders for not speaking up, Versi also believed that the Prime Minister and his cabinet were using selected Muslims and some Muslim MPs, who support the anti-terror legislation, as evidence of support from the Muslim community.
“The Government has neglected even its own Muslim task forces who have argued against this anti-terror legislation. By not speaking up, these task forces are allowing themselves to be used as a public relations exercise to justify some of the excesses of the legislation,” he said.
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