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UK poll used to demonise Muslims ahead of 7/7 anniversary

04-07-2006

London, IRNA:

Muslim leaders are questioning the findings of a new poll that is being used to demonise the UK's 1.8 million community ahead of this week's anniversary of last year's London bombing.

"A significant minority of British Muslims believe they are at war with the rest of society," the Times said Tuesday in reporting a joint survey with ITV news, claiming that 13 percent believe the culprits of the 7/7 bombings should be seen as 'martyrs'.

But editor of the 'Muslim News' Ahmed Versi said polls can be misleading, including in the way questions can be constructed and in the way they are perceived by respondents.

"The findings do not appear to reflect the reality on the ground.

Tens of thousands of Muslims have been targeted by police stop and searched but had not led to even one being charged," Versi said.

Ironically, the poll also found that 79 percent of British Muslims said their community has experience increased hostility since last July's bombings and 74 percent reported that Muslims are viewed with suspicion by fellow citizens.

While being questioned during a coinciding parliamentary hearing, Prime Minister Tony Blair put the onus on 'moderate' Muslim leaders to do more to change the attitudes of extremists.

"We are not having a debate of a fundamental enough nature within the community, which is where the moderate majority go and stand up against the ideas of those people, not just their methods," Blair said.

"Government itself cannot go and root out the extremism in these communities," he argued in a reactionary mood.

His hearing came after Muslim Labor MP Sadiq Khan accused the government of causing a 'huge amount of frustration' within Muslim communities over its failure to implement a raft of Muslim-led recommendations put forward after last year's bombings.

On Monday night, Khan said that Muslim task force set up by Blair felt 'let down' by the government as 'very little appears to have changed'.

"We need to show it was not a short-term exercise, and that these ideas have not been shelved," he said in referring to only three out of 64 recommendations being implemented and especially the government's refusal to hold a full inquiry into the bombings.

"A public inquiry into the July 7 bombings could have provided one way to start the public debate which we need. Very few British Muslims, myself included, have been able to understand why government set itself so strongly against this," the lawmaker said.

The poll's negative findings were also seen overshadowing the killing of the first British Muslim soldier in Afghanistan, which several newspapers praised as having died for his country.

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