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Muslims appeal for understanding

01-09-2005

By Poppy Brady

Birmingham Evening Mail:

DISTORTED information given out by the media is only aggravating the situation for Muslim communities in the wake of the London bombings two months ago.

That is what Home Office Minister Paul Goggins was told when he visited Birmingham to speak to members of a mosque in Victoria Road, Aston.

Muslims told of their fears of being branded terrorists through ignorance and lack of understanding about their faith.

But Mr Goggins, who has been meeting with Muslim communities all over Britain since the July 7 atrocities, said everyone was aware that the vast majority of Muslims were peace-loving people.

He said it was the small element of extremists who were capable of terrible deeds that needed to be confronted.

"There is also a need for the Muslim community to present its own image and not wait to be described by others," said Mr Goggins.

He spent yesterday in the city accompanied by Perry Barr Labour MP Khalid Mahmood, having a summit meeting at Edgbaston Cricket Ground. He also visited the Islamic Resource Centre in Balsall Heath and met youngsters in Calthorpe Park.

Mr Mahmood, himself a Muslim, said: "The aim of these meetings is to encourage the mainstream Muslim community to stand up and be counted. We also want more women involved and to set up youth groups."

During the mosque meeting, Spiritual Deputy Mohammed Arif Farique said: "Since the bombings I have been shocked at how, despite living among these (English) people all these years, they have never really understood me."


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