Marginalization, Iraq eclipse UK reaching-out to Muslims

The Iraq war and marginalization have cast a pall over a bridge-building bid by the British government with the Muslim minority, who said it is high time that authorities stopped living in denial and addressed the underlying causes of the extremist ideology behind the London bombings.

The Muslim Council of Britain, the main representative Muslim body in Britain, said ministers needed to accept the role political events such as the Iraq war had played in the growth of extremism, The Financial Times reported.

“It seems the government is in denial about this,” a spokesman told the paper. “Some of these policies have contributed to making the extremist message more palatable to Muslim youth.”

Anti-Terrorism Minister, Hazel Blears, went Tuesday to Oldham in Greater Manchester on the first stage of her eight-leg journey across the country in search of grassroots Muslim opinion.

She listened for two and a half hours as faith leaders, councilors, young men and women, who mostly welcomed the visit as “useful” while some branded it as a routine Labour-like PR exercise.

Dominic Grieve, the shadow attorney-general, agreed that the Iraq war was partly to blame. “The Iraq war had contributed to this anger, with the western intervention in a Muslim country fuelling the ‘great grief’ caused to British Muslims by the state of the Islamic world,” the FT quoted him as saying.

He added that he found the suicide bombings “totally explicable in terms of the level of anger which many members of the Muslim community seem to have about a large number of things.” Grieve warned he did not think that “simply by visiting community leaders you are going to get to some of these underlying issues”.

In an obvious retreat from his earlier stance, British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, acknowledged on July 26 that Iraq was being used to recruit terrorists.

One of the four would-be bombers arrested last week in the biggest massive manhunt in British history told investigators that they were motivated by the Iraq war and not by religious fervor.

Islam Online, 3 August 2005