Muslims urged to stay indoors

Fears that Muslims may be become the victims of reprisals following today’s London bombings have prompted a warning for them to stay indoors.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, appealed for calm and condemned the bombings. He said: “The Islamic Human Rights Commission utterly condemns this attack, but now we appeal that there should be no further victims as a result of reprisals.”

There was no immediate confirmation of who was responsible for the attacks, but a claim was made on the Al-Qal’ah [Fortress] internet site, by a group calling itself the Secret Organisation Group of Al-Qa’ida of Jihad Organisation in Europe.

Mr Shadjareh said some members of the Muslim community suffered a backlash following the September 11 2001 terror attacks in the United States, and the Madrid train bombing in March 2004. He said he was “very concerned about a backlash” and called on British Muslims to “remain vigilant and calm and stay indoors”.

He said: “IHRC is advising Muslims not to travel or go out unless necessary, and is particularly concerned that women should not go out alone in this climate. In the event of being attacked, IHRC urges victims not to retaliate and to report the matter to the police and appropriate authorities.”

Dr Mohammed Naseem, chairman of the Birmingham central Mosque, questioned the advice and said it was “a bit over the top”.

Speaking on behalf of the city’s sizeable Muslim community, he said: “We are shocked and condemn without reservation this horrendous atrocity. Our hearts and minds go out to the innocent victims of this crime and we offer our condolences.

“We have to ask everybody to be calm and offer the government our support to apprehend the culprits,” he said.

But he expressed concern about the potential use of existing anti-terrorism legislation that has been criticised in recent years by the Muslim community.

The government should be open about the evidence it has against potential suspects and not help foster a “climate of suspicion” about the Muslim community, he said. “There are dangers that if we work on the basis of suspicions, the harmony between communities will be the first victim of these attacks,” he added.

The Muslim News, based in Harrow, Middlesex, unreservedly condemned the bombings in London. Its editor, Ahmed Versi, said: “We unequivocally condemn these terrorist attacks. We express our deep condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the victims.”

Press Association, 7 July 2005

See also IHRC alert, 7 July 2005