UK terror fight adds to Arab fears

The planned deportations and a raft of other proposed measures to curb militant Islamist activity in the wake of the July bombs in London, are bashing a fresh dent in Britain’s reputation in the wider Arab world. Dia Rashwan, an expert in Islamism at the Cairo-based Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, argues they could be counter-productive by playing to the perception that in the war on terror, the rights of all Muslims are under attack.

Many exiled radicals in London have been under close surveillance, he argues, and there is no proven legal case yet that they have contributed to radicalising British-born Muslims who carried out the bombings. Yassir al-Sirri, a London-based Egyptian condemned to death in absentia in Egypt, goes further, suggesting the government’s measures, if adopted, would hand a victory to extremists. He was among a small group of Islamist exiles in London who urged the British government yesterday not to betray Muslims “by deporting them to countries from which they fled”.

Financial Times, 16 August 2005