Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Clash of Civilizations: London Longing for Lebanon...

he's not wrong...

so is he wrong to speak out?

he's not wrong...

so is he wrong to analyze?


(...)

he's not right...

but...

he's not wrong...

and...

he's got a point...

and...

his people are listening...

so...

he's got to be heard...

and...

he's got to be invited to the table...

after all...

if his "opinion" is crazy...

then...

all his followers are crazy...

and...

"war" is normal...


(...)

The New York Times

Militant London Sheik Had Predicted More Terror Attacks

By SOUAD MEKHENNET and DON VAN NATTA Jr.
Published: July 22, 2005

LONDON, July 21 - On the eve of four attempted bombings here on Thursday, Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammad, one of Britain's most outspoken militant clerics, predicted that another terrorist attack would hit London.

In a wide-ranging telephone interview late Wednesday night, Sheik Bakri also blamed the British government for the July 7 terror attacks that killed at least 56 people on three London Underground trains and a double-decker bus. He said "hundreds" of young, disaffected British-born Muslims now felt compelled to take action in Britain to protest Prime Minister Tony Blair's foreign policy, especially the support of the American-led invasion in Iraq, which they perceive as anti-Muslim.

"Unless British foreign policy is changed and they withdraw forces from Iraq, I'm afraid there's going to be a lot of attacks, just the way it happened in Madrid and the way it happened in London," he said during a 40-minute conversation.

His preaching is heard or seen by hundreds of people in central London halls and on his Web site, where he has urged young men to fight "jihad" against "occupiers" in Iraq, Israel and Chechnya. He routinely refers to the Sept. 11 hijackers as "the magnificent 19."

A Syrian-born, 47-year-old father of seven who has lived in North London for 19 years, Sheik Bakri was granted asylum in 1986, and receives public assistance of £300, or $545, each month. On the cover of The Sun on Wednesday, his photograph was accompanied with three bold words: "SEND HIM BAK."

Britain's home secretary, Charles Clarke, has identified Sheik Bakri as one of several extremist clerics who could be deported from Britain. As part of a new package of antiterror legislation, the British government is considering banning clerics from urging people to join a holy war or running a pro-jihad Web site.

Sheik Bakri said he would probably leave Britain within the next several days on his own, possibly permanently. He would not say where he intended to go.

"After all, I could worship God here, I could worship God back in Lebanon," he said. "I could do evil here, I could do that back in a Muslim country."

Sheik Bakri has preached to larger crowds of young people within the last year, blaming the United States and Britain for harming Muslims worldwide. He has also encouraged young people to join a "global jihad," but he insisted Wednesday night that he had never encouraged anyone to strike Britain. In fact, he said, he had urged some young people to take their jihad intention abroad.

"Nobody said, 'Go out in London and bomb,' " he said.

He said he believed that the British government and the British people deserved the "blame" for the July 7 attacks, saying Mr. Blair's re-election on May 5 made the attacks in London "inevitable."

"They know that the prime minister has his hands full of the blood of Muslims in Palestine and in Iraq and in Afghanistan," he said of young Muslims. But he said the policies of the West's "war on terror" had incensed young people, causing some to want to strike out against Britain. "We hear from many people who say they want to attack," he said.

Sheik Bakri has said Osama bin Laden warned European countries with troops in Iraq last April, giving them 90 days for them to remove their troops. No one listened, he said.

As for his own future, he acknowledged that he no longer felt at home in Britain. "They want to deport me, let it be," he said moments before the conversation ended. "They want to arrest me, let it be."

SOURCE - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/22/international/europe/22bakri.html

(...)

The Guardian

Muslim community reacts with sorrow

David Pallister
Friday July 22, 2005

Members of the Muslim community reacted with sorrow and anxiety to yesterday's bomb attacks.

They were fearful that the same home-grown group of radicalised Britons were responsible. But a message posted on the website of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee warned people against rushing to conclusions.

"Let's not get carried away," it said. "Remember - the Oklahoma Bomber" - a reference to the massive explosion which was initially and wrongly attributed to Islamists.


Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain, the leading moderate organisation which met with Tony Blair about seeking ways of defusing extremism in Muslim young people, said: "Today's attacks highlights the urgent need for all communities to help the police to catch those who are intent on causing such havoc in London. They must be caught before they harm more innocents."

A spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain reiterated its response to the July 7 bombs. He said: "Our policy has been clear from the very first bomb this month. Anyone who is acting to create insecurity and cause harm to people should be hunted down. The country's security should be the utmost priority."

Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission said: "It is very unclear what has happened but it is very worrying. It was bad enough what happened two weeks ago and we don't want any escalation."

Mr Shadjareh said reported hostile incidents had increased a great deal since the July 7 bombings. "And that, of course is only the number we are told about. This is not going to be helpful," he said.

A spokesman for the Islamic Society of Britain said: "We're all very shaken . This is not going to make anything easier for our community which has already been under an intense spotlight.

"We feel like [we are] on an ocean with no sign of the shore and we are going farther into the ocean. We don't know what to do. It's all too much."

SOURCE - http://www.guardian.co.uk/attackonlondon/story/0,16132,1534038,00.html

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