Comment: Farooq Murad, Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain
JULY 7th 2010 marks the fifth anniversary of the London bombings which claimed the lives of 52 people.
Today a delegation of British Muslims will offer their condolences to the families affected by laying a wreath at the 7/7 Memorial Site in Hyde Park, erected to remember the victims of the atrocity.
Here Farooq Murad, Secretary General of The Muslim Council of Britain tells us how the attack changed Britain.
“It has been five years since the senseless and barbaric attacks on the London’s public transport network. On this poignant anniversary, we extend our deepest condolences to the victims, the survivors and their families. Attacks on innocents have no justification in Islam. The Muslim Council of Britain rejects in the strongest terms the agenda of hatred and division that led 52 people to lose their lives and hundreds to be injured. We also recognise that our community must remain vigilant and steadfast against those who commit such acts in the name of Islam and thus pervert our faith for their own ends.
We appreciate the need for Muslims to take the initiative in denying extremists traction in our communities and empowering ordinary people to celebrate our shared history. Our booklet, ‘Remembering the Brave’ for example, highlights the sacrifices of Muslims in defending Britain in the First and Second World Wars.
In schools, mosques and community centres we are offering a counter-narrative to those in the mainstream who are determined to cast Islam’s relationship with the West as always destructive and always antagonistic. We are forging bonds with other faith and civil society groups, and need to seek partnership with local and national government in order to raise the level of the debate on the complex issues facing Muslims in the UK.
Some have tried to paint 7/7 in terms of a war between Muslims and wider community, but two of the bombings, at Edgware Road and Aldgate, took place in areas with large Muslim populations. This was not an attack by one community on another; this was an attack on the very concept of an open pluralistic society and all those, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, who wish to be part of it. Among those killed there were four promising young Muslims who came from diverse backgrounds.
A grave and unfortunate fallout from this tragic event is highlighted by the recent surveys which have shown that despite British Muslims having a high affinity with this country, fellow Britons associate Islam and Muslims with terrorism.
Sadly, the responses of some policy-makers and commentators have made matters worse by refusing to see Muslims as anything other than a security issue, or worse still, using the understandable suspicion that followed 7/7 as a vehicle for overt xenophobia. The Prevent and Contest strategies, draconian anti-terror legislation and increasingly polarised debates about the headscarf and other practices have fostered an atmosphere where Muslims and Muslim issues are seen as separate from the rest of society.
As we commemorate the tragic events of 7/7, it is far from clear what lessons have been learned. Five years on, our society is arguably more polarised and less open. Those who died on July 7th 2005 represented every aspect of our society, rich and poor, black and white, people of all faiths and none. For their sake, and for our own, as a nation, we must make sure that as we combat extremism on all sides, we do not damage the open, liberal society for which we are all fighting.”