British Muslims a Success Story in 2004 

A library photo of Muslims leaving East London Mosque, which is Europe’s biggest Muslim community center 

By Hani Mohammad, IOL Correspondent

LONDON, December 28 (IslamOnline.net) – If a Muslim community in Europe was to be awarded first prize in integration and remarkable achievements, the British would be definitely singled out, and deservedly so.

Standing up strongly to xenophobic ideologues and the Zionist lobby, proving that they are really a heavyweight community and earning the respect of government officials and MPs are success stories very rare to hear of in the West in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, which, in effect, created a new world order.

The terrorist attacks cut both ways as they unleashed an unprecedented ferocious campaign against Islam and Muslims in the West, on the one hand, and made a large number of people in Europe to read about this religion and discover that it only preached about the need for forgiveness, love and mercy.

The year 2004 witnessed an increasing number of Britons accepting Islam. In February, the Sunday Times reported that some of the country’s top landowners and celebrities have embraced the Muslim faith.

Jonathan Birt, the son of Lord Birt; and Emma Clark, the granddaughter of former liberal prime minister Herbert Asquith; are only two of 14,000 who reverted to Islam in Britain.

“A better understanding of Islam and of Muslims will show that the differences are nowhere near as great as some would like to suggest,” London Mayor Ken Livingstone had said.

Britain's Muslims are estimated to be some 2.5 million out of the 60 million population.

Heavyweight

Tikriti was one of the prominent British activists in 2004 

British Muslims have, as a point of fact, made their voices heard and become lobby-minded.

They act acted in unison under respectable umbrella organizations like the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB).

The stop-and-search arrests and religious discrimination they suffered at the hands of hardliners have never dampened their enthusiasm or sense of patriotism.

After the Muslim support for their traditional Labour party had halved and the free fall of the party's ratings in the local and European Parliament elections, the government has come to realize the fact that the Muslim vote does really count and planned to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim citizens.

The Home Office has already unveiled plans to put forward a legislation criminalizing incitement of religious hatred.

“Such Muslim campaigns have actually paid off and scared away the Zionist lobby and the extremist right-wing,” Mohammad Sawalah, the deputy head of the Muslim League in Britain, told IslamOnline.net Monday, December 27.

Senior British parliamentarians admitted anti-terrorism laws are being used “disproportionately” against Muslims.

In a severe blow to Prime Minister Tony Blair's “anti-terror” measures, the House of Lords ruled on December 16 that detention of foreign “terror suspects” without trial was illegal.

Political Success

London Mayor Ken Livingstone (R) picked Muslim Yasmin Qureshi as his human rights advisor 

Muslims also stood as candidates representing various political parties in the country’s elections and also contested in the European parliamentary election.

Muslim activist Anas Al-Tikriti, who stood for the European Parliament elections under Respect party, must be proud that 40 percent of the Muslim voters, who traditionally vote Labour, cast their ballots in favor of his nascent party.

Tikriti hailed his party’s performance in the elections, especially for a party that did not exist just 20 weeks ago before the election. 

“To put it in comparison, the 30-year-old Greens party has captured a meager two seats,” in the 732-seat European legislature, he had told IOL.

Earlier in the month, Ken Livingstone appointed a Muslim woman as his new human rights advisor.

Yasmin Qureshi, a barrister whose experience includes heading the Criminal Legal Section of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and the Department of Judicial Administration in Kosovo, will replace Graham Tope.

Furthermore, the Foreign Office has released a CD, reminding the Muslim community that their contribution “is not just a matter of history, but a reality in every walk of life".  

Countering Xenophobes

British Muslims, additionally, have stood up strongly to xenophobic ideologues, who thought that their anti-Islam rants would go unpunished.

British police arrested earlier in the month the leader of the extremist British National Party (BNP), Nick Griffin, for describing Islam as “wicked, vicious faith has expanded through a handful of cranky lunatics about 1,300 years ago until it's now sweeping country after country.” 

Last July, Barclays, Britain's third-biggest bank, closed the BNP’s accounts thanks to growing influence of the Muslim community. 

In January, the MCB lodged a complaint with the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and the BBC, urging robust disciplinary action against columnist and presenter Robert Kilroy-Silk.

Thanks to an immediate Muslim action, the BBC suspended the presenter's morning show pending an investigation, while Kilroy-Silk offered an apology over describing Arabs as “suicide bombers, limb amputators, and women repressors.” 

According to experts, the vile campaign of the Zionist lobby in Britain against the July visit of prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has backfired and cemented the position of British Muslims in society.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) concluded that there was no legal ground to prosecute Sheikh Qaradawi as requested by Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

The mayor of London has further apologized on behalf of the people of London for the fuss that overshadowed Qaradawi’s visit and invited the prominent Muslim scholar back to the United Kingdom in October 2005. 

Islam Awareness 

One of the outstanding Muslim events in 2004 is the tenth Islam Awareness Week.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre played host last month to the national event organized by the ISB under the title “Your Muslim Neighbor.”

The one-week gala highlighted the valuable contributions made by British Muslims to everyday life in Britain.

In view of the mounting racist attacks targeting British Muslims, a new pocket guide saw the light in September 25 to educate the community about their basic rights and responsibilities in a bid to allay their fears. 

'Know Your Rights & Responsibilities' is the title of the 16-page guide, which was  published by the MCB.

Moreover, Europe’s biggest Muslim community center opened in London on June 11.

The six storey center can accommodate 10,000 worshippers, as it has a library, crèche, conference rooms, a gym and classrooms.

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