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Senior British Police Officer Says Anti-Terror Efforts Alienating Muslims


One of Britain's top police officers says anti-terror laws risk creating more radicals among the country's Muslim population. In a speech delivered Monday, he says toughened counter-terrorism laws in Western countries are fueling indirect discrimination against Muslims.

In a blunt speech to the National Black Police Association in Manchester, Assistant Police Commissioner said anti-terror efforts have created a climate of what he termed "Islamophobia". Such a climate, he said, has angered young Muslims and made them susceptible to exploitation by Islamic radicals.

Commissioner Ghaffur, who is Britain's most senior Muslim police officer, called for a full judicial inquiry into the root causes of radicalization in Britain's Muslim communities.

"What we need is an evidence-based approach to identifying what the real causes are," he said. "And I, therefore, support those who have been calling for an independent review of the issues young Muslims are facing in the community themselves."

Britain is home to more than 1.5 million Muslims, most of them immigrants from South Asian countries and their descendants.

Fifty-two people were killed in suicide attacks on London's subway system on July 7 of last year. The attackers were all young British Muslims. Following that attack, Britain tightened its anti-terror laws.

Commissioner Ghaffur said people were being stopped and searched on the basis of appearance, rather than intelligence information.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission of Britain, told VOA that what he described as racial profiling by police has become more commonplace since the subway attacks. "Unfortunately, we have been sort of facing cases after cases of people who have been unduly sort of stopped, and not just stopped and searched, but stopped and harassed and searched," said Shadjareh. "And it's been totally counterproductive. It's about time that the Metropolitan Police acknowledged the problem and tried to find remedies."

Shadjareh endorsed Commissioner Ghaffur's call for a judicial inquiry, but said it should examine what he said is a growing Islamophobic climate in Britain. "I don't think radicalization, which means different things to different people, is the issue," he noted. "I think what we need, we need a full inquiry into the level of Islamophobia that is being played out in the policing, and find remedies to ratify that."

A British Home Office spokesman said Britain's counter-terrorism efforts are not aimed at any one race or religion or particular group, but at terrorists, and that the government is committed to improving relations with the Muslim community.

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