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London Terror Bombings, Four Years Later

  • Rachel Smalley

It has been four years since four suicide bombers detonated bombs on London's transport system killing 52 people. The July 7 attacks left Britain reeling and in the months that followed, the government began working with the country's Islamic leaders to try to stop young Muslims from turning to extremism. Yet, while a recent report found that almost 80 percent of British Muslims identify with their country, only ten percent feel they are an integrated member of society.

Rashid Ansari is one of 90,000 Muslims studying in Britain. Since the attacks of July 7, 2005, he says Muslims are often viewed with suspicion.

"At times, you do have people giving you weird glances but that is down to people's ignorance and prejudices and what I would suggest is that people should get to know people because you can't judge a book by its cover," says Rashid Ansari, who wears a traditional Muslim beard.

Britain is home to an estimated 2.4 million Muslims, and while a recent survey revealed that the vast majority identify with Britain, only one in ten said they feel like an integrated member of society.

Mokhtar Badri, vice chair of the Muslim Association of Britain, says integration in the work place and the community can prove difficult.

"They are being faced by social problems, by Islamaphobia for example or racism, and these challenges should be approached by the Muslim community as well as by the larger society," says Mokhtar Badri.

In the wake of the July 7 attacks, when three of the four suicide bombers were identified as young, British-born Muslims, the government began to work with Islamic leaders in a bid to stop young Muslims from feeling disenfranchised and marginalized.

Today, Muslim Youth Net is a recipient of government funding. the spokeswoman for Muslim Youth Net, Rukaiya Jeraj, says the group offers support to young British Muslims through a Web site and a helpline.

"We're helping them to find a voice and we're empowering them to talk about these issues, and ultimately if they feel like a stronger, more cohesive person within themselves, that can only lead to strong, more cohesive societies within the British community," says Jeraj.

Rashid Ansari, a British Muslim student, blames some media outlets for the alienation of young British Muslims, by often implying that those who follow Islam, must also support terrorism.

"The language that is used in the media - particularly in some of the tabloids - is very aggressive. And it makes Muslims feel very intimidated at times," says Ansari.

But everyday life in Britain is positive for most Muslims, according to the Muslim Association. But, Mokhtar Badir says for that to continue, young Muslims must rise to the challenge and commit to an integrated future.

"If they alienate themselves, if they accept to be marginalized, they will be left behind," says Badir.

The British government continues to call for tolerance, acceptance, and understanding from all sides of the community; but many say that full integration in Britain's multi-cultural society is likely to remain an ongoing issue.