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Not all British Muslims are killers, but...

Once again, British Muslims are in the spotlight over terrorism

Mohamed Chebarro

Published: Updated:

Once again, British Muslims are in the spotlight. Some British Muslim community leaders are issuing statements condemning violence and rejecting the self-styled jihadists springing from the otherwise peaceful neighborhoods of Britain and fighting in Syria, Iraq and beyond.

Pressure on governments to disown those of its citizens involved in terrorist acts is ratcheting up, while experts are studying means to curb the potential threats posed to Britain by returning, battle-hardened, British Muslims.

In the short term, no one knows the extent of that threat. However, the circumstances are putting a large section of British Muslim society – many of whom are innocent - in the spotlight.

Tried and failed

The UK government has tried and clearly failed to root out many ills within the British Muslim community, a community that seemed to become more vocal post Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa to kill writer Salman Rushdie.

The apparent failure could be attributed to many factors, among them are lacking assessments, the council offered by experts rooted in political Islam and the spread of an ideology bent on heritage imported from their native lands such as Pakistan, Iran and the wider Muslim world. Blind faith is also a problem, some youths sympathize with political refugees to the point that they are willing to break the law.

Religious mullahs deemed dangerous in their home countries were given a government platform [in the UK]

Mohamed Chebarro

Observing the heightened debate over how to curb violence on British streets after 7/7 - the coordinated terrorist attack on the London transport system - one could be amazed to find that would- be jihad sympathizers were lecturing the government on how to win the youth.

Religious mullahs deemed dangerous in their home countries were given a government platform and support to deliver extreme narratives disguised as tolerant methods to win the hearts and minds of young British Muslims.

We saw millions spent on grooming moderate voices to stand up to the extreme narrative of self-styled preachers.

Moderate Muslim road shows were organized in various parts of the UK. Special faith based festivals and mosque visits became central to ministerial agendas. Police guidelines for searching a British Muslim house were issued, alerting law enforcement agents not to enter Muslim premises if a male is not present. These are just a few examples of measures and steps taken to promote a more multi-cultural and tolerant Britain.

Ideally, British Muslims should not be penalized due to the actions of a few, clearly radicalized people.

Furthermore, policies related to integration, assimilation and education must be reviewed, as I believe the inclusivity bids have gone too far.

Remain inclusive

Britain must remain hospitable to otherwise vulnerable people from around the world, just as the rule of law must remain supreme.

Self-appointed community leaders must not become the authors of what the Muslim British should or should not do.

Self-appointed activists must not speak on behalf of hard working, tax paying British Muslims, who remain happy to cast their votes to express their views as all other citizens do.

Radical figures will remain more attractive to some Muslim youths growing up in disenfranchised neighborhoods in North London, Northern New York or Paris.

The Internet and the extremist forums it offers will always persuade the few. Some extra efforts should also be made to root out would-be extreme preachers and banned groups from vulnerable neighborhoods.

Regardless of color and faith, many came to the UK for its freedom, democracy and rule of law.

With time, some areas across the country started to resemble down town Dhaka or Kabul, which is great as long as people there uphold the values of the land and its ethos. British Muslims should equally remind themselves that they once fled injustice, hardship and intolerance. Britain became their home for what it represented and it is not a place to recreate the religious or ethnic barriers that plagued the originating countries of so many Brits and especially British Muslims. The truth is, however, not all British Muslims are killers, nor should they be treated this way.

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Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.