British institute: Ban Al Qaida sympathizers from mosques

Sunday, August 24, 2003

LONDON Britain has been urged to prevent Al Qaida sympathizers from access to mosques in the country.

A British institute said in a publication that the government must prevent Muslims who preach jihad, or holy war, from working in British mosques. The think tank warned that Al Qaida supporters have taken control of Britain's 1.5 million-member Muslim community.

"It seems to be extremely difficult for most moderate Muslims to take up any public positions against those of the ideological Islamists and to retain credibility within their own communities," Civitas, the institute, said in a report. "There is a grave risk of a backlash against peaceable Muslims in response to the terrorist activities of some Islamists."

The report, entitled "The West, Islam and Islamism," said Muslims in the West must accept its values as other religious and ethnic minorities have done. The study warned that British Muslims must avow what was termed Islamic fundamentalism.

"The distinction depends in practice on moderate Muslims being more forthright in distinguishing themselves from their ideological co-religionists," the report said.

Britain has ensured freedom of religion for clerics, including for mosque preachers. This includes the the right of clerics to work without a permit.

The report, authored by Lady Cox, a prominent human rights campaigner, and John Marks, director of the Education Research Trust, called for restriction of British immigration to "prevent a further influx of Islamist ideologues." The study said previous efforts to examine the issue of Islamic extremism in Britain have been hampered by critics who charge that all Muslims have been targeted.

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