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Muslims angry over Minister's remarks

By Hasan Suroor

LONDON, MARCH 3. Britain's Muslim community has reacted with anger to a Minister's statement that Muslims are likely to be stopped and searched by the police more often than others because the threat of terrorism comes from those acting in the name of Islam.

Muslim activists accused the Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears, of "legitimising'' Islamophobia and "demonising'' the community after she told a Parliamentary committee that Muslims should accept the "reality'' that they were more likely to be the focus of anti-terror measures.

"The threat is most likely to come from those people associated with an extreme form of Islam or who are falsely hiding behind Islam... It means that some of our counter-terrorism powers will be disproportionately experienced by the Muslim community. That is the reality and we should recognise that,'' she said.

Marsha Singh, a senior Sikh MP, echoed the Muslim reaction saying that fight against terror should be "intelligence-led, not appearance-led.''

"People of Sikh appearance with beards and turbans have experienced being stopped because they are being put in the same bracket as Muslims,'' he said.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, called Ms. Blears' remarks "outrageous'' and said: "It is a legitimisation for a backlash and for racists to have an onslaught on our community.''

He said of the 12 persons from ethnic backgrounds found guilty of terrorist acts in Britain after the 9/11 attacks only four were Muslims..

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