In Bradford, the Muslim anger is directed at the United States

British Mosque
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It was not by design that 17-year-old Zaroon Hussain knelt down to afternoon prayers in Bradford yesterday wearing a body-warmer decorated with the letters "NYC" – New York City.

Mr Hussain, an apparently brilliant 19-year-old A-level student and prospective dentist, insisted he "just always wears it". The same could be said of the sweatshirt decorated with a small American flag and worn by Shahid Ali, 18, who knelt near him with 50 others in the converted church hall which is Manningham's Victor Street mosque.

Mr Ali, a youth leader at the mosque, could not profess to be feeling for the American nation what he felt for its people, and from behind a cool veneer his community's marked frustration at the US role in Muslim nations was manifest.

"This might not be the right way of going about it but they might feel compelled," he said of the fundamentalists of whichever shade who perpetrated the attacks.

"People from Palestine see the peace talks breaking down and don't feel they can be heard by speech."

Tracing the sense of Muslim injustice from the decline of the Ottoman empire to the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, Mr Ali said: "Those children Westerners saw dancing and enjoying everything in Palestine, many of their brothers and sisters and elders have been killed in the Middle East conflict."

The St George's Cross flew at half mast above the cathedral in Bradford and dozens arrived for special prayers but even among more reserved mosque elders, the same sentiment surfaced amid the expressions of horror and sadness.

Khadim Hussain, a Victor Street mosque leader and executive commitee member of Bradford's Council for Mosques, was upset by the US's immediate suggestion that Muslims must be to blame. "America should go down to the roots of why this happened," he said. "In American bombings Iraqi people were killed and hundreds of thousands of young kids have died in Iraq through a lack of drugs and food [caused by sanctions]. America should act like a leader."

If Mr Hussain feels the sting of injustice, the wild teenage boys who are beyond the range of the computer classes that he runs to attract Manningham's disenchanted youth off the streets will most certainly feel it more strongly.

The T-shirts emblazoned with the figure of Osama bin Laden which were worn on the front line of Bradford's riots, acted out a few hundred yards away from the mosque in July, testified to the strength of fundamentalist opinion among some third and fourth generation Muslims.

Some of the city's mosques have been approached by Omar Bakri Muhammad, the London-based voice of extreme fanaticism, who has called on Muslims to rise up in a jihad, holy war, against America and its allies by joining his Al Muhajiroun ("The voice, eyes and ears of the Muslims") group.

"Some of the older boys are forming a mujaheddin group," one disaffected 16-year-old told The Independent at the height of the riots. "They're our role models, the Afghans."

At his second-hand electrical goods store in a Muslim neighbourhood on Leeds Road, Mohammed Saghir, a successful Bradford businessman delivered an acute sense of America's human loss. "Horrible, dreadful. What justification can there be for taking lives like this," he said.

Then came the sting. "The Americans are just trying to be a big policeman," he said. "They just go to any country they choose and put sanctions on. They are playing a God's game. I am very sorry but they know what they have done."