Shaaz Mahboob: It's time for moderate Muslims to step forward

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The Independent Online

I cannot hide my sense of relief reading about Islam4UK's forthcoming proscription. For the time it takes for Anjem Choudary and his followers to strategise their next move and re-emerge under a rebranded image, matched with an equally incongruous yet offensive stunt to attract maximum publicity, the media would have one less story featuring the absurdities of fringe Muslim groups determined to destroy the peace and cultural harmony of this country.

The ban is a welcome sign that the Government is finally taking notice of individuals found abusing the right to free speech. Perhaps its next action will be against far-right organisations – if it holds back, it will raise serious questions about the selective application of powerful tools such as proscription.

The disproportionate media coverage given to the dozen or so Islam4UK core activists must also be toned down. It is groups like mine, comprised of law-abiding well-integrated Muslims, which should increasingly come to the fore and snatch the limelight away from the lunatic few. One will not be able to blame the media the next time they feature the antics of Mr Anjem's crew if moderate Muslims do not fill the public sphere themselves.

The writer is vice-chair of British Muslims for Secular Democracy

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