Letters: Wake-up call we British Muslims needed, 'Pure evil' and others

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The Independent Online

Maybe this is the terrible wake-up call we British Muslims needed

Sir: I am an average British Muslim trying to look after my children and go about my daily business. The indiscriminate attacks in London by a few evil twisted people have again caused our religion to be tarnished. Maybe this was the terrible wake-up call that we needed: it's time we stopped letting people like these hijack our religion, brainwash our children and destroy the very fabric of our society.

People like this will use twisted lies and say the UK is anti-Islamic. It is very convenient to forget Bosnia, the freedom to practise our religion as we want, the human rights we have that we would never have in our countries of origin. Others claim Iraq as a cause for grievance. Have they forgotten the hundreds of thousands of people who walked with us in the anti-war demos before the war?

To my Muslim brothers, community leaders, mosque committee members and anyone who feels what happened in London was wrong, I would say if you see extremism in the streets, in our mosques, in our homes, in our friends and in our children we must try and change this with common sense and reasoning. If this does not work then we must use the proper authorities to report it.

I remember growing up in the pre-9/11 era; people scoffed at Enoch Powell's "rivers of blood" speech. Now there is distrust and I fear al-Qa'ida have destroyed all we worked so hard so many years to create.

If anyone knows anything about the London attacks I urge you to contact the relevant authorities. There is nothing un-Islamic about helping the authorities. God has said: "And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind" (5:32). These people are cold-blooded murderers. Do they really think God will welcome them into paradise with so much innocent blood on their hands?



'Pure evil' and the Iraq arguments

Sir: At 9:20am on Thursday 7 July, I walked out of Aldgate station in to the damp, cold July air. My hair was black with soot but sparkling slightly from broken glass. I was in the carriage behind the explosion, yet, incredibly, I had just a few small cuts on the back of my neck.

I was directed across the road to join a queue for a bus, which took me and about 40 others to the Royal London Hospital. From the television there, I started to realise that the injured I saw being treated, the bodies I saw on the track and the screams I heard in the carriages ahead of mine were just a fraction of the horror.

By the end of the day, I was already thinking about Iraq. At first, it seemed a logical conclusion but I reflected further over the weekend, as the shock wore off, and it did not feel right to blame this on the war. I could not dignify the bombers with the title freedom fighters.

Yasmin Alibhai Brown (Opinion, 11 July) made the point eloquently in her column: "This was about pure, hollow evil." I still believe invading Iraq was wrong, and that there are injustices to put right, but now is not the time to resurrect those arguments. We need to do all we can to stop such hatred being unleashed again.



Sir: I walk past two great big police walls near Russell Square each day on my way home from work. I imagine how terrible it must be for those people and their families, and I think about why this has happened and what we can do to prevent it happening again.

There was no proven link between terrorism and Saddam. We had flimsy evidence of weapons of mass destruction. We did not have the backing of the international community. We invaded Iraq with no evidence of an imminent threat to our country. We sent our soldiers in there to risk their lives, and it looks like we have increased the risk to civilian lives as well. I realise that there may actually be no link between our occupation of Iraq and these recent bombings, but I think there is a far greater chance of one than of any of the tenuous links the Government strung together to get us to invade in the first place.

Our involvement in Afghan-istan was right, and if this happened because of that then I can take that on the chin, but if this happened, if this is likely to happen again, because of our involvement in Iraq, based on evidence that amounted to nothing more than a rehashed university paper and a few pictures of trucks, then Tony Blair needs to take responsibility for some sloppy decision making and go.



Sir: I wholeheartedly agree with Sandra Necchi (Letter: "A retort that defies common sense", 14 July) about the extraordinary reluctance of our politicians to see a link between Iraq and the London bombings.

If the Prime Minister was to have been direct with the British public, what he should have said on Monday in the House of Commons is as follows: "In our war with al-Qa'ida we embarked on a policy of bringing democracy to Iraq. This was to have the benefits to the West of bringing to power in Iraq a government which would have provided a model that other Middle East countries could follow, thereby reducing the number of Islamic fundamentalist territories that act as recruiting grounds for al-Qa'ida. It would also be a government with which we in the West could do business. Al -Qa'ida has fought back by attacking our cities.

"To withdraw from Iraq would be to abandon our strategy and would be defeat. Therefore we must continue our presence in Iraq and must seek to stop al-Qa'ida terrorist attacks in our cities as best we can."

Instead the Prime Minister said about the bombings that this "is a form of terrorism aimed at our way of life, not at any particular government or any particular policy".

Could it be that the reason the Prime Minister didn't make the former speech is that his judgment that the invasion of Iraq would ultimately reduce al-Qa'ida influence must now be suspect? Could it be that the reason he says al-Qa'ida seeks to destroy our western way of life is that he needs to present the enemy in such a light that it would be inappropriate or unpatriotic to consider any other course than a continuation of existing policies, policies which in reality are already failing.



Sir: The mantras of blaming British foreign policy for the murder of innocents in London, would merely have a distasteful quality by now if they did not also have the effect of legitimising those who seek glorification for their monstrous acts.

The well-meaning might intend to encourage moderation among Muslims by sharing their pain and understanding their supposed grievances, but the effect is to acknowledge there is some justification for the terror and to offer support for those who will recruit the next wave of fanatics.

Sadly, the tenor of comments in your journal seems bent on supporting this.



Sir: Those who say that the London bombings are the price we are paying for our part in the Iraq war should reflect on the possibility that this is the price we are paying for their hate-creating anti-war propaganda.



What does it really say in the Koran?

Sir: I am not a Muslim and have no first-hand knowledge of the Koran or its teachings. What I am aware of is that there are two opposing groups of people who claim equally legitimate Islamic theologies. On one hand are those described as "moderates", who take the view that nowhere in the Koran is sanction given for acts of hatred and violence. On the other hand are those described as "fundamentalists", who claim their actions of terrorism and violence are in accordance with the Koran's teachings.

In my ignorance, whom am I to believe? In the Christian holy books there is justification for a whole spectrum of activities, good and bad, and the accepted interpretation varies across the faith. If this is the case with the Koran, then surely it is dishonest to claim that there is no justification for acts of violence in the book - rather it's a case of how you wish to read it.

I would like to see an intelligent televised debate in which the "moderates" and the "fundamentalists" discuss their differing interpretations of the Koran, which will allow the rest of us to form some kind of informed opinion on the matter, having heard the arguments from both sides.



Bombers rewarded by undeserved fame

Sir: I have been using my longer route into work since the suspension of the Piccadilly Line, to read your paper and try to get my head around the events of 7 July.

I have noted with admiration the Londoners who declare that they will not be broken, and indeed I too have little choice but to react the same way - I have to get to work! However, the events of last Thursday were not aimed at us ordinary people. The terrorists are unlikely to care whether we are afraid or not.

The people who died last week were pawns in the terrorists' route to a supposed martyrdom, and after the broadcasting of their identities everywhere al-Qa'ida groups worldwide will hail them as such. Many good Muslims, particularly in the terrorists' neighbourhoods, will suffer for it.

I wish there was a way in which the terrorists could remain a faceless evil, except to those in authority, and their names sink into obscurity. They don't deserve column inches, and their "fame" may inspire others to cause more atrocities.



On target to cut greenhouse gas

Sir: Your charts showing progress to Kyoto targets by major industrial nations are misleading (5 July). The UK is rightly shown as currently beyond our Kyoto target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12.5 per cent, one of the few developed countries to be in this position. It then projects that UK emissions will rise above this target.

In fact our latest modelling shows that current policies will lead to a continued reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to 20.7 per cent below 1990 levels in 2010. This does not take into account further measures which will be decided in the current Climate Change Programme Review, which will be announced later this year and which is also aimed at ensuring that the UK's target of a 20 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 is achieved.



Sir: Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the world's leading climate scientists have all got it wrong, and that the climate change sceptics are right after all. It's highly unlikely, but not completely impossible: the Earth is not a repeatable experiment, and 100 per cent certainty is only possible in retrospect.

If we take action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, there's a very small (but non-zero) possibility that it will turn out to have been unnecessary. Conversely, if we choose not to act now, there's a very high probability that it will then be too late.

A 1 per cent risk of regretting all the time we could have spent flying everywhere, keeping the patio heater on full blast, and driving SUVs? Or a 99 per cent risk of wondering why we trashed a perfectly good planet?



Sir: The largest financial undertaking that most people make is a mortgage on their main residence. The term of most mortgages is a quarter of a century and sometimes more. This timescale makes the issue of global heating significant for some new mortgage holders.

I wouldn't consider buying any property within fifty to a hundred feet of sea level. At some point the mortgage providers will wake up to the risk too.



Sir: After all the speeches, meetings, negotiations, compromises, cajoling and proposed solutions to convince the USA that we are serious about carbon emissions contributing to global warming; what do we end the week with? The British Grand Prix.



Police state

Sir: If the bombings were the work of British citizens, they could only have been stopped by surveillance that would leave the Stasi looking like amateurs; I think I'll take my chances with the protection from the police under their current powers rather than wake up one day to find that we must all be electronically tagged.



No silence for Baghdad

Sir: It is all so terribly sad and as someone who has lost a son I can understand the terrible anguish and bewilderment that the relatives are suffering. This will go on for years and they need all the help that friends and family can give them. But Tony Blair, Ken Livingstone and the press are making it so cloyingly sentimental. On Wednesday more than 20 children were blown up in Baghdad. Where is the silence for them? Where is our pity?



One community

Sir: I fail to understand why Muslims are expected to openly distance themselves from and condemn perpetrators of violence who happen to be Muslim. They are no more responsible for the terrorists than I am for the behaviour of the BNP and other white racists. It is for all of us to condemn, as one community. When we yoke all Muslims together and imply their difference from other British citizens we are racist ourselves.



Nothing inevitable

Sir: It has quickly become fashionable to describe the London bombings as "inevitable", but this fatalism is a mistake. Something is inevitable only if preventative measures are impossible. In this case, as we sadly know, the security services failed to prevent the bombings, but with better intelligence they could have intercepted the terrorist group earlier. It was not impossible to prevent them, just very difficult. The security services need to work even harder. If terrorist attacks were inevitable there would be no point in having security services at all.