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April - May 2004

Political News

As I See It

by Krishan Gopal Dutt

Rehabilitation Not Retribution
First of all it has to be acknowledged that the case of the nine Muslim youth holding British nationality and accused of actively colluding with Al-Qaeda terrorists-enemy of Britain- is of serious concern to and acute dilemma for the British nation, particularly for the Muslim community resident in this country.
And let it be said from the very outset that though these young men of Pakistani origin had clearly indulged in anti-British activities and can be classified as traitors, instead of any talks of meting out harsh punishment to this group, five of whom had been returned to UK from the American Guantanamo Bay detention centre, we should be thinking in terms of how best to rehabilitate these brainwashed and misguided young men, many of whom were born in Britain.However, these nine British Muslims must, first of all, renounce any support for or affiliation with Al-Qaeda, and sign an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. This would be an absolute prerequisite.
Then senior officers from the Home Office and Scotland Yard (which could include Deputy Assistant Commissioner Ghaffur), along with responsible leaders from the Muslim community including, say, Lord Nazir Ahmed as advisers, could set up a special task force and discuss practical ways and means to assist these men to completely disassociate themselves from Islamic terrorism, and to enable them to happily integrate into the mainstream British society. This, in my view, would be the most appropriate way to deal with a situation that has caused such a furore.
Having said that, it must also be agreed that stringent restrictions be imposed on those Mullahs like the notorious one-eyed Abu Hamza of Egyptian origin who openly and defiantly engaged in anti-British rhetoric at Friday prayers in mosques. Also, since the view of the English people who form a vast majority (80%) of the British populace ought to be taken in this matter, a public debate throughout the country should be held as to how best the government should deal effectively with alien religious bigots and sectarian rabble- rousers who don't seem to happily fit into a predominantly-Christian society nor blend within the British democratic way of life.
Moderate Muslims Oppose Extremists
In in-depth discussions with five Muslim gentlemen of moderate and liberal views who believe in non-violent and peaceful negotiations as opposed to Al-Qaeda's terror tactics, I, as an analyst on Islamic extremism, present here their candid views, and fears and hopes, and the far-reaching implications for Muslims world-wide.{The interviewees' identity has not been disclosed to protect them from possible reprisals from extremists]
Yusufzai In London
"When uneducated and fiery Mullahs with a very narrow outlook on life incite fellow Muslims at public meetings and in mosques with their rabid anti-west rhetoric, they are not serving any useful purpose whatsoever for the followers of Islam; they are instead, unwittingly creating anti-Muslim feelings among the indigenous British people which does not bode well for the Muslim minority community resident in the UK," said Yusufzai as I sat in his flat in Ealing with a plateful of Kabuli Pullao and crispy Afghan Naan, I had enjoyed so much during my stay in Kabul many years ago.
I had first met Yusufzai - an octogenarian, retired electrical engineer, and originally from Afghanistan - at an Afghan conference in London in 1993 when I was invited as one of the speakers (in recognition of my knowledge of Afghan affairs, having lived as a journalist in Kabul for three years).

Yusufzai was highly critical of those radical Muslims who, while enjoying the many benefits of a good life in Britain, were not faithful to the country of their domicile and openly showed pro-Al-Qaeda sentiments. "They should be sent back to Islamabad or any other place of origin, and leave us in peace," declared Yusufzai as he proceeded to show me a faded 1942 sepia photograph of himself as a young soldier in the British Indian army.
Qureishi In Delhi
Sitting cross-legged on a gorgeous crimson Persian carpet with a snow-white table cloth spread on top, at the residence of Qureishi Saheb in a predominantly-Muslim Mohalla in the old sector of the city not far from the Jama Masjid, I tucked into a sumptuous Mughlai lunch as my generous host talked of 'the good old days during the British Raj' when Hindus and Muslims lived side by side in harmony and peace.

Turning to the issue of Al-Qaeda's threat to national security in Kashmir and other parts of India, Qureishi, a scion of the illustrious Qureishi clan which traces its origin to Mecca at the time of Prophet Mohammad, said ruefully, "The evil of Al-Qaeda has appeared as a terrible jinn (demon), and as a result of their vicious campaign of terror and murder, Indian Muslims were now under suspicion all the time. What a horrible situation!"
Qureishi also deplored the detrimental effect of Islamic militancy on the Muslim youth some of whom had been so brain-washed that they considered Osama bin Laden as a new Saviour of Islam. (Around that time pictures of young Muslims at Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid defiantly holding aloft pictures of Osama with AK47 rifle were splashed across the front page of local newspapers).

"As a loyal Hindustani wholly opposed to any religious fanaticism or sectarian violence, I and my people deplore the threat from the Al-Qaeda ''Shaitaan' (devil), and I pray to Allah that hopefully we should, sooner or later, be rid of this nauseating scourge," said Qureishi as he scanned the local Urdu newspaper.

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