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Urgent need to engage with Muslim community, Govt told by terror reviewer

25th Aug 2017

Hamed Chapman

Not for the first time the British Government is being warned to start to build more meaningful relations with Muslims instead of driving them away from authorities seeking to protect the UK.

The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Max Hill, found that “the lack of meaningful engagement from the central or local government in the communities I visited was palpable.”

“The need to address the feeling of lack of engagement with these communities needs urgent attention,” he said in his latest annual report that followed a series of terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, including outside Muslim Welfare House mosque in Finsbury Park.

“A more proactive role ought to be taken by Government at all levels to address wider concerns, and thereby to avoid the perception of engagement with these communities only when things have gone wrong,” he warned, adding that only the response to the Finsbury Park terror attack was viewed as positive.

His warning echoed the findings of a two-year report entitled ‘Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All’ carried out by the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life.

“There is a broken relationship that needs to be resolved, and both parties need to be proactive in addressing this,” the Commission, chaired by former Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, said.

The Independent Reviewer is required to produce one or more reports to Parliament every year concerning the annual operation of the relevant terrorism legislation in Britain. It was the first carried out by Hill since taking over the post in March.

In particular, he took aim at calls that have become so routine from senior politicians and most recently include Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, for Muslims to somehow to “do more” to fight extremism.

“Many in the Muslim communities are already doing a great deal and if they could be doing ‘more’, no one appears to have made clear what that means,” Hill wrote in a foreword to his report last month.

“Mosques and Muslim community centres feel under pressure to denounce terrorist attacks, even when the perpetrator/s come from entirely different parts of the country. Several participants expressed to me their sense that, were they to fail to issue messages denouncing every act of terrorism, they would be blamed for being complicit in those acts.”

The Independent Reviewer travelled to Bradford, Leicester, Manchester as well as London to hold meetings with Muslim communities. He said that many were already doing a great deal and “if they could be doing ‘more’, no one appears to have made clear what that means.”

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