London Mayor: Don't demonise Muslims over bombs
Published by webmaster for 24dash.com in Local Government
Ken Livingstone is urging people not to demonise Muslims over terror attacks
London's Mayor Ken Livingstone today urged people not to demonise Muslims in the wake of the failed car bombs in the capital.
Mr Livingstone said that individuals who were ready to turn to terrorism represented a tiny minority of Britain's Muslims, while the community as a whole was more law-abiding than other sections of society.
He pointed the finger at Saudi Arabia's ruling royal family for fuelling Islamist extremism by exporting their intolerant Wahhabist beliefs.
And he criticised successive British governments for failing to confront the Saudis over their funding of extremist religious schools and groupings around the world.
Mr Livingstone told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "In this city, Muslims are more likely to be law-abiding than non-Muslims and less likely to support the use of violence to achieve political ends than non-Muslims, and they have played a good and active and growing role in creating a multi-cultural society."
He pointed out that similar acts of terror were carried out eight years ago by white extremist David Copeland who planted three bombs across London, while there had recently been a major discovery of materials which could be used in bomb-making linked to far-right groupings.
"All I am interested in as mayor is that we try to prevent all acts of violence whether it is by a disaffected young member of the BNP or whether it is by an Islamist or a Wahhabist supporter," he said.
It was important to "recognise that that doesn't mean that all white men are potentially a threat to society any more than all Muslims are," said the mayor.
Intelligence suggested that the war in Iraq represented a greater grievance among young Muslims in the UK than Afghanistan, he said.
But he added that tensions were heightened by relative disadvantage within British society, where young Muslims were two and a half times more likely to be unemployed than other workers. He urged employers to ensure that their workforces reflected the population of the area where they operate.
Mr Livingstone was critical of the UK Government's history of support for Saudi Arabia.
"We have got to understand that when we talk about the Wahhabi strand of Islam, which is very intolerant, our major problem in dealing with it is that it flows out of Saudi Arabia," he said.
"It is the official religion of the royal family there and they are one of our main buyers of arms. For a very long time, politicians at national level were refusing to be sufficiently critical of the fact that the Saudi regime didn't clean up its act.
"Now we are assured that they have, but there's been decades of literally hundreds of millions of pounds flowing out of Saudi Arabia with official backing into the most intolerant strand of Islam, buying influence all over the world for it.
"I think we have to be absolutely clear that that is not still going on. I don't have access to the sort of MI6 briefing to say whether that's come to an end or not."
Copyright Press Association 2007
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