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UK Muslims fear backlash over airline terror plot

Recent opinion polls suggest that young Muslims in the country are experiencing a high degree of alienation.

india Updated: Aug 12, 2006 12:56 IST

Muslim leaders here reacted with anxiety and scepticism after 24 people, all British citizens with many believed to be of Pakistani origin, were arrested overnight in connection with a plot to down US-bound planes.

News of a terror plot to blow up as many as 10 civilian planes brought back bitter memories for Britain's Muslims, who feel they had also been unfairly singled out in the wake of last year's London train bombings.

"There is a danger of stigmatising a whole community," said Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain.

"We applaud the action of the police in taking appropriate action to avert a tragedy...(but) we should not allow certain sections of the media and politicians to use the opportunity to carry out a diatribe against us," he told the 'Guardian' daily.

Muslim men said they were again getting nervous glances from passers-by, something they had experienced in the aftermath of the July 2005 London blasts, and are fearful of a spike in hate crimes and discrimination in jobs.

Recent opinion polls suggested that young Muslims in the country are experiencing a high degree of alienation.

Fahad Ansari, a member of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, felt that the Muslim community was being increasingly targeted.

"Over the last few years, we have seen many high-profile raids like this plastered over the press to terrify the public. It is causing a lot of mass hysteria," he said.

Ansari also suggested that the government might have timed the raids to deflect criticism over Britain's stance on the Lebanon crisis.