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June 07, 2006

Forest Gate raid: if the Muslim Council of Britain and sections of the media keep questioning the police, the police will not be able to do their job in protecting us - argues Jon Davies

Posted by Jon Davies
Friday's massive police raid purportedly looking for a suspected chemical bomb factory, and the conflicting accounts surrounding the shooting of the twenty-three year old Abdul Kahar, have led to many questions being asked which need urgent answers. We are visiting Muslims in Forest Gate this evening to listen to their evident concern. It is in the interest of all of us that trust is maintained and that if mistakes have been made by the police, that they are acknowledged and steps taken to rebuild relationships.

Muslim Council of Britain press release, 5th June 2006

The first action of the new Secretary of the MCB Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari was to go to Forest Gate. In the Daily Telegraph of 6th June he is pictured, along with a crowd of (presumably) Muslims facing two policemen. Dr Bari said that members of the community were beginning to ask what happened (Daily Telegraph, 6th June 2006):
the message is the confusion, it's the frustration, and to some extent anger. People want to know what exactly happened and about the intelligence – is it genuine information, is it flawed? These are questions police have to answer as soon as possible.

The Independent (5th June 2006) front page had the police "claims" paired up with the "counter-claims" (no surprise here: the suspects denied it all), under the headline:

The raid that raised more questions than answers.
On the BBC Today programme Mr Humphries could barely choke back his view that it was all "over the top".

The MCB is, of course, still demanding a "full investigation" of the London Tube and Bus Bombings. I have the feeling that "full", to the MCB, means exonerative: and that it will not be "full" until it is so.

It is hard to see how the police can do their job if small though very vocal minorities, from which section of society has come most of what we on the street can recognised as terror, are backed up by so-called responsible people in the media. In London, only 6% of car crimes are eventually detected. Does that mean that the other 94% did not happen?

It is beyond question that in the business of detecting terror the detection rate will be very, very low. This does not mean that the police should be criticised for doing their job, which is to attend to such dangers as they think matter. No more should they be criticised for operating in strength: there is safety for them in such numbers and safety for us in their safety.

It is folly bordering on criminality for media-men and media-women, whose information cannot be sound, to claim to know more than M15 or the police. There is only one proper response to the police raid in Forest Gate: do it again, and again, as and when you think it necessary. I am sorry Mr Kahar got shot in the shoulder, no matter where the shot came from. He has as much interest as we all do in supporting the police – even when they get it "wrong", whatever that means.

Jon Davies recently retired as Head of Religious Studies at Newcastle University. He is the author and editor of books on urban planning, contemporary social attitudes, and death in the ancient world; and is currently working on a book on the patterns of enmities surrounding the West.

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Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari

Hmmm ... yes.

As chairman of the East London mosque, Dr Bari was considered instrumental in helping controversial MP George Galloway secure his parliamentary seat in the last general election by telling Muslims they had a duty to vote.

Profile: Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari

Then there is that very revealing Panorama interview, reprinted here:

I mean, let me say what else he's [Bari's guest, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais] reported to have said, he said: 'There should be no peace with the rats of the world.' Again he refers to Jews as the scum of the human race, offspring of apes and pigs, and he has also referred to Christians as worshippers of the cross.' You don't see Christians in those terms?

Bari first claims not to think in that way himself, then turns evasive, finally accusatory: "character assassination of Muslim scholars and leaders are (sic) getting very widespread."

UK: New Fuehrer At Muslim Council For Britain

He sounds like yet another "moderate" for Tony Blair to take advice from.

Posted by: Damian at June 7, 2006 06:20 PM

You have totally failed to understand the impact this raid based on flawed intellegence has done to the different cultural communities around the UK.

The question is not about protecting the innocent and allowing the police to do their job, the question is about the whole failed system. The same system which saw the shooting of Charles and the different stories which rose afterwards, which I’m sure, you are well aware of. It’s the same system which has rejected an independent enquiry into 7/7, why would that be? The police probably will find more terrorist planning and threats in Tony Blair’s house than they would do in Forest Gate.

The Police need to do their job, that’s what they are paid for. The public can question the information and the handling of this whole event in which an innocent person was shot at. I would also like to mention at this point that why is the media quite about the circumstances in which the shot was fired?

Turning a blind eye to this event will only allow the Police to create more havoc amongst the communities in which Forest Gate was a prime example. A simple apology does not bring back the lives of the two brothers, does not store the confidence in their own country, and does not repair the damage done to them mentally, physically and in the character humiliation in national and international world.
It seems that the Police are playing “the boy who cried wolf” but the only difference is that we are not dealing with Sheep but with human lives. You cannot follow intelligence which are like Chinese whispers or a message sent to the police written in a small note attached to a bird directed to fly to the Police headquarters.

Lets just see what next few days hold, lets just monitor the stories which Police emerge with and change almost on a daily basis. I fear another smoke screen will be created to divert the attention from this railed raid and the failed system which allowed it to happen.

Posted by: adam at June 13, 2006 04:12 PM

'Adam' seems to claim to speak for the 'different cultural communities in the UK'. Well, not for mine. My community feels that the police are not perfect but should be supported, not called liars as they were on June 5 by the MCB. We feel that terrorists should wear T-shirt so-identifying themselves, and that they should have to apply for permission before killing people. We have the feeling that an 'independent inquiry' into 7/7 would be regarded as being 'independent' by some of the 'different cultural communities of the UK' only if it concluded that no one was murdered on that day, or that if anyone was killed it was not by Muslims, or that if anyone was in fact killed, and killed by Muslims, then such Muslims should be understood to be driven by their deep poverty, sense of alienation, sorrow over the loss of Andalus and the rapacity of the Crusades not to say the very existence of Israel, Spain, Greece, Slovenia etc. My cultural community, in a word, is p----d off.
Jon Davies

Posted by: jon gower davies at June 20, 2006 03:26 PM
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