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‘There was no Muslim terrorism in the UK until Iraq’ – Oxford imam

Published time: May 23, 2013 15:23

A police forensics officer investigates a car at a crime scene where one man was killed in Woolwich, southeast London May 22, 2013.(Reuters / Stefan Wermuth)

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British Muslims “disown” the Woolwich murderers, and such extremists should be “totally demolished” in UK society – but in order to do that, the UK must change its “illegal” foreign policy, imam of the Oxford Islamic Congregation Dr. Taj Hargey told RT.

The beheading of a UK soldier near the Woolwich army barracks in southeast London on Wednesday has shocked the country, and was condemned as “horrific” and “sickening” by UK officials. “Strong indications” the murder was connected to terrorism and Islamic extremism were also noted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

But the Muslim community in the UK had never known such brutal terrorist attacks until the UK’s previous government drew Britain into overseas conflicts in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and started “slavishly following” US policies, Dr. Hargey explained.

RT: Do you agree with the allegations that the attackers’ actions were inspired by radical Islam?

Dr. Taj Hargey: We need firstly to condemn this murder in the strongest possible terms, and to send condolences to the victim’s family and the loved ones. Yes, I think there is an element of that… But it’s not just Islamic fundamentalism, there is also a linkage, I believe, between what Tony Blair did with his illegal war in Iraq and subsequent slavish following of US policy. I mean, there was no Muslim terrorism in the United Kingdom until Blair went illegally into Iraq. And I think we need to admit and to acknowledge that fact… not just to blame it on Islamic fundamentalism.

RT: One witness report is saying one of the meat cleaver killers was seen in the local community days before “preaching hatred.” From what you see and hear around you – how widespread are radical sentiments among Muslims in Britain?

TH: I think, they are most probably recent, or new Muslim converts, they are fundamentalists, this brand of Islam is attractive to them. I don’t think they were born Muslims, these two people, I would be very surprised if they were. But what is important to remember is that they are being breast-fed on this… Islamic extremism and radicalism – that the only way to deal with the situation is by violence. All integrated British Muslims know that, although we are against British foreign policy, we can protest legitimately and through democratic means – you do not have to slaughter someone in the streets of London.

RT: When it comes to the Muslim community in the United Kingdom, some refer to an ‘outspoken minority but a silent majority.’ Isn’t there a responsibility for the majority to step up and do something about this?

A woman looks at floral tributes placed near the scene of the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, southeast London May 23, 2013.(Reuters / Luke MacGregor)

TH: Absolutely, and I think it’s high time that the majority came out of the woodwork, so to speak. They have to put their heads above the parapet, we need to confront these radicals and extremists. Now, where is this extremism coming from? It is coming from the philosophies, like the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and the Salafis in Syria.

We need to tackle this – this type of imported virus is coming from the Muslim heartland, it’s got no place in a Western society, or in the United Kingdom. So yes, it is up to the majority to take on this minority. The minority is very few – I wouldn’t put them more than 1 or 2 percent of the population, and their ideology and philosophy must be totally demolished. It must be shown not have anything to do with Islam.

RT: What can the UK authorities do to protect the people and to prevent such attacks from happening in the future?

TH: The United Kingdom must look at the causes of this. I think that for us just to deal with the aftereffects of this slaughter in Woolwich is nonsense – we need to look at what is causing this. It is clearly UK forces in places like Afghanistan, and the UK’s blind support for US policy with the Somalia, or Yemen, or Syria, or wherever else. We need to take stock of that, we can’t just expect that we are blameless. And I think once the United Kingdom takes stock of this and sees how to be an impartial actor on the world’s stage, that would be a big step forward.

RT: We’ve already seen anti-Muslim protests in London in the aftermath of the attack, do you think there’s a danger of a significant growth in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment?

TH: Absolutely. Last week, as you know, we had this issue of Muslim pedophile gangs… in Oxford – they were convicted, thankfully. So, last week it’s pedophilia, this week it’s terrorism – so there is an escalating tendency to label all Muslims either as terrorists or pedophiles. So the right-wing British national party, and English Defence League, and other fascist groups are obviously taking advantage of this.

So it’s incumbent on the mainstream majority Muslims to tackle this, and say, firstly, we disassociate ourselves totally from all forms of pedophilia, and, secondly, terrorism is not part of Islam. And whatever is engaging in violent bloodshed and terrorist activities – we disown you, and you can’t do that in our name… You don’t kill someone in the name of God, Islam condemns that… it’s pure blasphemy.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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