Muslims are concerned at UK anti-terror tactics
Muslim groups in south-east London and beyond say that there is ìfear and concernî in their communities after the police raid on a domestic house in Forest Gate on Friday 2 June 2006.
Over 240 police officers were involved in the operation, which took place under the Terrorism Act and involved the firing of one shot ñ wounding one of the two men subsequently arrested.
The raid has been linked to intelligence information about possible chemical attacks on civilians, and the shooting aspect is being investigated by the Independent Police Complains Commission.
In contrast to the tragic circumstances surrounding the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell tube station last year, the IPCC was given immediate access to the site, and the police sent community liaison officers out to try to reassure local people.
Meanwhile the Muslim Safety Forum (MSF) said it was believed that the person concerned was seriously but not fatally wounded and would be requesting "full and prompt disclosure of information of the operation to ally community fearsÖThe public view armed anti-terror raids with much apprehension and suspicion"
Following the incident, the MSF met with the Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Stephenson and raised its concerns directly.
But spokesperson Azad Ali, speaking on Channel 4 News, said that while Muslims might be anxious they recognized the need to root out ìcriminal activityî and condemned it wholeheartedly.
There are also believed to have been confidential meetings with representatives of faith and community groups in the aftermath of the raid.
Today some local people were praising the police for improved liaison, but others were complaining about alleged heavy handedness and questioning the use of arms.
Police are still hunting for a chemical device amid widespread speculation about what it might be.
Some fear that a chemical weapon could be used in an attack with similarities to the 7/7 2005 suicide bombings on the London underground and a bus, and the failed attack later that month.
The two brothers accused of being involved in the chemical plot which police say sparked the raid are vigorously protesting their innocence, according to their solicitors.
It has also been claimed that Mohammed Abdul Kahar, aged 23, was shot without warning in Friday's assault on the house.
ìWe hope that the lessons of Stockwell will have been learned and that the police will work more robustly in disseminating factual informationî, Muslim Safety Committee chair Azad Ali declared.
He also warned against Islamophobia and requested that any attacks against Muslims in the area should be reported and dealt with as soon as possible.
Christian leaders have offered their support and prayers for all involved in the incident, and have expressed sympathy and concern fo the fears of their Muslim neighbours.
The militant Muslim Public Affairs Committee ominously declared: ìWe can only hope the sleeping Muslims of East London will wake up and rise against the tyranny being perpetrated against our youth in the name of combating terrorism.î
But other Islamic leaders say that this is ìunnecessary and alarmist talkî.
Meawhile, in a sweeping raid, police arrested about a dozen men in the Toronto area on terrorism-related charges on Friday night, the reports CTV Canada.
Intelligence sources have alleged that the men were part of a terrorist cell, close to carrying out attacks on one or more Canadian targets. Police seized chemicals used to make explosives and weapons.
The suspects are said to be either second-generation Canadians or persons recently migrated to Canada with their families.
The Malaysian authorities seized a dozen terror suspects last week, along with firearms and documents.
Observers say that the three raids appear to be part of a coordinated international plan.
[Also on Ekklesia: Beyond the politics of fear An Ekklesia response to the London bombings; Concerns grow over Stockwell killing; Church report backs shoot-to-kill policy; Religious leaders call for action after shooting of innocent man; Muslim tells Christians 'War on Terror' seems like 'War on Islam'; Ex-spy wages peace on terror in the Middle East; Canterbury Cathedral invited to turn tables on war games; Christian peacemakers protest on third anniversary of Iraq invasion; Canterbury Cathedral urged to turn wargame row into peace pledge; Global faith gathering tackles religious roots of terror; Six point alternative to war]