Muslim anger over British foreign policy, particularly the war against Iraq, resurfaced yesterday in a survey of Muslim students.
Almost all of the students who took part in the research said that they were unhappy with Tony Blair’s policy in the Middle East and two thirds said that they felt it had contributed to the London bombings. Half of the respondents in the poll, which was organised by the Federation of Student Islamic Societies, said they had experienced Islamophobia and nine out of 10 objected to the way they were portrayed in the media.
The preliminary results of the survey were revealed at a conference in London’s City Hall addressed by a panel including Ken Livingstone, the London Mayor, Government ministers and commentators.
Wakkas Khan, the president of the federation, which represents 90,000 Muslim students, said: “The Prime Minister’s continuing refusal to accept that his decisions could have led to such extreme consequences does nothing to appease the Muslim community, and on the contrary, seems to be causing more resentment amongst young Muslims. It is important now for Mr Blair to accept that foreign policy is a serious concern and to start to do something about it rather than being seen to brush it aside.”
Mr Livingstone said: “Anti-terrorist measures must be directed against those carrying out, planning or supporting such terrorist attacks and not against those who are our allies in dealing with the terrorists. Attempts to criminalise legitimate political views, for example on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, would destroy the trust, which is essential to isolate and deal with real terrorists.” He told Muslim students that it was their duty to challenge a “rising tide of Islamaphobia” in the media.