LONDON (Reuters) — Britain’s most senior policeman called on the country’s Muslim community yesterday to end its “denial” about extremists in its midst and to engage actively in the fight against terrorism.
Muslim leaders have expressed shock that four British-born Muslims were the perpetrators of last week’s attacks in London, which left at least 54 persons dead.
But Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair said Muslims could do more to help find those plotting further atrocities.
“We have a moment now in which we can engage with the Muslim community and move them from what could be described as a bit of denial into active engagement around counterterrorism,” Mr. Blair told BBC TV.
“Who are the preachers of hate? Who are the people who are looking to groom bombers?” Mr. Blair asked, adding that a number of British Muslims had been to Iraq and training camps abroad.
“The Muslim community somewhere will know who these people are. We’ve now got to engage with them so that they give us the information,” Mr. Blair said.
Moderate Muslim groups already cooperate with police on security issues but acknowledge that many alienated young Muslims have drifted away and become vulnerable to indoctrination.
“There is a deep sense of alienation in parts of the community, from poverty, from unemployment, from poor education,” said Daud Abdullah, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the country’s largest Islamic organization.
Shortly before Britain’s May election, the MCB called a press conference to encourage Muslims to go to the polls, but the event was disrupted by a radical Islamist group calling for a boycott instead.
“They want to isolate themselves. They want young men to opt out of the political process and to live on the edges,” said Mr. Abdullah said.
“We on the council believe that is dangerous, because you become vulnerable. You become a potential prey to people who espouse violence and projects of violence.”