Sunday, July 31, 2005

LONDON — Leaders of a key Muslim organization in Britain, angered by the deadly terror attacks in London, yesterday told tens of thousands of followers that “enough is enough” and urged all Muslims to turn away from “harbingers of hate.”

“The word ‘Islam’ means peace,” said Rafiq Hayat, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association U.K., “but we have to live by it in order to grow.”

Mr. Hayat’s call for Muslims to quit listening to fanatics who stir terrorists to action came in the wake of a new opinion survey showing that one in four Muslims in Britain sympathizes with the motives of the suicide bombers who killed 52 commuters in the British capital on July 7.

Those surveyed also supported the four bombing suspects who botched their own attempted suicide attacks two weeks later, on July 21. All four suspects are under arrest — three in Britain, the fourth in Rome.

The poll, by the YouGov organization for the Daily Telegraph newspaper, reported that 32 percent of more than 500 British Muslims interviewed believe Western society is “decadent and immoral” and that “Muslims should seek to bring it to an end.”

Mr. Hayat told 30,000 Ahmadi Muslims at the start of their 39th convention at Aldershot, England, near London, that “it’s time for all Muslims to say ‘enough is enough’ ” and that “we wish to practice Islam as exemplified by our founder, Prophet Muhammad.”

“We call for a grass-roots revolution in mosques across the U.K., where ordinary people wish to make a future in the U.K., [and] for the sake of themselves and their children and for the sake of humanity, turn away from the harbingers of hate and root out fanaticism.”

Muslims, Mr. Hayat said, should honor the “true meaning of Islam — peace, tolerance, respect and humanity.”

The Ahmadi Muslim community was founded in India 116 years ago. It claims to have about 200 million followers around the world, although some mainstream Islamic scholars say the figure is more like 10 million and question whether the Ahmadis are true Muslims.

At a separate Islamic festival in Lincolnshire, sponsored by the Islamic Society of Britain, officials said yesterday that this year’s event had been given a “crucial, additional meaning” by the London bombings.

“Islam is the faith of 1.6 million Britons,” said Jeffrey Beere, festival organizer. “Its teachings fly in the face of the messages of hate that were behind the attacks on the capital.

“This is an opportunity in a million, a chance to live the universal values of compassion and care and to provide our youth with a positive, wholesome self-image,” Mr. Beere said.

The YouGov’s newspaper poll indicated that anti-Western feeling runs high among British Muslims.

Of the more than 500 Muslims responding, 24 percent said they sympathize with the suicide bombers and 6 percent said the attacks were justified.

YouGov analyst Anthony King said the polling organization viewed its “group portrait” of British Muslims as “at once reassuring and disturbing, in some ways even alarming.”

Although most Muslims in Britain condemn the London bombings, Mr. King said, the poll showed “a substantial minority are clearly alienated from modern British society, and some are prepared to justify terrorist acts.”

Mr. King said the 6 percent who insist that the bombings were necessary “may seem a small proportion, but in absolute numbers, it amounts to about 100,000 individuals who, if not prepared to carry out terrorist acts, are ready to support those who do.”

Although 32 percent of those surveyed agreed that Muslims should seek to bring a decadent Western society to an end, Mr. King said, most of these said Muslims should seek change only by nonviolent means.

“But 1 percent — about 16,000 individuals — declare themselves willing, possibly even eager, to embrace violence,” he said.

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