Al Jazeera

Muslims feel targeted over Woolwich murder

Members of Muslim communities in southeast London, where two men convicted of killing a British soldier attended mosques and prayer groups, say they have been unfairly targeted by the media and faced Islamophobic intimidation since the May attack.

Members of a Muslim prayer group said they had been made scapegoats for the Woolwich attack. [Simon Hooper]

Members of a Muslim prayer group said they had been made scapegoats for the Woolwich attack. [Simon Hooper]

Speaking to Al Jazeera, members of a prayer group in Woolwich that became a focus of media attention because of the killers’ alleged attendance spoke with dismay of the way in which their community had been portrayed, in the words of one headline, as a “magnet for extremists”.

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Al Jazeera

‘Radical’ cleric denies Woolwich murder links

A Muslim preacher identified in the British media as a “key influence” on the two men convicted over the murder of a British soldier on a London street has denied any involvement with the pair and says he is a victim of press harassment.

Usman Ali. pictured outside the Greenwich mosque from which he is banned. [Simon Hooper]

Usman Ali. pictured outside the Greenwich mosque from which he is banned. [Simon Hooper]

Newspapers including the Sunday Times and the Guardian alleged that both Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale attended a prayer group in Woolwich run by Usman Ali, who the Daily Mail described as forming part of a “powerful web of Islamic radicals and terror convicts”.

The Daily Mail also speculated that the contact Lee Rigby’s murderers had with Ali and others “may have inspired them to attempt to plot a terror attack.”

But Ali exclusively told Al Jazeera that the allegations were “baseless”.

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Al Jazeera

Black Britons confront ‘radical Islam’ danger

“We’ve lost a lot of young people around here,” reflects Saleh Luqman, casting a coach’s critical eye as a cluster of teenage boys conscientiously shoot basketballs into a net.

Saleh Luqman [Simon Hooper]

Saleh Luqman: “We are extending arms everywhere to be part and parcel of everyday life.” [Simon Hooper]

“In the last few months it’s been under the radar and out of the headlines, but if you look inside the paper it’s still going on, every week. There are a lot of vulnerable people out there.”

For the youngsters, this Saturday morning session in a school gymnasium in the north London borough of Enfield is a chance to hone their crossovers and perfect their layups.

But Luqman, one of the growing number of black converts to Islam in the UK, is more concerned about the bigger picture. While the brutal murder in Woolwich of Lee Rigby, a serving soldier, and subsequent trial and conviction of his two killers made headlines around the world, young black males are the routine victims, and perpetrators, of extreme violence on the streets of the British capital.

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Al Jazeera

UK extremists face ‘terror gateway’ scrutiny

Anjem Choudary rubs his hands in the chill, winter air. He is standing behind a table in the centre of London’s Chinatown, protesting about Chinese oppression of the Uighurs, largely to the indifference of passers-by more interested in the aromas of dim sum and roasted duck emanating from the surrounding restaurants.

Anjem Choudary garners media attention despite holding little credibility among mainstream Muslims. [Darkroom Productions via Creative Commons]

Anjem Choudary garners media attention despite holding little credibility among mainstream Muslims. [Darkroom Productions via Creative Commons]

Choudary’s tailored black thobe appears to offer little resistance to the afternoon cold but he has higher forces keeping him warm, he says. Growing up the son of a market trader, Choudary spent the best part of two decades shivering behind market stalls in south London.

“Children’s and ladies’ wear,” he recalls. “We didn’t have the patter like some of the other traders.”

Choudary has the patter now; these days his stall sells Sharia law and the Khilafah. In recent years, he has been on most of the British media’s speed dial for on-demand extremism; provocative stunts, such as burning poppies on Remembrance Day; and denunciation of British foreign policy.

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Al Jazeera

‘A burly freedom fighter’: Mandela’s radical roots

Nelson Mandela will be celebrated principally for the dignity with which he emerged onto the world stage after decades in prison and for the forgiveness that he displayed towards his former enemies in forging a democratic, multi-racial South Africa from the poisoned legacy of apartheid.

Cuba's revolution remained close to Mandela's heart. [ANC Archive]

Cuba’s revolution remained close to Mandela’s heart even as he was feted by the West. [ANC Archive]

As a global statesman of grace and humility, he was long courted by western leaders drawn by his irresistible story of triumph over tyranny. Yet Mandela, who died on December 5 at age 95, was also a more radical and politically complex figure than has been commonly acknowledged by his admirers in the west.

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Al Jazeera

‘Free Nelson Mandela!’ How Britons contributed to anti-apartheid struggle

Peter Hain can still recall vividly the morning in 1972 when South African secret agents intended to kill him with a letter bomb sent to his home in London.

Protesters march against Apartheid in London in 1984. [Source: ANC Archive]

Protesters march against Apartheid in London in 1984. [Source: ANC Archive]

“Suddenly, in the middle of the family breakfast table was this terrifying, grotesque mixture of terminals and wires,” Hain told Al Jazeera. “We just sat there transfixed, and nothing happened. The police said we had been very lucky because there was a problem with the trigger mechanism.”

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