Al Jazeera

Woolwich report fails to address torture and harassment claims

London, England – An official report into whether British security services could have prevented the murder of a soldier on a London street has been denounced as a smokescreen by critics who say it fails to address serious allegations of the intelligence agencies’ complicity in the torture and harassment of one of the men who carried out the attack.

Michael Adebolajo, left, Michael Adebowale.

Adebolajo, left, and Adebowale, said they killed Lee Rigby, a serving British soldier, in protest at British foreign policy.

Civil liberties campaigners also questioned the timing of the release of the report just one day before the government’s presentation to parliament on Wednesday of tough new counterterrorism measures to tackle the perceived heightened threat posed by Britons fighting in Syria.

“This is carefully choreographed. You’ve got the security apparatus investigating the security apparatus and deciding they need more money and more power so they can roll back civil liberties even further,” said Cerie Bullivant, a spokesman for CAGE, a human rights group.

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Al Jazeera

Report sheds light on sharp rise in anti-Muslim hate crime

London, UK – The number of reported instances of anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK has risen sharply since the murder of a British soldier in London last year, with women wearing traditional Islamic dress most likely to be the victims of abuse and street attacks, according to a new study.

But researchers believe that a widespread lack of trust in the police in Muslim communities and endemic under-reporting of hate crime masks the true scale of the problem, with most Islamophobic incidents, ranging from online trolling to verbal abuse and extreme violence, going unlogged and unpunished.

The publication of the report also comes amid concerns expressed by some Muslims about their safety on British streets following the murder of a female Saudi Arabian student in Colchester last month. Police say the attack may have been religiously motivated because the victim was wearing an abaya.

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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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