London, UK, February 23 2007 – Hundreds of men and women gathered in a community hall in East London this evening, close to the site of the Forest Gate shooting, for a public meeting entitled: "Politicians and Media: Playing Politics with Security". The panel, invited by the local branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, gave their own views about the subject of terrorism, the government and media portrayal of Islam and Muslims, the possible motives behind the Government's 'spin' and the so-called 'radicalisation' of the Muslim community.
Award winning reporter Phil Rees explained that he was concerned by the tendency of the Government to play politics with security and highlighted the refusal of the Government to accept the role of the Iraq war in causing violence and instability. He also urged the audience to examine the "inventory of death" to establish how many people had been killed in Iraq and elsewhere.
Dr Imran Waheed, from the Executive Commiittee of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain, outlined how the public have been fed half-truths and lies and made reference to some of the reporting of the recent arrests in Birmingham. He explained how he believed that the Government "spun" the 'war on terror' and purposefully exaggerated the threat in order to justify continual intervention in the Muslim world and support for dictators. He also argued that the Government was keen to whip up fear towards Islam and Muslims so that the public fall behind such policies.
The commentator and author, Peter Oborne, stated that he thought the terror threat was real and that the police had a real job to do. However, he was critical about the governments 'spinning of terror' and the treatment of the Muslim community by some elements in the media. He explained why he felt Britain was a great nation, citing the rule of law, the institution of Parliament and tolerance towards others. However, many in the audience challenged these points, citing a very different experience for the Muslim community.
In a lively discussion, the diverse audience expressed their concerns about the demonisation of Islam, Shariah and the Caliphate, which many saw as positive solutions for the Muslim world, and the injustice of anti-terror policies. There was also extensive criticism of the support given to dictators in the Muslim world and the sensationalist coverage of the 'war on terror' by some quarters of the media.
Commenting on the event, Dr Imran Waheed said, "Events like this allow the Muslim community to air their feelings and gives an opportunity for people across communities to hear each others' views."