June and July could well be difficult months for the Muslim community.
If the past two years are anything to go by, the second anniversary of
the 7/7 attacks will see as much media focus fall on pointing a finger
of collective blame on the Muslim community as it will on any dignified
commemoration of those who died.
However this year sees an added factor. It is surely no coincidence that John Reid has tabled his new anti-terror bill at such an emotive time. Politicians from both main parties are trying to out gun each other as to who can be the toughest on security, with frankly absurd draconian proposals such as stop and question powers for the police (at a time when the police have even suggested rethinking their own stop and search strategy) and periods of detention without trial that do not even exist in Putin's Russia.
It is in Reid's interest that there is as much negative publicity as possible this summer to maximise his chances of realising his former Stalinist tendencies (he once famously admitted to once having been a communist). Unfortunately in the past we have seen Muslims fall into a trap of fuelling this negative publicity by unwise (even if well intended) actions. It is imperative at this time that Muslims learn from the past mistakes – be they from the time of the offensive cartoons or the time of the Israeli attacks on Lebanon where the public sympathy that existed evaporated over night.
The Prophet (saw) said, "The believer is not stung from the same hole twice".
It is important that we all realise that there are many traps likely to be laid for our community this summer and that we do not allow ourselves to be used to fuel dangerous political agendas. Despite feeling the problems of Palestine and Iraq, we can't let our actions be dictated by our emotions. We have to voice our concerns in a way that wider society can understand and agree with. We cannot demonstrate or argue in a way that simply reinforces stereotypes and allows the government to perpetuate a 'moderate-extremist' divide and rule strategy. Such a strategy seeks to damage a growing consensus amongst all Muslims and many non-Muslims on these vital political issues.
Reckless actions at such a sensitive time will mean that Reid and his friends will be smiling as his policies stoke up the climate of suspicion and fear against our community.