British Muslim leaders have condemned this morning’s attacks at Brussels International Airport and a city Metro station which have left at least 30 people dead.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella organisation, condemned the attacks, stating that the killers wanted to “divide communities”.
Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “We are shocked to hear about the terror attacks in Brussels, coming as they did only a few days after the horrific atrocities in Istanbul. I hope the killers are brought to justice and face the full force of the law. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and communities affected.
“As we come to terms with yet another attack on European soil, we must redouble our efforts to work together to defeat terrorism wherever it comes from. These mass murderers want to divide our society and pit people against each other. We must deny them this goal at every conceivable opportunity.”
The Manchester-based Ramadhaan Foundation also condemned the attack.
In a joint statement Shaykh Muhammad Umar bin Ramadhan, Chairman of the Ramadhan Foundation and Mohammed Shafiq, Chief Executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the attack were “against Islam.”
“These evil maniacs have caused death and destruction in Baghdad, Ankara, Istanbul, Paris in recent months. Muslims, Christians, Jews all attacked by people who wish to divide communities and that is why it is so important we all stay united against these barbaric animals.
“The Ramadhan Foundation led a delegation of British Imams to Iraq this month to show solidarity with the Iraqi people who have suffered at the hands of the terrorist entity ISIS. We stand united against terrorism, are determined to show solidarity and support to the victims and their families and reaffirm our commitment to defeating this evil ideology. We stand with the people of Brussels and all victims of terrorism around the world.
“Islam totally forbids such actions, those that carry out these crimes are enemies of Islam and must be defeated. The Ramadhan Foundation will never stop speaking out against terrorism whatever the risks.
“The days ahead will be difficult for the victims and their families, they are in our prayers and thoughts. Sadly we see some deluded people attack Muslims as a result of such terrorist atrocities – our message to them is clear they are no different from the terrorists who wish to divide us.
“Let us reaffirm our commitment to Islamic teachings against terrorism. It has no place in our world and we stand with anyone who wishes to defeat this evil.”
CAGE said it lamented the recent attacks that have led to the tragic loss of life in Brussels, Ankara, Istanbul, and Maidaguri (Nigeria) in the past two weeks.
Dr Adnan Siddiqui, CAGE Director, said: “We lament this tragic loss of life. We extend our deepest sympathy to the families of those who have lost loved ones in these terrible events.
“The scourge of political violence is a cycle, and the cycle needs to be stopped. Brute force and criminalisation of communities further endanger the public. Only a meaningful rethinking of domestic and foreign policies can end the cycle of violence.
“Current policies and security agency practices are failing to protect the public. In Belgium, elite forces placed the town of Molenbeek under siege, and many were raided, but despite this three bombers were able to carry out an attack days after the main suspect was arrested five hundred metres away from where he was born.
“We should be cognisant of the way in which we collectively respond to the loss of life. Attacks within Europe, due to their proximity and the prevailing political and media environment, often attract more attention. We urge that the loss of life, in all parts of the world, should be equally respected.
“We must not allow for knee-jerk reactions that foster an environment that permits the further suspicion and alienation of Muslim communities.”
Islamic Education and Research Academy
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) called for calm at a “time of widespread violence”, as well as calling upon the British media and government to be “mindful” of how they respond to today’s attacks.
iERA’s Head of PR and Media, Mohammed Hussain said: “Islam’s position towards the taking of innocent life is well-known. Today’s unfortunate incident, as well the many ongoing cases of injustice elsewhere is a testimony that in a world absent of human compassion and divine justice, oppression and bloodshed has become a common occurrence.
“No acts of terrorism have any Islamic basis in the Qur’an or the Prophetic tradition. iERA have been at the forefront of educating Muslims and non-Muslims what Islam says about these issues and that we must all strive for justice and mutual respect.
“iERA would like to take this opportunity to advise the mainstream media and politicians to be responsible and mindful of how they respond to the Brussels attacks. A knee-jerk reaction in the form of military retaliation or the passing of more draconian policies which disproportionately target Muslims is not the answer. Indeed violence begets violence, and ignorance breeds ignorance.”
Meanwhile, in a Facebook post titled: “All humans are equal, but some are more equal than others,” American Muslim scholar Yasir Qadhi pointed out people’s selective outrage.
He wrote: “Today, in a dastardly act of cowardice, militants set off explosives in crowded places in Belgium, killing and injuring dozens of people. The world reacts in rage. Global condemnation. Constant news coverage. World leaders hastening to see who can issue the harshest statements before the others. Hashtags like ‘#BelgiumUnderAttack’ go viral. All of which is good, and completely and totally expected.
“Barely a few days ago, in a dastardly act of cowardice, militants set off explosives in crowded places in Istanbul, killing and injuring dozens of people. The world reacted with silence. No condemnation. News coverage buried in the fine print on the back pages. No major leader said anything. Hashtags like ‘#IstanbulBombing’ attempt to generate more interest but fail miserably. All of which is bad, and, in light of past experience, completely and totally expected.”
IHRC safety advice
And in anticipation of a spike in Islamophobic attacks, the Islamic Human Rights Commission re-issued safety guidelines, especially for Muslim women.
The IHRC advises that if you experience an attack or assault, report it to the police and to them by calling during office hours on weekdays on 020 8904 4222.
The IHRC also urged that the following precautionary measures be taken:
• Be vigilant
• Do not open suspect packages
• Monitor access to car parks and other enclosures under your control. Report suspicious vehicles to the police.
• Review security arrangements regularly to ensure they are adequate for any event you intend to host.
• Ask your local crime prevention officer to carry out a crime prevention survey of your building.
• Encourage staff to take security seriously and establish regular training for them. Ensure they are aware of contingency plans and procedures for the building. Make guidelines readily available to all staff including ‘out of doors’ housekeeping staff.
• Consider having a fire safety review carried out by the London Fire and Emergency planning Authority.
• Consider installing CCTV. If you do have CCTV ensure it records properly & images are of good quality.
• Report all harassment, whether it is verbal, physical or psychological, to the police and the Islamic Human Rights Commission (020 8904 4222, email@example.com)
• If a satisfactory response is not received from the police, contact the IHRC
• Liaise with the police, and get advice on how to best tackle the problem of harassment.