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Here is how London Moves Quickly to tackle Muslim Tensions related to Terrorism!

A video shot by a witness shows a chaotic scene in which scores of people angrily shove and push toward the suspect, some trying to beat him as he fought back

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A message on a wall is seen near to where a van was driven at Muslims in Finsbury Park, North London, Britain, June 19, 2017. VOA
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The seconds after the rented van sped through bus lanes, jumped the sidewalk and plowed through a group of Muslim worshippers marked a crucial moment in Britain’s bid to come to terms with its rapidly growing Muslim minority.

One person died in the incident, and at least 10 were injured.

A video shot by a witness shows a chaotic scene in which scores of people angrily shove and push toward the suspect, some trying to beat him as he fought back.

“We grabbed him,” said Abdikadir Warfa, who was a few meters away when the van slammed into people, pinning at least one victim underneath. Warfa said the suspect, now identified as 47-year-old Darren Osborne, was pulled from the van. “We tried to hold him down. He’s a very strong man. He hit people and was trying to escape,” Warfa told VOA.

Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain, June 19, 2017.
Police officers attend to the scene after a vehicle collided with pedestrians in the Finsbury Park neighborhood of North London, Britain, June 19, 2017. VOA

It was then that an imam came to the scene and, by many accounts, kept the crowd from seriously harming Osborne.

Warfa, like others at the scene, expressed relief that matters did not escalate, but he worries that continued attacks by Islamist extremists, and a potential rise in retaliatory strikes on British Muslims, could drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.

“It looks like it will start a division, except if the government does something. The government needs to do something,” Warfa said.

Within hours of the attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May declared the incident a potential act of terrorism and visited the scene, as did London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who appealed for calm and announced extra police officers would be deployed to secure mosques during the remainder of Ramadan.

The scene of Muslim residents grabbing and beating the white suspect demonstrated how close Britain could come to an explosion of ethnic tensions, observers said. The anger on the streets surrounding the Finsbury Park Mosque were palpable in the afternoon hours of Monday, as warm temperatures hit an unusual 32 degrees Celsius.

Some residents, including British born Muslims, described the frustration and unease they’ve experienced following the series of terrorist attacks.

Farhia Ali, an IT student walking past the area cordoned off by police Monday, said she should not be held responsible for the actions of those who commit violence in the name of Islam.

“I’ve been scared to be a Muslim walking the streets in a hijab for a very long time, but instances like this make me even more fearful of representing what (I) believe in, and that shouldn’t be the case for anybody or any community in the United Kingdom,” said Ali.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, meets local people in Finsbury Park Mosque, near the scene of an attack, in London, Britain, June 19, 2017.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, meets local people in Finsbury Park Mosque, near the scene of an attack, in London, Britain, June 19, 2017. VOA

The prime minister’s decision to declare the incident a potential act of terrorism, and assertions by police that Darren Osborne may face charges of committing, preparing or instigating an act of terrorism soothed Muslim community leaders, who have been voicing concerns about retaliation against innocent Muslims after the recent spate of deadly attacks claimed by the Islamic State group at Westminster, Manchester Arena, and London Bridge.

“After the London Bridge attacks, the social media was [in] overdrive with hate against mosques,” said Shaukat Warraich, head of Faith Associates, a Muslim non-profit group in London that recently issued a report to mosques recommending enhanced security measures in the wake of Islamist attacks.

Warraich told VOA that although Monday’s attack is the first of its kind and an isolated incident, he sees it as an indicator of rising tensions that need to be quelled between Britain’s Muslims and non-Muslims.

“I’m so happy that the prime minister clearly stated that this was a terrorist attack,” he said. “ISIL and the far right are two faces of the same coin. ISIL is trying to radicalize Muslims but the far right is trying to radicalize white people against Muslims.”

“We will not allow this to divide the Muslim community and divide us against other non-Muslims,” he said. “London will not fold because of this. We will fight against this.” (VOA)

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Emergence of Radical Political Groups Raises Concern in Pakistan

Concerns are being voiced about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

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Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
Rising concerns in Pakistan regarding radical terrorist groups establishing themselves as political parties. VOA
  • Tension in Pakistan increasing due to emergence of Radical Political Groups.
  • Extremist groups are gaining a footing in Country’s politics.
  • According to reports, goverment’s efforts are not enough to stop the emerging radicalism in Pakistan.

Concerns are being voiced in Pakistan about how a few radical groups with proven terror ties have been allowed to re-brand themselves as political parties.

Taj Haider, one of the prominent and founding members of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which has been in power five times since 1970, told VOA the country is again seeing the trend of extremist groups camouflaging themselves to enter into politics.

“Religion and politics cannot go hand in hand, but unfortunately this is our new reality. We have seen the recent by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar where militant-turned-political parties were able to mobilize people and gather votes,” Haider said. “And these so-called new political parties, with proven terror records, look determined to contest the upcoming elections in 2018.”

In a recent high-level party meeting presided by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Pakistan’s slain Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the government was sharply criticized on its inability to forcefully implement the National Action Plan and bar proscribed groups from entering the political sphere.

The National Action Plan is a 20-point strategy devised to combat extremism in 2015 that clearly states no banned groups can operate in the country by changing their names or identity.

Analysts say many other political parties are also agitated and wary about the recent political dynamic that has allowed radicalized groups to enter the political arena.

“The government has repeatedly said it will not allow the hardliners to enter into politics, but the reality is different, these parties are going into masses,” Rasul Baksh Raees, a prominent analyst from Pakistan told VOA.

“As long as these proscribed groups stick to their extreme ideologies and violence, they will be a danger to the society and democracy itself.”

Hafiz Saeed
Hafiz Saeed, head of the Pakistani religious party. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

PPP’s acute criticism came as Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terror attacks and leader of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), inaugurated the office of his newly launched political party Milli Muslim League (MML) in the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan’s Election Commission rejected MML’s party registration application in October, citing its link to Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S. designated terror-sponsoring organization.

But MML looks determined to contest the upcoming state and provincial elections. The party has several offices, has launched a website, and has a social media team spreading its messages through Facebook and Twitter.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly emphasized it will not tolerate any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to use democracy and political means to spread their extreme ideologies.

But critics still say the government is not doing enough to stop radical groups from entering politics.

“Look what happened in Lahore’s recent by-election and who can forget the power show by extremists on the roads of Islamabad. The government was totally helpless,” Raees said.

During the Lahore election in September, a MML backed independent candidate secured the fourth position in the race. The by-election was also contested by Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TeL), another extremist religious party created to carry-on Mumtaz Qadri’s mission, the bodyguard who killed Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer in 2011 after he had demanded reforms in the controversial blasphemy law. Mumtaz Qadri was later sentenced to death.

Islamic Extremists
Supporters of the Tehreek-e-Labaik party (VOA)

In November, thousands of followers of the Islamist group Tehreek-e-Labaik blocked Islamabad roads for weeks and demanded the resignation of Law Minister Zahid Hamid, after accusing him of blasphemy. The government eventually surrendered to hardliners’ demands after Pakistan’s military played the role of mediator.

The experts say the emerging trend of politicizing militancy is a danger to democracy. They also point out the sectarian and hardline rationale will further complicate the situation in the country that has been trying to combat terrorism for more than a decade.

“Imagine when these hardliners, through political parties, will spread their extreme views on the grassroots level. What will be the future of this country?” Raees said.

But some politicians dismiss the blending of radicalized groups into politics. Haider believes the people of Pakistan can differentiate between politicians and extremists and will not allow militant-turned-politicians to thrive.

“If you look at the past, the religious parties including the Jamaat-i-Islami [an old religious party], despite having a huge following, were never able to clean sweep or get majority in the electoral process of the country,” said Haider.

“Even now, with all these efforts, I believe Milli Muslim League or Tehreek-e-Labaik will not be able to pull large numbers during the general elections. Religious or sectarian votes are scattered in the country and can’t be unified and will not help these newly established political parties to win a prominent number of seats.” VOA