‘Public don’t believe imams over terror’
THE British public do not believe Muslim imams any more when they condemn terror attacks, a former police chief has said.
Mak Chishty, who retired last week as Britain’s most senior Muslim police officer, said community leaders were always quick to denounce acts of terror, but sadly their condemnation was no longer being taken seriously.
He said people have “had enough” following the London Bridge attacks, adding that it was time to stop “skirting around the issues” and have some “very difficult conversations”.
Issuing a “call to action” to all British Muslims, he urged them to launch a social media blitz, using Facebook and Whatsapp, to let all Britons know how strongly they feel about radical Islam and the extremism that leads to violence.
Speaking to an audience at the think tank Reform in central London, he said: “It has been a turning point because people have had enough. I don’t agree with that but I understand it.”
He added: “When leaders stand up and say ‘we condemn this’, the change has been, ‘we do not believe you...where are your deeds, we hear your words, but what have you done to change this?’”
He urged all British Muslims to reclaim social media – a fertile recruiting ground for extremists – and use popular sites to articulate their revulsion.
He said: “I would like to issue a call for action today for every single Muslim, from a young person all the way through to my mother-in-law who is well in her mid-60s but has got a Whatsapp or a Facebook, to get on there and start to denounce extremism.
“All of a sudden, maybe you will find that these extremist voices start to shrink ... remove their dominance, starve them of oxygen. Make sure they have got a powerful lobby against them. We can do that now.”
His comments came as a former Scotland Yard colleague, Craig Mackey, warned that cuts to police budgets were having a detrimental impact on the ability of forces to protect the public against terror attacks.
Mr Mackey, who is deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said that each branch of the police service needs to be funded properly.
He told the London Assembly: “Counter-terrorism is ring fenced and protected, but it requires the whole of the policing system to work.”
The Met has had to make £600million of savings over the past four years and is planning to introduce another £400million in cuts by 2020-21.
Sophie Linden, London’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “We are increasingly worried and concerned that if we carry on with budget cuts we won’t have the resources we need to keep London safe.”