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Mohammad Sarwar backs John Reid

Mohammad Sarwar backs Reid's call to Muslim parents over "extremism"

Michael Settle The Herald. Glasgow (UK), 21 September 2006

JOHN Reid's call for Muslim parents to guard against the radicalisation of their children was last night supported by Britain's first Muslim MP.

Labour's Mohammad Sarwar, who represents Glasgow Central, insisted the Home Secretary was "a good friend of the Muslim community" who cared about people.

He explained Mr Reid's call to Muslim parents was made "in good faith" and every parent in every community should watch over their children to guard against extremism.

"Being vigilant is not the same as spying on each other, " Mr Sarwar told The Herald.

"When it comes to the terrorist threat to our country all of us have to be vigilant. We have to communicate with our children to make sure they are not being radicalised. I have a lot of respect for John Reid. He is doing a good job in very difficult circumstances."

Earlier, during his speech to a 30-strong group of Muslims in Leyton, east London, the Home Secretary was interrupted and heckled by two wellknown radicals, who labelled him "an enemy of Islam".

Questions about security were raised last night as to how the demonstrators were able to come "within punching distance", as George Galloway, the Respect leader, put it, of Mr Reid.

In the most controversial part of his speech, the Secretary of State said: "There is no nice way of saying this. These fanatics are looking to groom and brainwash children, including your children, for one thing: to kill themselves in order to murder others.

"Look for the tell-tale signs now and talk to them before their hatred grows and you risk losing them for ever. In protecting our families we are protecting our community." His remarks drew a mixed reaction.

Massoud Shadjareh, chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said Mr Reid's call was "unrealistic and not demanded from any other community".

Imran Waheed, spokesman for Hizb ut Tahrir Britain, an Islamist political organisation, said Mr Reid was making "the ridiculous demand that Muslim parents spy on their children".

Mr Galloway, who represents a constituency in the east end, described the minister's remarks as "ill-judged, patronising and provocative".

Dominic Grieve, the Shadow Attorney General, said the Secretary of State's words were relevant but added: "He is in danger of repeating what the Prime Minister has already said: that Muslim extremism is a problem for the Muslim community. He needs to realise that itis a problem for all of us."

Mr Reid was barely 10 minutes into his speech when Abu Izzadeen, interrupted him.

"How dare you come to a Muslim area when over 1000 Muslims have been arrested, " declared Mr Izzadeen, reputedly a former spokesman for the radical Islamic group al Ghurabaa, an offshoot of al Muhajiroun, both of which are now banned in the UK. "You are an enemy of Islam and Muslims, you are a tyrant. Shame on all of us for sitting down and listening to him, " he added.

The Home Secretary quietly stood and watched as police officers ushered him out of the room, followed by a gaggle of TV cameramen, photographers and reporters.

The Secretary of State had only just restarted his speech when a second protester, radical Anjem Choudary, stood up to protest.

"Muslims do not need British values, " he declared. "We believe Islam is superior, we believe Islam will be implemented one day."

He, too, was ushered out of the hall. On the issue of security, a spokeswoman for the Home Office later said: "All appropriate security arrangements were in place. There was no question of the Home Secretary's safety being compromised."

Last night, Mr Reid called for continued public vigilance, pointing out how there were "on-going" police anti-terror operations.

Inrelation to his speech, he pointed out how at the moment in Britain there were young Muslims being "groomed" to become suicide bombers.

He told Channel Four News: "There are people in Britain who are targeting, recruiting - grooming if you like - young Muslim men to prepare them to kill themselves and others."