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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ahh.. the problems of Policial Office. Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has the unenviable job of trying to separate, in the eyes of the British man on the street, those Islamics which are normal hard-working members of this society, and those who would at a moment's notice strap on a semtex vest and blow as many of us into perdition as possible.
Not that there haven't been attempts..
The key project to come out of the London bombings was the so-called Preventing Extremism Taskforce. A host of community figures gathered in Windsor at the request of the Home Office and came up with 64 recommendations.
These proposals included a scholars roadshow, more work on integration and empowering women and a public inquiry into the bombings.
The proposed road show of leading modern Islamic thinkers has been well received but some see it as only preaching to the converted.

Of the other initiatives, most are "in progress" or "under consideration", say ministers. The call for a public inquiry has been firmly ruled out.
Many Muslims who were involved in the taskforce now believe that unless something is done quickly it will go down in history as a tokenistic exercise. Some of the women involved (and some of those who were not invited) have felt particularly let down.
With much of this work no longer the responsibility of the Home Office, they are pinning their hopes on Ruth Kelly's new team to make a difference at local level. According to some in the four meetings, she started well by asking for concrete proposals, rather than wringing her hands and saying "it's up to you alone".
Top of the shopping list is support for the recently-established Mosques and Imams Advisory Body, a kind of community-run watchdog which aims to turn 1,500 places of prayer into genuine centres of community leadership and support.
This was a key recommendation from the taskforce but its birth was long and difficult.

It is yet to be seen whether this will have a genuine effect, or will lie stillborn, along with so many other attempts at bringing extremism under control.
More later.

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