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Sunday, 19 July 2009

Muslim Extremist Must Be 'Re-Educated' - According to Crooked Councillor

From The Burton Mail:
A CONTROVERSIAL councillor has urged Burton’s Muslim community not to ostracise an activist dubbed ‘an extremist’ for taking part in a protest which appalled the nation.

News - Zakeel AbbasThe Mail revealed on Thursday how Zakeel Abbas took part in a widely condemned extremist protest against British soldiers returning from Iraq during a parade in Luton.

The protesters had to be protected by police from an angry mob after they brandished posters and shouted abuse at the Anglian Regiment soldiers, calling them ‘baby murderers’ and saying they would go to hell.

The incident has sparked retaliatory protests against Islamic extremism and marches supporting the troops in Luton, one of which ended up in a riot after being infiltrated by extremist right-wing groups.

However, Khadim Thathall, who represents Shobnall on East Staffordshire Borough Council, said Mr Abbas was not representative of all Muslims in Burton.

He said: “Firstly, I would like to thank the Mail for exposing part of the extremist minority in the Muslim community.

“I can assure the people of Burton that 99.9 per cent of Muslims in this town are a peace-loving people who contribute to society.

“I would hate for people to tar all Muslims with the same brush as those who took part in that terrible protest.

“I’ve lived in Burton since the age of 10 and, until very recently, I have never known of any remotely extremist activity in the town.” Mr Abbas had claimed he was discriminated against on the grounds of his religion after being accused of erecting posters encouraging attacks on non-Muslims.

Police unsuccessfully raided the 32-year-old’s Sydney Street home in April, 2008, prompting him to set up a support group for those he claimed were being ‘persecuted for being Muslim’.

But Mr Abbas was subsequently pictured protesting with Islamist group Al Muhajiroun on May 5.

When questioned by the Mail, he first denied being present at the Luton protest — until being confronted with photographic evidence.

He then conceded he was there, but said he was protesting for the innocent Iraqi children killed in the war.

However, Councillor Thathall, who recently came under fire for failing to attend parish council meetings in his Shobnall ward, has urged his community not to ostracise Mr Abbas and his associates.

He said: “It’s important that these people are not excluded and isolated, or their views will become even more extreme.

“They need to be brought in from the wilderness and re-educated to become part of our peaceful, co-operative community.” Councillor Thathall has recently faced calls to quit his post after being found guilty of professional misconduct while working at a ‘cowboy’ law firm.

He was president of the Imam Jamia mosque, in Princess Street, between 1990 and 1999.

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