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Terror Arrest - Local Reaction

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Mike ThomsonMike Thomson
The town of Gloucester is on the map following the arrest of local man Sajid Badat on Thursday. Today reporter, Mike Thomson went along to gauge local reaction.

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Mike Thomson in Gloucester gets the reaction from locals following the arrest of suspected terrorist Sajid Badat. Conservative Home Secretary David Davis is in our studio.
Locals protest against the arrest

Locals protest against the arrest.
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Muslim Community of Gloucester

The Home Office

The Gloucester Citizen


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Meeting in Gloucester

Community leaders chair the meeting.
meeting in gloucester

Over 400 locals packed into the hall.
The town's muslim community have met with police to voice fears that the arrest has destabilised their community. And last night, a full capacity of 400 of the local muslim community attended the meeting to discuss how best to maintain good race relations in the current climate.

Gloucester's muslim community is small - approximately 2,500 people of mostly Indian Gujurati heritage, their families having first arrived 40 years ago. While those attending the meeting were predominantly Muslim, all ages and backgrounds were represented. Dozens who were not allowed in the hall because of fire regulations, listened from outside.

The Meeting

Imran Atcha, a family friend, opened the meeting by saying a few words on behalf of Mr Sadat's family who have gone into hiding. "The family are very, very grateful for all the support and letters they have received," said Imran.

Angry voices at the highly charged meeting were directed mainly at the Home Secretary, David Blunkett - particularly after his specific comments about Mr Badat's arrest. The Attorney General is now examining all media and public coverage following the arrest - for fear that any trial would now be prejudiced.

The participants then turned their attention to the media. National tabloids were branded "filthy and racist" - and harsher words were reserved for local paper 'The Citizen.' They claim their newspaper had let them down with headlines about suicide bombers, "Bad news sells but it does not do communities any good," said one man. "This is bad enough already, it doesn't need sensationalising."

The newspaper's Editor, Ian Mean had a prior commitment so one of his management team, Matt Holmes, was on the receiving end. He appeared deeply uncomfortable. As he stood up, he was loudly booed. "We have bent over backwards to make sure we have covered this fairly," Mr Holmes said as the jeers got louder. "I'm not here to be shouted at." to the replies of  "All we want is that you report the truth, nothing more."

Another elderly man, Yousef Malik, said he was immensely proud to be a British citizen - yet he and others were now being regarded with suspicion simply for wearing a beard. "We are always expected to apologise for something that we have not done," said another local resident, Ahmed Goga. "Everyone in this community has condemned 9/11 time and time again. But we are being demonised and castigated despite being British through and through. "A lot of us feel that we should not have to do it anymore - and it's time we made a stand."

Political Reaction

Attending the meeting was constituency MP Parmjit Dhanda. Did the Labour man stand with the community or with the home secretary? Mr Dhanda explained he had held behind-the-scenes meetings with members of the community and, as promised, would be taking their concerns to David Blunkett. "People here are working together and I am determined not to let anything ruin that," he said. "We will keep the level of harmony in our community."

Last month, Europe minister Denis McShane sparked fury by saying Muslims had to choose between the rule of law and the rule of terrorism.


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