East London community leaders have called for the government to review its counter-terrorism strategy following the terrorist attacks in the capital.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said there is “far too much tolerance” of Islamist extremism in Britain today.
Her comments came in the aftermath of the van and knife attack in London Bridge and Borough Market that saw seven people killed and dozens injured.
Police have raided addresses in Newham and Barking in connection with the atrocity.
She said while the three recent terror attacks in the UK were not linked by “common networks”, they were “bound together by the single evil ideology of Islamic extremism”.
Terror should be stamped out robustly through new “international agreements that regulate cyberspace”.
And we need to live our lives not in a series of “segregated, separated communities, but as one truly United Kingdom.”
Tahir Talati from Newham Mend (Muslim engagement and development)
He said the government’s counter-terrorism strategy Prevent was failing.
“It needs to put the Muslim community and Immams at the heart. There needs to be a complete revamp of that strategy and the manner in which it is carried out.
“The local Prevent officer in Newham was appointed a few years ago but I have never spoken to them and I don’t know of any imams they have approached either.”
He said the current policy meant people with just a few hours training were labelling Muslims, even children, as threats.
He added: “The real experts, the imams are not being put at the heart.”
He condemned the attacks on Saturday night and said: “The Muslim community is as appalled by this as everyone else and our condolences go to the families affected.
“I have read articles saying the Muslim community needs to do more. But I think we do what is required and it is unfair to target us.
“Imams here in Newham and up and down the country speak out against extremism of all types and we feel the same shock and outrage at this incident.”
Labour candidate for Bethnal Green And Bow Rushanara Ali
She agreed the government needed to “look at and review” the Prevent strategy.
She told the BBC: “We have called on the government successively for years to review the counter-terrorism strategy - look at what has worked and what’s failed and build on that.”
Criticising the overall cut in police numbers which existed Ms Ali said: “The police are at breaking point and Theresa May has to take responsibility.”
She appealed for everyone to co-operate with the police on combating the terror threat.
Mayor of Newham Sir Robin Wales
The Union flag at the Old Town Hall in Stratford is flying at half-mast, in solidarity with Southwark and he said a minutes silence would be held at 11am on Tuesday June 6 in all the council buildings.
He added: “There will always be those who seek to divide us or who want to challenge our unity,and our values.
“That was the case again on Saturday night when contemptable fanatics drove a van into innocent people enjoying a night out in South East London, before embarking on an horrific knife attack.
This morning the people of Newham stand with all those affected by this tragedy.
“Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives and with those who are injured.”
He urged people to be “calm and vigilant” and report suspicious activity, hate crime or “increased tensions” in the community to police.
Docklands Victims Association president Jonathan Ganesh
Education rather than hard-line tactics and punishment are the way to prevent extremism he said.
He was injured in the IRA bombing more than 20 years ago and now runs an anti-radicalisation program in east London.
“Theresa May says we need to be tougher and yes we do. But the way forward is education.
“We have to connect with people and turn them way from extremism because once people are radicalised they will give their lives for it.
“We have to change them not by force but by talking otherwise we may have the opposite effect.”
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs
He said: “I would like to send our sincerest condolences to those who have lost friends, family and loved ones as a result of the barbaric attack on Saturday evening. There can be no justification for these wicked and cowardly acts.
“The attackers sought to divide us, but London and Manchester have proven that their senseless crimes will never succeed. We will always stand together against attempts to divide us.
“The bravery and dedication of our emergency services is truly remarkable and they deserve our utmost gratitude. Their quick response, and the courage of individual people who stood up to the attackers, undoubtedly saved many lives.
“I urge residents to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
“There are no words to describe the grief and anger that our city is feeling this morning.
“Tragically, seven people have been killed in this sickening attack, and more than 40 injured, some of them critically.
“I am appalled and furious that these twisted and cowardly terrorists deliberately targeted innocent Londoners and visitors to our city who were just enjoying their Saturday night.
“I condemn these terrorists in the strongest possible terms. They are barbaric cowards and there is absolutely no justification for their evil and unforgivable actions.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of the victims and everyone caught up in this horrific attack.
“I’d like to thank our emergency services who bravely tackled the terrorists and helped the injured. I’ve been in close contact with the Met Police Commissioner and senior officers throughout the night and will be attending the government’s COBRA security meeting.
“I’d urge all Londoners to remain calm and vigilant today and over the days ahead. We are all shocked and angry today but this is our city - we will never let these cowards win and we will never be cowed by terrorism.”
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