London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [25]

Session date: 
July 20, 2005
Question By: 
John Biggs
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I would share that with you, and I think the Assembly could distinguish itself, for a change, if it carried out such a piece of work. The second question I had is about the support we are giving to and the consultations and discussions we are having with Muslim Londoners in particular. I know that you have been involved in a number of meetings and initiatives ' and indeed, I have ' and I know that other Assembly Members have as well.

I was wondering if you wanted to pass comment on the summit that took place yesterday in Downing Street, and whether in London we need to look at versions of that, and in particular whether you might want to comment on the views of ' I think it was ' Yasmin Qureshi (Mayor's Human Rights Adviser) who said that there was a potential risk that community leaders, being elders, had a gulf between themselves and some of the younger people and their views in the community.

Supplementary To: 


Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [25]

Answer for London Bomb Attacks (Supplementary) [25]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

We are all aware of the fact ' and we have discussed this at other meetings here ' there is a gulf between the political class in this country and particularly younger voters. All of us, I think, have been very depressed to see the turnout for the elections drop. I know as I go round the Labour Party, I do not think ' and I suspect this is true for all parties ' we are getting the influx of new young people in the numbers that was the case in the 1970s or 1980s. Young people increasingly turn to issue groups and so on and are not that engaged, so the question of the alienation of Muslim youth is not unique to Muslim youth. Increasingly, younger people across the whole political spectrum feel we do no represent them and that their views do not get taken up.

You then have the added problem in this city ' which the LDA have begun to tackle with their reaching out to employers to change their recruitment practices ' that Muslim youth in this city are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than the average. This is not acceptable. We also have the problem that I think is really damaging, that you can get one completely unrepresentative, barmy imam who has supporters of 20 or 30, who can be on the front page of paper after paper after paper, simply because he says a succession of completely outrageous things. This comes to stereotype an entire community.

There is deep resentment amongst the vast majority of Muslim leadership in this city that these people get a disproportionate scale of coverage, and it happens again and again because it sells the papers. These people do not represent London's Muslims, and they certainly do not represent any serious strand of Islamic ideology. All of these things come together.

There are, as well, genuine outstanding grievances going back decades in terms of global politics. I was very pleased to hear the Prime Minister's (Tony Blair) speech on Saturday, when he specifically rejected this nonsense that some are peddling that we are inevitably heading towards a clash of civilisations between Islam and the west. Let us also not forget, the same author (Samuel Huntington, Author, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order) talked about a clash between the west and China.

When you actually look at this city, with its huge Chinese community, its huge Muslim community and people working together, there is no inevitable clash of civilisations. What we are demonstrating is slowly the world can come together with shared values expressed differently in different cultures.