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Blair moves to ease Muslim fears

Blair: Battle not with Islam but with terrorism
Blair: Battle not with Islam but with terrorism  

LONDON, England -- Muslim community leaders from across the UK are to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday as he seeks to reassure them that the U.S.-led "war against terror" is not a threat to Islam.

Blair has played a high profile role in attempting to win support for the U.S. as it bids to build a coalition to take action against those responsible for the attacks on the U.S.

A spokeswoman for Blair's office said Blair would tell Muslim leaders that "our fight is not with Islam but with the terrorists who committed the atrocities on September 11."

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Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden has been named by London and Washington as the "prime suspect" behind the attacks.

There have been reports in Britain of increased tension within Muslim communities amid concern from Islamic leaders that their followers are being blamed for the attacks.

Blair's spokeswoman said the UK prime minister would try to allay those fears.

She said he would tell the Muslim leaders that he recognised that "these atrocities went against all the proper teachings of the Muslim faith and the Koran" and that Islam is "tolerant and peace loving religion."

Blair will stress his government's "desire ... to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks on the U.S. and to dismantle the machinery of terrorism," she said.

Among those due to meet Blair at the 1400 GMT talks at Downing Street are Iqbal Sacranie from the Muslim Aid organisation and Yousuf Bhailok and Fatma Amer from the Muslim Council of Britain.


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