Hasan Suroor

LONDON: A majority of Britain's Muslim community has lost confidence in the country's police chief Ian Blair for his handling of the anti-terror campaign and wants him to quit, according to a Guardian/ICM poll.

The poll, taken two weeks after a controversial raid at the home of a Muslim Bangladeshi family in East London, shows that 54 per cent of Muslims wants Sir Ian to resign over the raid during which one man was shot at by the police and wounded.

Although the police had claimed they had "specific'' intelligence that the house was being used as a "bomb factory'', a week-long search yielded nothing and the two men who were arrested for allegedly planning a terrorist attack had to be released without any charge.

Police have since apologised for the way the raid was conducted but insist that they were right to act on the intelligence they had. According to the poll, 57 per cent Muslims believe that the police have no right to conduct pre-emptive raids on the basis of intelligence which might turn out to be wrong.

"This view contrasts sharply with that held by the general public. When the same question was asked of a representative sample of all adults, 74 per cent said the police were right to act, and 17 per cent said they were wrong,'' The Guardian said analysing the poll results.

Muslim leaders said the poll reflected the perception in the community that it was being unfairly targeted by the police. Muhammed Abdul Bari, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the respondents could be "reacting against many hundreds of Muslims who have been arrested in high-profile raids across the country since 9/11''.

But he agreed that the police had the right to act on "credible'' intelligence.