MP calls on shocked town to pull together

MP calls on shocked town to pull together

DEWSBURY needs to pick itself up off the mat after last Sunday's suicide bomb outrage, MP Paula Sherriff has said.

The town was left reeling by reports that missing 17-year-old Talha Asmal killed himself and 10 others with a car bomb in Iraq.

National media attention has so far included a BBC Radio Two debate on Monday about "what's wrong with Dewsbury".

Other stories, in reference to the July 7 2005 attacks on London, branded the town a "hotbed for Muslim extremism."

The words "notorious" and "notoriety" were also used in connection to Dewsbury.

Miss Sherriff (Lab), who only became MP last month, appealed for people to unite in an effort to rebuild Dewsbury's shattered image.

She said: "There is so much good about Dewsbury, yet once again our town has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Web Paula Sherriff Dewsbury and Mirfield MP Paula Sherriff

"I want our community to demonstrate all that is positive about Dewsbury by remaining united.

"We must also work together to come up with strategies to ensure that no other boys or girls follow this path."

She met Talha's devastated family last Sunday night just hours after news first broke.

Thought not officially confirmed, he is believed to to have detonated a vehicle packed with explosives in Iraq’s Salahuddin province.

It is believed Talha, studying for A-Levels in ICT and business at Mirfield Free Grammar School, was groomed online.

Pupils there have been offered counselling while principal Lorraine Barker previously described Talha as "quiet and hard-working".

A picture emerged on Monday which may have been taken on his last day at Westborough High School in Dewsbury.

It shows him with good luck messages scrawled on his shirt and a school tie worn loosely around his neck as he celebrates the end of his GCSEs.

Miss Sherriff said: "We must do all we can to ensure no more impressionable young people are brainwashed by those behind Isis.

"These evil people use the internet and social media to target impressionable young people.

"They paint a very different picture to the reality of what is really happening in Isis-controlled areas."

She added: "We need to ensure that we have a robust plan to work with the community.

"We need work with the schools, the mosques, churches, the community groups and parents to try to ensure young people are aware of the reality of what is actually happening in Syria and Iraq." talha3_3340971b

Former foreign office diplomat Coun David Pinder said of Iraq: "It's a sign of the weakness of the West. We get worked up over situations to the point where we think something must be done.

"So we go in, thrash around a bit and then pull out. We don't stay long enough to give things time to alter themselves peacefully.

"You wonder what Iraq would be now if we'd left Saddam in place or not cut and run like we did."

The Mirfield town councillor, a Falklands veteran, said previous generations also went off to fight in the likes of the Spanish Civil War.

He added: "Young people have always been idealistic and the internet offers perfect opportunities for them to be groomed.

"What's interesting is that they're not going to fight crusaders, they're going to kill fellow Muslims.

He added of how the situation reflects on Dewsbury: "It's a condemnation of how we've allowed separate communities within communities.

"We need to do more to integrate. Minority and majority communities need to come together."

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