Young Muslims are being convicted of thought crimes and branded as terrorists for life, the country's most prominent Islamic leader has told The Times.
Muhammad Abdul Bari said police and prosecutors were criminalising youths for harbouring "silly thoughts" and were undermining Gordon Brown's £400 million drive to win Muslim hearts and minds.
Dr Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, was commenting ahead of the sentencing today of Samina Malik, a shop assistant who styled herself as "the lyrical terrorist", wrote poetry in praise of beheadings and joined extremist internet forums.
Malik, 23, burst into tears after an Old Bailey jury convicted her last month under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 of "possessing documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".
She was the first woman to be convicted under the terrorism legislation since the events of September 11.
The trial judge imposed bail conditions which he said amounted to house arrest and warned her that he was keeping sentencing options open.
Dr Bari told The Times: "Many young people download objectionable material from the internet, but it seems that if you are a Muslim then this could lead to terrorist charges, even if you have absolutely no intention to do harm to anyone else.
"Samina's so-called poetry was certainly very offensive but I don't believe that this case should really have been a criminal matter.
"Young people may well have some silly thoughts. That should not be criminalised. It is their actions that we should be concerned about." He said that if police were concerned about Malik they should have placed her under surveillance and detained her if she was involved in "actual terror-related activity".
Described as a "committed Islamic extremist", Malik, a shop assistant at Heathrow, hoarded an extensive collection of terrorism manuals, the Old Bailey heard.
She was a member of an extremist group linked to Omar Bakri Mohammed, a hate preacher who fled to Lebanon from Britain two years ago.
The court heard how police raided her home in Southall, West London, after an email from her was found on the computer of a terror suspect in October last year.
She had a profile on the social networking website Hi-5, where she called for the execution of "depraved" Westerners .
The British-born Muslim listed her interests as helping the Mujahideen "in any way I can".
She also wrote of how she enjoyed video messages from Osama Bin Laden and "videos that showed massacres of the kuffars", or non-Muslims.
In one poem, called The Living Martyrs, she called for Muslims to rise up against the infidels.
In another, How To Behead, she warned that the victim should be bound and blindfolded.
Malik, who worked as a shop assistant airside in a branch of WHSmith at the airport, also owned an Al Qaeda encyclopaedia of Jihad, a Mujahideen poison handbook and a 'terrorist handbook' which explained how to make bombs.
On the hard drive of her computer police found a copy of a sniper rifle manual, a firearms manual, anti-tank weaponry, a document entitled How To Win Hand To Hand Fighting, and pictures of weapons.
Outside the court, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said: "Malik held violent extremist views which she shared with other like-minded people over the internet.
"She also tried to donate money to a terrorist group. She had the ideology, ability and determination to access and download material which could have been useful to terrorists.
"Merely possessing this material is a serious criminal offence."
------IF only Samina Malik had worn her bling, rather than her hijab, when she wrote her splatter-gore poetry, she might not be facing 10 years jail.
But the 23-year-old Londoner had ditched hip-hop for Allah, and so a British jury was last month told to treat her as an enemy for writing lines you can hear belting out at 200 decibels at our grungier nightclubs.
Or, as it turns out, in the bedroom of your average school shooter.
Here's just one of Malik's poems - How to Behead - that was read out in court to prove the Heathrow bookshop employee was a terrorist menace:
It's not as messy or as hard as some may think
It's all about the flow of the wrist. No doubt that the punk will twitch and scream
But ignore the donkey's ass
And continue to slice back and forth
You'll feel the knife hit the wind and food pipe
But don't stop
Continue with all your might.
Gross, right? Sick for sure.