A MUSLIM leader believes knife attackers should be locked up for 42 days like terror suspects.

Sarfraz Sarwar, 60, said he couldn't see the difference between the knife crime epidemic and those accused of plotting and carrying out terror attacks.

Mr Sarwar, of Gordons, Pitsea, also backed calls for Sharia law to be introduced in Britain and said public flogging should be carried out in town centres.

His comments follow those made by Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, who said aspects of Sharia could be used to settle Islamic disputes, but not in the courts.

Mr Sarwar said: "What's the difference between knife criminals and suicide bombers?

"They should do exactly what they do with terrorists, "They should hold them for 42 days, question them and put them in prison and solve the problem."

He said Sharia law would act as a deterrent in solving crime in Britain.

He added: "If anybody is caught with a knife then give them ten lashes in the town centre.

"Sharia law is not controversial. It's a deterrent. Muslim countries don't have half the problems we have because Sharia law is there."

Aspects of Sharia law involve stoning, lashings and cutting off hands.

Mr Sarwar continues to run a minorities support group in Basildon. He was the leader of the Basildon Islamic Centre, in Laindon, before it was burnt down in 2006.

Mr Sarwar is also very concerned for the safety of Muslims today and says racial abuse has increased since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.

He said: "What is happening is mainly to do with misunderstanding. Maybe there is just a fear of the unknown.

"It is very difficult to work out why this is. I thought we were living in a modern European country, but it is like Victorian times. There is a lot of hate."

Mr Sarwar appears in a Channel 4 documentary tonight on the anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks.