A British cabinet minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, will denounce the anti-Muslim sentiment that she says has become socially acceptable in a speech on Thursday night, the text of which has been excerpted by the Daily Telegraph. Warsi, a Pakistani-born minister who is also the chairwoman of the Conservative Party, will say that dividing Muslims into “moderate” and “extremist” will only end up fueling more hate.
Muslims comprise about 5 percent of the British population. London and other British cities have several times been the centers of Islamist plots, the most notable of which was the London subway bombing in July 2005, in which 52 people died.
“Those who commit criminal acts of terrorism in our country need to be dealt with not just by the full force of the law,” Warsi will say.
But, she will add, “It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of ‘moderate’ Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: ‘Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’,” she will say. In the school, the kids say: ‘The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’. And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: ‘That woman’s either oppressed or is making a political statement’.”
The BBC has had a series of stories recently about a Bedfordshire town called Luton, which was the subject of much controversy in December because it was the home of the man who was named in the Stockholm bombing. He apparently attended the Luton Islamic Centre briefly, but “stormed out” after his extremist views were criticized. The town is also the home of the English Defence League, a group which holds angry and sometimes violent anti-Islamist demonstrations across the country. It is apparently highly segregated and demonstrates some of the worst ethnic or sectarian frictions that can occur in Britain.
The Luton borough council is trying to prevent the English Defence League from staging a march on February 5. Meanwhile, it’s a great sign that a legislator is willing to so boldly say what British Muslims are surely feeling – and let’s hope that Warsi continues to speak out.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.