20 January 2011
In the last two days, the British government has taken two important steps to tackle prejudice against Muslims by banning the US anti-Muslim pastor Terry Jones from entering the UK and through today’s speech by Sayeeda Warsi, Britain’s first female Muslim cabinet minister, which calls for action to tackle ‘bigotry’ against Muslims.
Quilliam welcomes both these steps as being necessary towards building a more cohesive and united society free of extremism and intolerance.
Ghaffar Hussain, a Quilliam spokesman, said:
‘It is heartening to see the British government taking action to address the problem of bigotry and prejudice against Muslims. While freedom to criticise religions or aspect of religious belief or practice should be defended, we should not tolerate the stirring up of hatred or suspicion against individuals or groups of people simply on account of their religion. It is good to see the British government taking the lead on this issue.’
1. On Pastor Terry Jones – Quilliam welcomes yesterday’s decision by the Home Office to ban US anti-Muslim pastor Terry Jones from the UK on the grounds that his presence was ‘not conducive to the public good’. Terry Jones has plannd to speak at a number of far-right demonstrations organised by groups such as the English Defence League (EDL) and ‘England Is Ours’.
Ghaffar Hussain, a Quilliam spokesman, said:
‘Pastor Terry Jones’ clear intention in coming to the UK was to stir up tensions and rivalry between the UK’s different religious groups. The British government is not obliged to allow trouble-makers into the country and is correct in deciding to exclude Terry Jones. Britain does not need foreign extremists coming here purely to make trouble.
‘It is important however that the criteria used to exclude Jones are applied equally in future to individuals of all religions, races and backgrounds. Any perception of double-standards can only fuel tensions between our society’s different religious and ethnic groups.’
2. On Sayeeda Warsi – Quilliam welcomes the decision by Sayeeda Warsi, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, to give a speech today warning of the dangers of rising ‘bigotry’ against Muslims in Britain.
Ghaffar Hussain, a Quilliam spokesman, said:
‘Today’s comments by Sayeeda Warsi, the chairman of the Conservative Party, on the importance of tackling prejudice against Muslims are welcome and much needed. As the rise of groups like the ‘English Defence League (EDL) indicates, there is a growing bigotry against Muslims in particular that urgently needs to be addressed.
‘While Islamist terrorism and Islamist extremism pose a clear danger to our society that needs to be tackled, this cannot justify the demonization of Muslims as a whole. British Muslims have a right to live their lives without fear of attack and without being discriminated against because of their religion.’
Quilliam has campaigned frequently against anti-Muslim prejudice, for instance by producing and distributing a comprehensive refutation of the British National Party’s (BNP) slurs against British Muslims and it has frequently contacted the press about unbalanced and damaging coverage of British Muslims (see our open letters to the Daily Express and to Channel 4).
For further information or to arrange interviews, please call Quilliam’s media line on 0207-182-7286.