Islamophobia 'acceptable' in UK, party chairwoman warns

British Conservative Party's chairwoman warned Thursday that discrimination against Muslims in Britain has become "socially acceptable".

Islamophobia 'acceptable' in UK, party chairwoman warns

British Conservative Party's chairwoman on Thursday warned that discrimination against Muslims in Britain has become "socially acceptable".

"It has seeped into our society in a way where it is acceptable around dinner to have these conversations where anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry is quite openly discussed," Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the first Muslim woman to sit in the British cabinet, told the BBC.

Warsi, a member of the House of Lords and co-chair of the Conservative party, will make her statement in a speech later Thursday at the University of Leicester.

Warsi, the Pakistan-born minister without portfolio, will say in the speech, that dividing Muslims into "moderate" and "extremist" fuels intolerance, according to prepared remarks published in the Daily Telegraph.

Warsi will say in her speech that prejudice has grown with the numbers, and blame "the patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media".

The notion that all followers of Islam can be described either as "moderate" or "extremist" can fuel misunderstanding and intolerance.

"It is 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 is only fairly Muslim," she says.

"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'."

Defending her comments in a BBC television interview, she said her speech would place this criticism within historical context, citing how Britain had struggled to deal with its Catholic and Jewish minorities.

She said it was up to society, religious leaders and the government to change things, adding: "We have faced these challenges before, we have worked through it and I'm confident that as a nation we can work through it again."

Research published this month by the US-based Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found the Muslim population of Britain was now 2.9 million, or 4.6 percent of the population, up from 1.6 million in 2001.


Agencies

Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2011, 17:09
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