Anti-Muslim bias now the social norm, UK cabinet minister says

January 20, 2011

warsiPrejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test” and become socially acceptable in Britain, says the Conservative Party’s chairwoman Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.

Warsi, a Pakistan-born minister without portfolio in Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet, will say in a speech at the University of Leicester on Thursday evening that dividing Muslims into “moderate” and “extremist” fuels intolerance, according to prepared remarks published in the Daily Telegraph.

(Photo: Baroness Warsi at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, October 3, 2010/Toby Melville)

“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,'” according to the first Muslim woman in a British cabinet. “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.'”

There are 2.9 million Muslims in Britain, almost 5 percent of the population, according to an estimate last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Britain has regularly been a focus of Islamist militant plots. In the worst attack in the country, suicide bombers killed 52 people on the London transport network in July 2005.

no more mosques(Photo: A man holds up a banner during a demonstration by the English Defence League in Birmingham September 5, 2009/Darren Staples)

“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 was due to say. “They also should face social rejection and alienation across society and their acts must not be used as an opportunity to tar all Muslims.”

 Read the full story by Olesya Dmitracova here.

Warsi’s comments have already prompted lively reactions in Britain:

“Hostility to Muslims has “passed the dinner-table test”, a peer claims. So how did this item of furniture become the benchmark for what is and isn’t acceptable to say?” asked the BBC’s Jon Kelly.

“The Tory peer is spot on about bigotry and Islamophobia” says Mehdi Hasan in the New Statesman.

“Baroness Warsi should think twice before accusing Christians of bigotry” writes Norman Tebbitt in the Daily Telegraph.

What do you think? Has anti-Muslim prejudice “passed the dinner-table test” in the UK or other western countries? If so, where do you see this?

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I agree with Lady Warsi that Islam is misunderstood. The extremist hijack the whole notion of peaceful and tolerant Islam which is why the public gets mixed messages. Hence it is important to note that Islam has no link to terrorism what so ever as discussed in the historic Fatwa on Terrorism. Islam is a peaceful and tolerant faith and I agree there is a real need to educate the public and to promote the truth about Islam.

My organisation Minhaj-ul-Quran UK has always been working to promote British values of integration, democracy, interfaith harmony and tolerance for many years. We have been at the forefront of the fight against extremism in this country.

The founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has recently said that “The hollow notion of ‘Clash of Civilization’ needs to be replaced with ‘Dialogue among Civilizations’. The enhanced engagement among different religions especially Islam and Christianity would serve to build bridges and raze down walls that separate us. Islam stands for peace, harmony and human development.”

Posted by ShahidMursaleen | Report as abusive

Yes, it’s gotten dangerous & passed from only oddballs believe it – to being believed by mainstream.

Meanwhile though, within the Muslim community there’s an even higher level of intolerance at Jews & Israel. While many will say they are accepting of Jews & it’s just about Israeli politics, in reality they have swallowed the classic falsehoods about Jews used for centuries, & all sorts of false claims about Israel.

So the cleanups need to go in many directions.

Posted by tcurls | Report as abusive