Anti-Muslim bias now the social norm, UK cabinet minister says
Prejudice 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.
(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.”
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.
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?