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May 12, 2002

Hainís Islamophobic comments condemned

Minister of Europe, Peter Hain, was criticized by The Muslim News Sunday for making Islamophobic remarks to the Sunday Times in an interview given in the wake of the assassination of right wing Dutch politician, Pim Fortuyn.

The Government seems to be blaming rise of the BNP and other right wing groups in Britain and in Europe on the victims, ie the Muslim community, says the paper. Instead of criticising the poor desperate people from Muslim countries seeking asylum in Britain, perhaps Hain should address the destructive role of Britain and the West in the asylum seeker's countries of origin. Surely he can't expect the people of sanctions-ravaged Iraq or war-torn Afghanistan to remain at home, it challenges. Issues of community relations, racism and immigration are not linked in the way implied by Hain says The Muslim News On Line.

Particularly offensive is Hain's implied suggestion that second and third generation British Muslims are still 'foreigners' if they maintain their religious identity. In fact that is the main problem with Hain's comments: he seems to be implying that people conforming to only certain undefined types of behaviour and practice of religion are welcome and entitled to full British citizenship, whilst others are not.

Calling Muslims in Britain 'isolationist' is a cover used by the Government to hide its failure to provide protection to the religious communities.

Hain should recognise, says The Muslim News Online, that even the Metropolitan Police Commissioner acknowledges that there is lack of protection in law for Muslims and this is the problem, not the Muslims' role in society. This admission was made by John Steven in comments made following the backlash against Muslims experienced in the wake of September 11.

Though it is true that there are Muslims with a very narrow interpretation of their religion and for social and cultural reasons feel and are made to feel excluded, by and large, the Muslims play an active and constructive role in British society, contributing to its richness and diversity. The pockets of isolation are in proportion to those of the Jewish community with its pockets of ultra-Orthodoxy - there is a lack of even-handedness again in this Government's attitude to citizens from the minority communities.

It may be, says the paper that the reason for this outburst by Hain is the poor perception of the British Government's foreign policy on Palestine, Kashmir and Afghanistan held by the Muslim community. The British Government thought it would get the backing of British Muslims on the bombing of Afghanistan. They didn't. They used Muslim parliamentarians and councillors (all Labour) to support them, but many of them later retracted saying they were misled by the Government.
Even though Muslims in Britain have not as much clout as other faith groups, they will not take Islamophobic attacks by the Government sitting down, warns The Muslim News.

For further information contact us on 020 8863 8586 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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