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February 22, 1999

Prime Minister expresses sympathy for Muslim concerns

Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in a written interview with the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed Versi, expressed sympathy for Muslim concerns and stressed the importance of Muslims integrating into public life.

In a wide ranging interview, the Prime Minister answered questions from legislation to outlaw religious discrimination to his vision of where the Muslim community is heading as we enter the new Millennium.

On outlawing religious discrimination, he said the Government was "thinking seriously about ways of addressing the concerns".
The Prime Minister rejected suggestions that the Government has double standards in its foreign policy. There is a perception in the Muslim community that Muslim countries are treated differently to non-Muslim ones. For example, no action has been taken over Israel, which has occupied southern Lebanon for 15 years, yet, military action and stringent economic sanction was taken against Iraq over its invasion of Kuwait. He said the Government "insists that Israel, India and Pakistan, like Iraq, comply with the UN Security Council Resolutions in accordance with their obligations under the UN Charter".

Blair considered it "nonsense" that Islam and Muslims were a threat to the West, now that communism is dead. On the contrary, "we share an intertwined history which has helped shape the world we have inherited and enriched us all".

The Prime Minister's vision of where the Muslim community is heading in the new Millennium is in the community "fully represented at all levels of public life and seen as an integral part of British society".

The Editorial welcomes the Blair's positive approach to the Muslim concerns but reminds the Prime Minister that part of the answer to the high unemployment, homelessness, making Muslims as one of the most deprived sections of British society, lies in discrimination. Muslims "suffer double discrimination, because of colour and religion" and "is suffering social exclusion most". So, says the Editorial, the Government needs to address this problem.

The Editorial says it is not convinced of the Prime Minister's argument on the double standards in dealing with Muslim countries in foreign policy. It is such policies of the Government that "makes it difficult to convince the Muslims that the West is not against Islam".

For further information contact us on 020 7608 2822 or 077 68 241 325. Please acknowledge The Muslim News when using the press release

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