Muslim leaders object to Pickles letter
Claims that MP views ‘Muslims solely to be blamed for terrorist activities’
Bradford’s Council for Mosques has said the Muslim community deserves an ‘apology’ from Britain’s community’s secretary, after a letter deemed to imply ‘Muslims are not part of British society’ was sent to Islamic leaders.
Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, sent out 1,000 letters asking the leaders to ‘explain and demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity’.
It was signed by Mr Pickles and community minister, Lord Ahmad, and sent out after the Paris attacks earlier this month.
In response to the message, Bradford’s President for the Council for Mosques, Mohammed Rafiq Sehgal, said it seems Pickles believes Muslims are ‘solely to be blamed’ for terrorist acts.
“Eric Pickles’ letter to the Islamic leadership is highly objectionable on several grounds,” a statement from Mr Sehgal read. “Inadvertently, it blames and targets the Muslim community.
“The statement incorrectly implies that Muslims are not part of the British society and are at unease with it, hence, they need to do more to be inclusive.
“We ask why the letter has only been sent to the Muslim leaders and not more widely to the leadership of other faiths and non faith communities. This clearly suggests that in Mr Pickle’s views Muslims are solely to be blamed for terrorists’ activities.
“This is typical of the thinking amongst the Government ministers and the security agencies.”
In the letter, Mr Pickles did say he was proud of the way the British Muslim community had responded to the Paris attacks earlier this month, yet added there was more work to be done in rooting out extremist behaviour.
Mr Sehgal said the comments seemed to relate with many ‘right wing’ sentiments and ‘picked on’ Muslims.
The statement continues: “Mr Eric Pickles and his partner in crime Lord Ahmad are guilty of overlooking the fact that for British Muslims Britain is their home and take the safety of their ‘home’ very seriously.
“Therefore, for senior politicians to continuously pick on Muslims and blame them for the activities of terrorists who do not care for the faith of their victims, is unjustified and grossly out of context.
“We ask Mr Pickles to publically apologise to the Muslim community for bringing this peaceful section of the British society into disrepute. Blaming Muslims may win Mr Pickles and his party some support from the right wing voters but it does not help good community relations.”
Despite criticism from several faith leaders, Prime Minister David Cameron publically backed the letter.
“Anyone who reads this letter - and I've read the letter - will see that what he is saying is that British Muslims make a great contribution to our country, that what is happening in terms of extremist terror has nothing to do with the true religion of Islam,” he said.
“It's being perverted by a minority who have been radicalised. Anyone reading this letter, who has a problem with it, I think really has a problem.”
To read Mr Pickles’ letter in its entirety please see picture attached.