UK: Government approach is alienating Muslims

A Government drive to engage with the Muslim community following the July 7 bomb attacks in London has bred “resentment and alienation” and driven people into the arms of violent extremists, according to a new report.

The report – which was part funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government – accused ministers of failing to engage with Muslims over “reasonable” grievances including British foreign policy in Iraq and elsewhere.

And instead of isolating extremists there is now a “wedge” between Muslims and everyone else enabling extremists to attract wider support, according to the report by think-tank Demos.

Attempts to involve Muslims in policy-making were also criticised, as being “rushed” and conducted on the Government’s terms.

“In the meeting rooms of Whitehall, ministers were assuring Muslim leaders of the need for partnership, but in press briefings they were talking of the need for Muslims to ‘get serious’ about terrorism, spy on their children, and put up with inconveniences in the greater good of national security,” the report said.

It added: “Despite some commendable attempts at engagement, the Government’s actions continue to drive a wedge between the majority of British Muslims and the rest of society, rather than isolating the violent few.”

Communities Minister Phil Woolas dismissed the report as “flawed” and “out of date” and accused Demos of trying to sensationalise the issue.

“Good community relations is already at the heart of our approach to tackling extremism and we are building strong, positive partnerships to isolate and defeat those who are seeking to harm us,” he said.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday December 4, 2006.
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