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Passion Islam I October 2008 LOCAL & NATIONAL NEWS I 9
UK government urged to forge
‘fairness’ agenda with Muslims
The British government was urged to year-long research project, in which he how best to reconnect to constituencies
reconnect with the country’s two million challenges the government’s “revolving that are often disillusioned, disengaged
Muslim community and forge a ‘fairness’ door” consultations policy with Muslim and disadvantaged. “Instead our priority
agenda. groups which he said lack credibility and must be to address the major obstacles
“An effective agenda to provide was doomed to fail. that prevent many Muslims becoming
opportunity and tackle extremism across “Its now time for Labour to start making fully active participants in mainstream
all communities must go beyond a real and meaningful alliances, which civic society, while helping individuals to
narrow approach to security, by forging a are not predicated on towing the party climb the social ladder and take up new
progressive response on inequality,” said line but are based on a real, open and opportunities,” he said
Muslim Labour MP Sadiq Khan. honest relationship with a wide spectrum In his call for social justice, the MP
Khan, who is a junior member of Prime of Muslim individuals and groups,” the also urged Muslim communities to play
Minister Gordon Brown’s government assistant whip said. a part, saying that while the government
as an assistant whip, warned that the His criticism comes after the government should act against religious discrimination,
ruling Labour Party can “no longer take ended its regular consultations with the domestically Muslims need to recognize
Muslim votes for granted” as it has in the umbrella Muslim Council of Britain and “childcare is as important as Kashmir.”
past and that “rebuilding bridges will be other leading organizations and instead Khan, who is of Pakistani parentage but
difficult after Iraq.” In a pamphlet for the started to promote groups that it helped to was born in the UK, also stressed the
Fabian Society, the UK’s oldest think-tank create that supported its policies. advantages of learning good English,
where he is vice chair, he argued that the “We have been often completely saying it was a “passport to participation in
government “must learn lessons” from bypassing, and even needlessly mainstream society - jobs, education and
Muslim disillusionment. aggravating, some national groups even being able to use health services.”
His ‘fairness not favours’ approach was and their spokespersons, because of “A failure to deal with the inequalities of
to help “forge a new agenda on inequality disagreements with the policies and views British Muslim women flies in the face of
and life chances, public engagement in they are perceived to hold,” Khan said. any attempts to build a socially just and
foreign policy, an inclusive Britishness, “We have ended up trying to re-invent fair society,” he said, while also urging
and rethinking the role of faith in public the wheel, causing huge offence to those all mosques to take gender equality
life.” neglected Muslim organisations and at seriously.
“The argument which must underpin the same time failing to effectively connect As well as calling for measures to
an effective agenda for citizenship and with individuals or organisations properly,” tackle Islamophobia in the workplace, the
integration is this: we can only get it he warned. Labour MP suggested that there should be
right for British Muslims if we get it right Fabian’s vice chair said the government a programme to improve the achievement
for everybody,” said Khan, who is also a “cannot let how we win votes, or how we by Muslim boys in schools and for more
human rights lawyer. tackle terrorism or extremism become ambassadors and diplomats to come from
The 95-page pamphlet draws on a the primary factors when we consider more diverse backgrounds.
Drugs smear case shows
weakness of UK laws
The Muslim News has criticised the His criticism comes as Muslim police
weakness of recently passed British laws officers were demanding an explanation as
on religious incitement following the failure to why the police had not provided adequate
to prosecute the BNP over a leaflet which advice to the Crown Prosecution Service
blames Muslims for the heroin trade. (CPS) which led to no action being taken
“It just shows that incitement to over a leaflet, which was distributed by the
religious hatred legislation is inadequate BNP members since June to hundreds of
and the BNP members use the loophole addresses in parts of Lancashire, Cumbria
to target Muslims.” said The Muslim News and Yorkshire. It smears Muslims as
Editor, Ahmed J Versi. being “almost exclusively responsible” Deputy Chief Constable for Lancashire
“If the leaflets were targeted at other for the heroin trade 95% of which it says Constabulary Mike Cunningham said:
ethnic communities like the Jews and comes from the Afghanistan and Pakistan “Whilst we understand that this advice is
Black people then the perpetrators region. It also suggested “naming and based on established case law, we roundly
would have been charged for incitement. shaming” Muslims to tackle the problem. condemn the contents of these leaflets
Muslims, in contrast, are free for all,” Versi The National Association of Muslim Police and those distributing them” Cunningham
said. “Such incitement language results (NAMP) said the CPS had effectively said it was “inflammatory in nature” and
in attacks against Muslims and mosques allowed the people in question to continue that the police were “obviously concerned
as the leaflets blame all Muslims for drug distributing the material. that their distribution in Lancashire could
peddling.” In a statement to The Muslim News damage community cohesion.”
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