1st October 2001
Representatives of the British Muslim community today met with the Conservative Party Leader Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP at the Conservative’s Central Office.
The meeting called by the Conservative Party leader granted the Muslim community’s representatives the opportunity to discuss matters affecting British Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the US. Matters such as Islamophobia, indiscriminate attacks on British Muslims and the humanitarian and refugee crisis unfolding in Afghanistan made up the bulk of issues raised by community leaders with Mr Duncan Smith.
Mr Duncan Smith assured the Muslim representatives that the Conservative Party would do everything possible to ‘ensure good community relations and the protection of mosques and other places of worship’. He added that Muslims contributed greatly to the cultural, social and economic life of Britain and that the Conservative Party was committed to increasing the role of the Muslim community in public life and within his party.
The MCB Secretary General, Mr Yousuf Bhailok mentioned that Her Majesty’s Opposition had a duty to ensure that the impending crisis was fully debated in Parliament and all options including the diplomatic outcome be explored. Action had to be taken on many fronts and not just on military action. “Terrorism is not confined to any one state nation,” said Mr Bhailok.
He further stated that “no innocent lives should be lost and action taken must be within international framework and taking into account the due process of law. Also, the root causes of problems giving rise to terrorism including resolution of Middle East problems need to be addressed. Politicians and media need to be sensitive to the use of language, particularly in light of the outrageous comments made recently by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Parliament should consider legislating against incitement to religious hatred and religious discrimination”.
Mr Duncan Smith went on to express his concerns on the plight of Afghan refugees stating that the Conservative Party understood the ‘vital importance of aiding innocent Afghans who are suffering because of the policies of the Taliban regime’.
The meeting with Iain Duncan Smith continues the range of initiatives taken by Muslim leaders in Britain to safeguard the Muslim community at home and to communicate their thoughts and feelings on the events of recent weeks and their impact and implications for Muslims elsewhere.