Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and Communities Minister Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon have written to every mosque in England calling on religious leaders to show young people that “extremists have nothing to offer them”.
In the wake of the terrorist actions in Paris, the letter calls on faith leaders to demonstrate what being a British Muslim means, “proud of your faith and proud of your country”, and condemns the commandeering of Islam to justify killing.
The letter, which went out to more than 1,000 Islamic faith leaders, is clear that Britain would be much diminished without its strong Muslim communities and that British values are shared Muslim values.
It also points to the free legal advice that is available for those experiencing problems with preachers of hate.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
We have recently seen terrible atrocities committed in Paris. As Muslims around the world have made clear, such actions are an affront to Islam. We are proud of the reaction of British communities to this attack. Muslims from across the country have spoken out to say: not in our name.
But there is more work to do. We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them.
Faith leaders are in a unique position in our society and have an important responsibility to demonstrate how belief in Islam can go hand in hand with British identity. We know that acts of extremism are not representative of Islam; but we need to show what is and that our British values are shared Muslim values.
In the past week, ministers have also met with police chiefs to make sure that they are providing the support that mosques need. Last week, Lord Ahmad chaired a meeting with the Anti-Muslim Hatred Working Group to hear their worries and to reassure them of government’s concern for the safety of British Muslims.
Anyone experiencing violence should report it to the police online on the True Vision website or to Tell MAMA.
Communities Minister Lord Ahmad said:
British and Muslim values are the same – we find the extremist agenda of hijacking Islam abhorrent. We need to eradicate this evil from our society once and for all.
This letter could not have been more explicit – the issues of extremism and radicalisation can’t be dealt with in a vacuum and we are working in partnership with Islamic leaders to show that these recent attacks are nothing to do with their faith.
This letter also offers reassurance and the recognition that a Britain without Muslims, a Britain without Jews, Hindus, would not be the Britain we want to live in.