Muslim extremists are mirror image of BNP, says Cameron
Monday January 29, 2007
David Cameron today compared British Muslim extremists to the British National party, claiming that they were the “mirror image” of the racist organisation.
In a keynote speech on community cohesion, the Tory leader said that extremism was one of five “Berlin walls of division” blocking community cohesion.
Mr Cameron demanded an end to the oppression of women inside the Muslim community who are denied the opportunity to go out to work or attend university.
And he warned that difficult issues must not be avoided by hiding behind a “screen of cultural sensitivity”.
Raising educational standards, controlling immigration and tackling poverty all had important roles to play in bringing down the barriers, he said at the event in Lozells, Birmingham.
Mr Cameron's strong attack on the failure to improve community cohesion comes as a survey published by the Policy Exchange reveals growing militancy among young Muslims who feel they have less in common with non-Muslims than their parents' generation.
While the majority of Muslims feel they have as much, if not more, in common with non-Muslims in Britain than with Muslims abroad, the figure dropped from 71% of over-55s to 62% among 16-24-year-olds, the survey found.
The percentage of people who said they would prefer to send their children to Islamic state schools increased from 19% for over-55s to 37% of 16-24-year-olds.
The number who said they would prefer to live under Sharia law than British law increased from 17% of over-55s to 37% of 16-24-year-olds.
Mr Cameron insisted that the question of community cohesion was not “all about terrorism or all about Muslims”. But he went on to attack fundamentalist Muslims who sought to rupture efforts at cohesion.
“Whether it's the BNP, or those who want to separate British Muslims from the mainstream, their aim is to act within the law to subvert its ends, changing the law as and when they can to achieve their ends,” Mr Cameron said.
“We must mobilise the instruments of public policy to draw people away from supporting such ideologies.
“The BNP pretend to be respectable. But their creed is pure hate… and those who seek a Sharia state, or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP.
“They also want to divide people into 'us' and 'them.' And they too seek out grievances to exploit. ”
Mr Cameron also insisted it was important to be bold as he highlighted the plight of many Muslim women denied access to education, work and political engagement.
“I'm told time and time again by women that the denial of these opportunities is not because of their Islamic faith but because of current cultural interpretations in Britain.
“We must therefore be bold, and not hide behind the screen of cultural sensitivity… to say publicly that no woman should be denied rights which both their religion and their country, Britain, support.”
The government's failure to control immigration was another key source of tension, he added.
The Tory leader also attacked educational apartheid created by the existence of “good and bad schools” that denied some a decent education and made them prey to extremists who offered “easy explanations and point the finger of blame at other people … instead of becoming productive citizens who can make a constructive contribution to the community and the country”.
“Some make it despite the obstacles – but too many don't. Those who get left behind are prime targets for extremists who offer easy explanations and point the finger of blame at other people.”
Mr Cameron also took the opportunity to criticise a recent government decision to pull free language classes for migrant workers as running contrary to government pledges to help integration. “Quite how that helps bring the country together I don't know,” he said.