British Muslims warn Prime Minister Tony Blair over foreign policy

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Some of the United Kingdom's most influential British Muslims have written a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair saying that there must be urgent changes to UK foreign policy.

In the memo, they say current government policy musters fanaticism and puts ordinary people at risk in both the United Kingdom and abroad. They also urge the Prime Minister to extend his efforts in tackling terrorism and extremism.

The letter has been signed by three Muslim Members of Parliament, three Muslim peers and thirty-eight Muslim groups including the Muslim Council of Britain, the Muslim Association of Britain, the British Muslim Forum and the Muslim Solidarity Committee.

Sadiq Khan, one of the Members of Parliament to sign the letter, condemns the Government’s stance on the Middle East. "This government has had some major foreign policy successes that have helped make the world a better place. But current policy on the Middle East is seen by almost everyone I speak to as unfair and unjust."

"Whether we like it or not such a sense of injustice plays into the hands of extremists. As moderates we will do all we can to fight extremism. We hope the government will join us in this, not just by changing the rules on hand luggage, but by showing itself as an advocate for justice in the world."

In a response to the letter, a 10 Downing Street spokesman said: "We should always remember that the terrorism affecting the West today has blighted Muslim countries for several decades. It certainly pre-dated our decision to support democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq and of course the September 11 attacks. Our foreign policy is focused on supporting the people of those countries in their desire to live in a democracy just as we enjoy in the UK."

Downing Street also said that Tony Blair "stands ready" to meet with Muslim representatives when he returns to the UK from his holiday in the Caribbean.

The letter comes after police foiled an alleged attempt by terrorists to blow up several planes travelling mid-air from the United Kingdom to the United States of America.