Local communities in the UK must "root out" extremism, says Ruth Kelly

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

In a speech in South London this morning, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly has urged local communities to "root out" fanaticism.

She was speaking as head of the government's Commission on Integration and Cohesion. The commission was established to enhance community relations after the 7 July bomb attacks in London last year, and it will investigate how tensions between people of different ethnic groups and religions can be countered.

"Alongside the debate, we need action at all levels - national, but even more importantly from local communities themselves to help build united communities and root out all forms of extremism," Ms Kelly said.

She also warned that communities were becoming more and more secluded from each other. "In our attempt to avoid imposing a single British identity and culture, have we ended up with some communities living in isolation from each other with no common bonds between them?" she asked.

On the subject of immigration, Ms Kelly said it is not racist to discuss the issue. "We need a well-managed system of immigration that has clear rules and integrity to counter exploitations from the far right."

She also acknowledged that international events are having an impact on community relations. "Global tensions are being reflected on the streets of local communities," she said.

Damian Green, the Conservative Party's spokesman on immigration said, "There is a huge and vital challenge to be met in helping Britain's Muslim communities integrate fully with the rest of society. We hope that this latest government initiative has more substance than previous initiatives which have tended to grab a headline but then achieve very little in the long term."

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