News / Europe

British MP: Muslim Prejudice 'Socially Acceptable'

Britain's Conservative Party co-chairman, and Minister without Portfolio, Sayeeda Warsi arrives for a cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London (File Photo).
Britain's Conservative Party co-chairman, and Minister without Portfolio, Sayeeda Warsi arrives for a cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London (File Photo).

A member of the British government said Thursday that prejudice against Islam has become socially acceptable in Britain. Baroness Warsi spoke as the country's Home Office blocked a U.S. preacher from entering Britain. Pastor Terry Jones caused outrage last year when he made plans for his church to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of September 11. 

Baroness Sayeeda Warsi is the first Muslim woman to sit in a British government cabinet. Speaking on Thursday, she said prejudice against Muslims in Britain had become socially acceptable - she said it had “passed the dinner-table test”.

Warsi spoke to the BBC before giving a speech on the subject. She said more needs to be done to turn the tide.

"This is about drawing a line as to the state of anti-religious hatred or bigotry in Britain today," she said.

Warsi said Muslims are regularly divided into “moderate” or “extremist” and she said this attitude is patronizing. Much of the blame, she said, is with Britain’s media.

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life there are almost three million Muslims living in Britain - around 5 percent of the population.

Anne Gray, from the London-based Campaign Against Criminalizing Communities, agrees that prejudice against Muslims is rife in Britain. But she says this socially accepted stigma is tied to attitudes within the government.

She highlights Britain’s controversial “stop and search” policing policy, which human rights groups say target ethnic minorities unfairly.

"The stop and search policy I think is a harassment of Muslims," she said. "When the police seek to defend it, it is again on the grounds that some degree of ethnic or cultural profiling is appropriate from what they know about where terrorists come from.

"A major worry," she says, "is the emergence of the English Defense League, a far-right political group in Britain that opposes the spread of Islamism in Britain.

“We've seen the English Defense League phenomenon go up in the last couple of years, which is beginning to target Muslim communities as the alien 'other' with the notion that they are antagonistic to British values and I find that extremely unfortunate and very unjustified.”

The English Defense League recently invited a controversial U.S. pastor to speak at an event in Britain. Pastor Terry Jones sparked widespread protests around the world when he called on his American church to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of September 11. On Wednesday Britain’s Home Office said Jones will not be allowed to enter Britain because the government opposes all forms of extremism.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs