British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for an end to attacks against Muslims in retaliation for the terrorist hijackings in the United States.
Mr. Blair met Thursday with British Muslim leaders to hear their concerns. Afterward, he appeared at a news conference flanked by British Muslim leaders to declare that the suicide hijackings in America should not be linked to the Muslim faith. "What happened in America was not the work of Islamic terrorists. It was not the work of Muslim terrorists," the prime minister said. "It was the work of terrorists, pure and simple. We must not honor them with any misguided religious justification."
The attacks have been blamed on alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden, who has operated from Afghanistan. He is accused of deploying a global network of terrorists recruited from disaffected Muslim youths from across the Middle East and South Asia.
Mr. Blair also called for an end to reprisals on British Muslims. "I condemn unreservedly and I urge everyone to do likewise," he said, "the despicable attacks on people in this country simply because of their religion or the color of their skin."
Also at the news conference was Yousuf Bhailok, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain.
Mr. Bhailok said it is wrong to question the loyalty of Muslims to Britain. "There is no contradiction between being Muslim and being a British citizen," he said. "So I must emphasize this. Muslims in this country are just as equal, just as British, as every single one of us here."
Both Mr. Blair and Mr. Bhailok said the war on terrorism must also have a humanitarian aspect, to provide food and other assistance to Afghan refugees who continue to flee their homeland.