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Islam bigger factor than racial tension, says UK minister

Islam bigger factor than racial tension, says UK minister

Author: Vijay Dutt
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: May 13, 2002

British Minister for Europe Peter Hain has warned that Muslim immigration and the backlash against it poses a greater danger than racism and tensions arising from it.

He criticised sections of the Muslim community for being "very isolationist" and said their behaviour allowed the extremists to exploit cultural divisions.

The minister also pointed out that the increased number of immigration from Islamic countries together with the refusal of some to adopt British culture threatened to "create real difficulties".

These comments were made by Hain, a campaigner against racism and a founder member of Anti-Nazi League in Britain, while discussing in an interview with the Sunday Times, the rise of the far right in Europe and the murder of Pim Fortuyn, the populist Dutch politician who had been highly critical of the Muslims in his country. He used to say their culture was backward.

Hain said, "Islam is now a much bigger factor than racial tension and we are going to need to resolve that together." He mentioned religious intolerance as a threat to racial harmony. Hain's remarks have, however, irked the community leaders.

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