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Hain's comments on Muslim separatism start political row

Hain's comments on Muslim separatism start political row

Author: David Charter
Publication: The Times, UK
Date: May 13, 2002

 Peter Hain, the Europe Minister, was criticised yesterday for describing a tendency among Muslims to be "very isolationist".

Mr Hain a veteran antiapartheid campaigner, said that problem arising from religious differences could bemore dangerous than problems of racial difference Simon hughes, the Liberal Democrat Home affairs spokesman said however, that identifying Muslims as the group most guilty of separatism was simplistic and dangerous.

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Hain aid: "Islam is now a much bigger factor than recial tension and we are going to need to resolve that together not by targeting Muslims as [the Dutch politician Pim] Fortuyn was doing but sending a clear message the British Muslims are welcome here and enrich our culture, but also that they must be part of our culture.

"Muslim immigrant can be very isolations in their own behaviour and their own customs. That in the end is going to create real difficulties and is likely to be ripe for exploitation by extremists, whether it is followers of bin Laden on the one hand or racists on the other."

Mr. Hughes said at a speak out Against Racism rally in London: "Identifying Muslims as they group most guilty of separatism in the UK, as the Minister for Europe has done, is simplistic and dangerous. There are many national, recial and faith communities where lack of good English and different religious traditions keep them away from too much of mainstream British culture and participation.

"The tendency to isolationism is also much more common in certain age groups, whatever their faith, and in several communities amongst women rather than men. Until we establish religious equality in this country we cannot expect equally of political participation.

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