Religious leaders must be more open, says senior Muslim in UK

February 1, 2011

CANTERBURY, England

Religious leaders in Britain must make themselves more available to journalists in order to provide the public with “authentic, mainstream” views in order to overcome intolerance and misunderstanding, a senior Muslim leader has told ENInews.

Ibrahim Mogra, chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s Mosque and Community Committee, was reacting to a speech made at Leicester University Jan. 20 by Baroness Warsi, Minister without Portfolio in Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government and the first Muslim woman to attend Cabinet meetings.

Noting that over the last decade, the U.K.’s Muslim population had risen from 1.6 million to about 2.9 million, Baroness Warsi said that some Muslim communities must do much more to make clear to extremists that their beliefs and actions are unacceptable. “Those who commit criminal acts of terrorism need to be dealt with not just by the full force of the law. They also should face social rejection and alienation across society. But their acts must not be used as an opportunity to tarnish all Muslims.”

The baroness, who is chairperson of the Conservative Party, said that the notion that all followers of Islam can be described as either “moderate” or “extremist” can fuel misunderstanding and intolerance. She also condemned what she called “superficial and patronizing” reporting by some British journalists.

Echoing this viewpoint, Mogra told ENInews: “Sometimes we are our own worst enemy by not giving you guys the time of day or using you as a conduit to get our message out. I believe religious leaders should always be willing and available to talk to journalists to give them authentic, mainstream views and opinions about all the issues that arise in our country.”

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