Eric Pickles criticised for asking Muslim leaders to promote British values

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Local government secretary Eric Pickles is under fire, after writing a letter to Muslim leaders asking them to promote “British values”.

The Tory minister wrote a letter to more than 1000 Islamic leaders – claiming that the Muslim community must work harder to promote “British values” against the “voices of division”.

He wrote: “We must show our young people, who may be targeted, that extremists have nothing to offer them (…) We must show them the multitude of statements of condemnation from British Muslims; show them these men of hate have no place in our mosques or any place of worship, and that they do not speak for Muslims in Britain or anywhere in the world.”

“You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility: in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity.

“We believe together we have an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of British Islam today.

“There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country.”

Though he calls for respect for British values, Mr Pickles did not mention the issue of homophobia within the Muslim community in the letter.

Harun Khan of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “Is Mr Pickles seriously suggesting, as do members of the far right, that Muslims and Islam are inherently apart from British society?”

Prime Minister David Cameron has stepped in to defend Mr Pickles.

He said: “Anyone who reads this letter – and I’ve read the letter – will see that what he is saying is that British Muslims make a great contribution to our country, that what is happening in terms of extremist terror has nothing to do with the true religion of Islam.

“It’s being perverted by a minority who have been radicalised.”