Blunkett condemns 'sick people' targeting Muslims

War on Terrorism: Vigilantism
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The Independent Online

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, visited a mosque in Sheffield yesterday in the latest demonstration of the Government's support for Britain's Muslim community.

Mr Blunkett joined Muslim worshippers and community leaders in his constituency for a gathering to offer prayers to victims of the 11 September attacks. He condemned the rise in harassment suffered by British Muslims since the terrorists struck in Washington and New York.

On a visit to the Markazi mosque and Islamic centre, the Home Secretary answered questions from Muslim residents who were fearful of possible "revenge" attacks. In a clear rebuff to remarks by Baroness Thatcher, Mr Blunkett reiterated the Prime Minister's statement that Britain was not at war with Islam, adding that most Muslims had denounced the attacks. "All leading Muslim organisations have condemned the antics of a tiny minority, who have sought to cause dissension in communities and racial disharmony by mouthing abuse at the US," he said.

Mr Blunkett condemned anti-Islamic vigilantes who were targeting innocent Muslims, and he stressed the importance of mutual tolerance amongst different ethnic and religious communities. "The sick people who have spat at women wearing the hijab [veil], attacked taxi drivers or committed other attacks on ethnic minorities have no place in this country. Christians and Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus are committed together to a world of peace."

Mr Blunkett's visit coincided with a call from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, for Christians to pray for peace. "We are perhaps on the verge of action and therefore it is appropriate that the churches provide space for people to reflect," he said. He also spoke of praying for forgiveness for those who committed the attacks.