Blair campaigns against 'poisonous misinterpretation' of Islam

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Indy Politics

The Prime Minister has called a Downing Street summit next Tuesday at which ministers, opposition parties and Muslim community leaders will discuss how moderates can win the hearts and minds of Muslims - particularly young people.

Mr Blair told the Commons that the aim was to combat the "perverted and poisonous misinterpretation" of Islam behind last week's attacks and to "pull up this evil ideology by its roots". He said: "In the end, this can only be taken on and defeated by the community itself."

The move came as further details emerged of the plot carried out by the suicide bombers responsible for Thursday's atrocities. A bath filled with explosives was found at the house in Leeds that was the "operational base" for the four bombers. In a separate development, anti-terrorist officers were also hunting for a fifth member of the terror gang thought to be on the run.

Mr Blair said the Government would start talks with other parties about anti-terrorism moves, including a crackdown on Muslim clerics accused of whipping up anti-Western feeling. Existing rules may be tightened to make it easier to deport from Britain people who incite hatred. The Government may bring forward to this autumn a Bill to create offences of "glorifying or condoning" terrorism.

Mr Blair moved to head off criticism last night that the London attacks were a response to the Iraq war. Downing Street published a list of 31 terrorist acts linked to al-Qa'ida dating back to the World Trade Centre bombing in New York in 1993. No 10 stressed the London attacks were "part of a continuum".

The campaign to woo British Muslims was suggested when Mr Blair met the four Muslim Labour MPs at Downing Street yesterday. Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury, where one of the bombers lived, said that the attacks were a "defining moment" for the country and the Muslim community. He said: "Condemnation is not enough and British Muslims must, and I believe are prepared to, confront the voices of evil head on."

Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, said: "This is not simply an issue for the Muslim community alone but it is an issue for all of us who share this country and share with them British citizenship."