Muslim extremists in Britain are the "mirror image" of the racist British National Party and are trying to prevent different races living peacefully together, David Cameron has warned.
The Tory leader said people who demand separate treatment for Muslims or the imposition of Sharia law were trying to divide British society. Accusing the BNP of preaching "pure hate," he said: "Those who seek a Sharia state or special treatment and a separate law for British Muslims are, in many ways, the mirror image of the BNP. They also want to divide people into 'us' and 'them.' And they too seek out grievances to exploit."
Today, Mr Cameron will launch a report on cohesion by a Tory policy review that says many Muslim women in Britain do not enjoy the rights and opportunities - such as work and a university education - available to Muslim men and non-Muslim women. It also says many Muslims send their children to faith schools not primarily for religious reasons but because the quality of education is better.
Speaking yesterday in Handsworth, Birmingham, where there were inner-city riots in 1985, Mr Cameron blamed politicians for many of the barriers to community cohesion. He listed the five barriers as extremism, multiculturalism, uncontrolled immigration, poverty and poor standards of education. Warning that difficult issues must not be avoided by hiding behind "a screen of cultural sensitivity", he added: "If we want to live together, we need to bring down the barriers that divide us. And today, I can feel the barriers going up, not coming down."
The Tory leader did not repeat his call in a Sunday newspaper article for a new "crusade" for fairness, after one Muslim leader complained that it had devalued his message.
In a more traditional Tory message, Mr Cameron also called for tighter controls on immigration to ease the pressure on housing and public services, which he said caused "division, fear and resentment"among Britons of all communities.