Confront extremists, Blair tells Muslim community

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At a meeting in Downing Street today, the Prime Minister will ask the community leaders for proposals on how to tackle the rise of Islamic extremism, particularly among young Muslims.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said: "The Prime Minister has said that we have to recognise where this perversion of Islam came from and we have to recognise that all of us need to stand together and that includes the Muslim community."

He added: "The Muslim MPs who came to see him, and the Muslim leaders, have said that it is not enough just to condemn the bombings, that the Muslim community itself has to act. That is part of the reason for the meeting.

"What he was talking about was that there are extremists who have a perverse view of Islam, who tried to use that perverse view to justify events, such as the London bombings.

"His view is that the Muslim community can take the lead in confronting that. You have to harness the energies of the moderate voices of the Muslim community."

Downing Street refused to give a list of those invited to No 10 but ministers are keen to ensure that the guest list is broad enough to avoid it being dismissed by radicals as unrepresentative. Muslim MPs are also likely to attend.

Mr Blair also will meet President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at Downing Street today and John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, on Thursday. The visits, which No 10 said were agreed some weeks ago, will provide support for Mr Blair's backing for the United States in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq after being attacked by the Chatham House think-tank and Labour MPs for making Britain a target for the bombers.

Mr Blair told the Cabinet last week that people blamed "anything but faith" - including poverty, discrimination or the war on Iraq - for the bombings.

His remarks appeared to contradict Brian Paddick, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, who said in the immediate aftermath of the bombings that the words "terrorist" and "Islam" did not go together.

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