Isolate the extremists,Straw tells Muslims

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Indy Politics

Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, has urged mainstream British Muslims to isolate extremists by speaking in support of the anti-terrorism campaign.

In a speech to an Islamic centre in Oxford last night, he said: "Some Muslim leaders in Britain, and international figures like President Musharraf in Pakistan, took an honourable and courageous stand.

"But not everyone in the Islamic world shared their view. For many, outrage, or perhaps more commonly plain unease, were the prevailing reactions to the international coalition's military campaign against al-Qa'ida and their protectors in the Taliban regime.

"Some in positions of respect and authority in their communities were all too ready to play on this unease, and to stoke up extremist feeling."

But Mr Straw said the establishment of a multi-ethnic government to replace the Taliban should have erased doubts about Western intentions.

"I know ... that many mainstream Muslims can feel awkward about speaking out," he said. "But it is important to avoid giving the impression of monolithic Muslim support for extremism." Mr Straw, who has 25,000 Muslims in his Blackburn constituency, said: "We have nothing to fear from allowing Islam to exercise a positive, civilising influence on Britain today."