MacShane apologises to Muslim leaders

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Indy Politics

Denis Macshane apologised yesterday for his challenge to Muslims to choose between the "British way" and the terrorist way.

The Foreign Office minister had faced criticism for calling on Muslim leaders to condemn terrorist acts more clearly.

His planned remarks had been distributed to a meeting in his constituency in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, but he toned down the passage in the face of anger from the Muslim community.

Mr MacShane apologised in an article for his local paper The Sheffield Star, for any hurt caused. He wrote: "In that report, I acknowledged that the Muslim community were as appalled as any other at the terrible terrorist atrocity in Istanbul 10 days ago.

"I accept that I could have chosen some of my words more carefully and I apologise to anyone who felt that I suggested that British Muslims sympathise with such terrorist actions. That was certainly not my intent."

He said he welcomed the condemnation, locally and nationally, by Muslims of recent terrorist atrocities. "None of us should show sympathy, support or solidarity with the use of terrorist actions to achieve political ends," he said.

"We must all work together to end the scourge of terrorism and make sure Britain is freed from the ideologies leading to young men going off to kill themselves."

But Jahangir Akhtar, a Labour councillor in Rotheram, said the minister's "wishy-washy" words had not gone far enough to placate Muslims whose patriotism had been called into question.

He said he would talk to colleagues on the town councils and in the Muslim community over whether to take the matter further.