Letter: Religious symbolism under attack on both sides of the Channel

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The Independent Online
Sir: Despite problems faced by Muslims in Britain, I count myself fortunate that I am not a Muslim in France. The values of tolerance and respect for others' beliefs - values that are growing stronger in British society - are now under attack in France from the extremes of secular fundamentalism.

It is worrying that a small but vocal minority in this country would also threaten these values. Conor Cruise O'Brien ('A French lesson for Muslims', 10 December) is clearly uncomfortable with British attitudes and inclines towards the intolerance of the French authorities in the matter of two small French girls who wished to uphold their religious beliefs.

More enlightened readers will recognise as untrue the picture he paints of Islam and Muslims. And those who cherish the freedom to follow a religion or to follow no religion will recoil at his suggestion that the full force of the state should fall upon those who wish to exercise such freedoms.

Thankfully, the great majority of British people are content to live in peace with one another, respecting each other's beliefs. I only hope that the extreme views of Conor Cruise O'Brien and others will find no home in British society. I suggest that those who are like-minded should emigrate to, say, France.

Yours faithfully,

MUHAMMAD USAMAH

London, E1

10 December

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