SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Baroness Warsi, the ex-Foreign Office minister and first female Muslim member of the Cabinet, writing in the Observer, spoke about a letter written to leaders of 1,000 mosques and organisations by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, in which he urged them to do more to root out extremism in the wake of the Paris events.
The letter claimed that leaders of mosques, schools and Muslim charities had “more work to do” and they should reply to the letter with an outline of what they are doing to “promote the positive image of British Islam.”
Baroness Warsi said there had been almost six years of non-engagement, both by the previous Labour Government and now the Coalition. Prime Minister David Cameron had said that anyone who has a problem with Mr Pickles’ letter “really has a problem.”
Baroness Warsi wrote: “So while I welcome Eric’s attempt to reach out, the reality is that if you haven’t cultivated a friendship, if you haven’t fostered trust, then the chances of success are limited.
“A letter out of the blue to a mosque that is potentially affiliated to an organisation like the Muslim Council of Britain – with whom the government has refused to engage, creates a climate where even the most benign of correspondence can become toxic.”
She wrote: “So it’s no surprise there is a trust deficit, a questioning of motive to a letter sent with the best of intentions. For too many, the hand of friendship felt like an admonitory finger that was once again pointing at Britain’s Muslims.”