Ruth Kelly, New Labour’s communities secretary, told a meeting of council leaders and police chiefs last week that she wants them to target Muslim “hotspots” – schools, universities, mosques and colleges which are supposedly centres of extremism.
This followed her recent comments that there needs to be a “fundamental rebalancing” of relationships with Muslim organisations which, she argues, are not doing enough to tackle extremism.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) wrote to Kelly to complain that there had been a “drip-feed of ministerial statements stigmatising an entire community”. Kelly responded with an open letter to the MCB suggesting that they are “passive in tackling extremism and yet expect government support”.
Rania Khan [pictured], a Respect councillor in Tower Hamlets, told Socialist Worker, “Ruth Kelly’s comments about ‘Muslim hotspots’ are ridiculous and divisive. This is the latest stage in an increasing witch-hunt of Muslims. This scapegoating by the government is increasing racism. Speaking as a Muslim, I find it frightening.
“This is not how to tackle terrorism. Talking about targeting mosques and colleges is an appalling attack on our civil liberties. Just about every report into terrorism show that it is Britain’s foreign policy that is the main cause of terrorism. The only way to solve this would be to bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.”