Britain Funding Islamic Studies at Universities

June 8, 2007

Author: Thomas Wagner

Source: Houston Chronicle

Wire Service: AP

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair this week announced $2 million in funding to back Islamic studies at British universities, urging the public to listen to the religion's moderate scholars rather than to its radicals.

Blair's government hopes the funding will lead to a major shift of the focus of Islamic studies from an Arab and Middle Eastern perspective to that of the plural society in Britain.

Blair told imams, scholars and clerics at a two-day conference in London that British Muslims "overwhelmingly" wanted to be "loyal citizens," despite attention given to a small number of radicals.

"Around the world today there is a new and urgent impetus being given to promulgating the true voices of Islam," Blair said.

He urged clerics at the conference to explain Islam to the world and place it in its broader context, how it has roots in Judaism and Christianity, and how it has developed. Blair urged them to explain "how far removed it is in truth from the crude and warped distortion of the extremists."