Foreign Office Minister Criticizes Letter from Muslims Linking Terror to UK Policy

August 12, 2006

Source: BBC News

On August 12, 2006 BBC News reported, "Foreign Office minister Kim Howells has criticised Muslim leaders for condemning British foreign policy. An open letter, signed by three Muslim MPs, three peers and 38 community groups, said the stance on the Middle East has put civilians at risk. They went on to say that UK policy has given 'ammunition to extremists.' But Mr Howells denied there was a 'rational connection' and said "no government" formulates policy based on a perceived risk from terrorists. Downing Street, meanwhile, said Tony Blair 'stands ready' to meet Muslim representatives when he returns to the UK. Mr Howells told BBC News 24 the letter's comments were 'facile.' He said: 'I have no doubt that there are many issues which incite people to loath government policies but not to strap explosives to themselves and go out and murder innocent people. 'There is no way of rationalising that. I think it is very, very dangerous when people who call themselves community leaders make some assumption that somehow that there's a rational connection between these two things.' The letter urges the prime minister to redouble his efforts to tackle terror and extremism, and change foreign policy to show the UK values the lives of civilians. MP Sadiq Khan, who signed the letter, said British foreign policy was seen by many as unfair and unjust. 'Whether we like it or not such a sense of injustice plays into the hands of extremists,' he said."