Op/ed: "Why Muslims Must Rise Up Now and Battle Extremism"

August 15, 2006

Source: The Times


On August 15, 2006 The Times published an opinion piece by Shahid Malik, Labour MP for Dewsbury, "On Friday last week I agreed to add my name to a letter to the Government from Oxfam, other non-governmental organisations and individuals to express, in the wake of the Middle East crisis, our commitment to the fundamental humanitarian principle that all innocent lives should be valued equally. As has been made apparent to me over the past few days, the letter was open to several interpretations. It has never been my contention that the Government ought to change foreign policy because of terrorist threats within our borders. We must never be held to ransom by those who would deliberately shed innocent blood in the name of their cause. I firmly believe that justice, righteousness and national interest should be our policy compass. So when ministers such as Kim Howells and Douglas Alexander argue that 'no government worth its salt would allow any policy to be dictated by threats of terror,' we are at one. I doubt if many would question my commitment to fighting terrorism. I have vociferously argued, ever since it was revealed that the leader of the 7/7 bombers was my constituent, that no policy, domestic or foreign, can ever justify or excuse British-born Muslims strapping on suicide belts... While being tough on terrorists, however, the Government should be flexible enough to listen to those who have genuine policy concerns. Today I, along with other Muslim MPs, will discuss with John Prescott some of the challenges ahead. The Prime Minister has also indicated that he is willing to meet those with concerns. This is the way forward. Any British Muslims who are in disagreement with foreign policy must follow the path of others by exercising their right as citizens to influence policy through the established route: that is, by engaging in the political process."