The prime minister says British Muslims should do more to fight extremism, after a U.K. family is suspected to have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State group.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has faced criticism after claims that U.K. Muslims "quietly condone" the Islamic State group.
At a security conference Friday in Slovakia, Cameron said British Muslims should do more to fight extremism.
The prime minister’s remarks were criticized by former Cabinet Minister Lady Warsi, who says the government has failed to engage with communities.
Muslims across the UK are fighting the ISIS ideology in their communities; in mosques, community centres, sports groups, study circles ..1/3— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 19, 2015
Its the children of British Muslims that ISIS r targeting 2recruit, Its why British Muslims r fighting this evil in forums across the UK 2/2— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 19, 2015
If Govt was engaged with British Muslim communities it would know how muslim communities across the UK are fighting ISIS ideology 3/3— Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) June 19, 2015
Cameron said Muslim communities and internet service providers should stop perpetuating the extremist ideology.
"The cause is ideological,” he said. “It is an Islamist extremist ideology, one that says the West is bad, that democracy is wrong, that women are inferior, that homosexuality is evil.”
He added one of the reasons people arrived at this worldview is some members of the Muslim community “buy into some of these prejudices.”
Cameron pointed the finger at Muslim communities, even though many organizations around the country have condemned terrorism. The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents more than 500 organizations, opposed the Islamic State group as early as August, 2014.
Referring to the Islamic State group by the acronym ISIS, the Muslim Council of Britain said in a statement, “ISIS does not speak for Islam, and has been repudiated by all Muslims.”
The statement continued, “Their message only appeals to those who are easily duped by their twisted message purporting to be Islam. They seek to glamorise their violence, and unfortunately, the media has a part to play in adding to that glamour.”
One lawmaker from the opposition Labour party, Yasmin Qureshi, also criticized Cameron’s comments, saying it was “not only unhelpful but actually wrong” to make the comparison he had.
She said all Muslims should not be blamed or made to apologize for the actions of extremists.
"It feels absolutely awful. In Charleston you had a white man who went and killed nine black people in a church. I don't hear anybody saying that the whole of the white population has to apologize for the action of one white man," she said.
Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said there were shortcomings in Muslim civil society, but only as many as in wider society.
“But to suggest that Muslim communities have led young people to extremism or gives credence to extremist ideology is erroneous, wrong and counterproductive,” he said. “It has been suggested that Muslims are not doing enough and somehow condone extremism. We would argue that clear evidence should be presented and wrongdoing challenged, rather than perpetuate insinuation persistently.”
Terrorism blights all our lives, not least Muslims. We all feel pain of parents whose loved-ones have suddenly joined cult Daesh, or ISIL.— Dr Shuja Shafi (@drshujashafi) June 19, 2015
Cameron’s speech comes two days after he sent a video message to British Muslims to mark the beginning of the Ramadan. He drew a parallel between Muslim values and British values and talked of “one nation.”
Cameron’s comments Friday were framed around the death of Talha Asmal, who became the youngest Briton to leave the U.K. and fight for the Islamic State group.