Sheffield Muslim leaders welcome Eric Pickles extremism letter

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Sheffield Muslim leaders today said they welcome calls from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to tackle extremism across Britain in the wake of terror attacks in France.

In a letter to more than 1,00 Muslim leaders, Mr Pickles called for communities to ‘demonstrate how faith in Islam can be part of British identity’.

The British Muslim council objected to the letter, saying it suggested British values and Islam are ‘inherently apart’.

Mr Pickles’ letter said: “We believe together we have an opportunity to demonstrate the true nature of British Islam today.

“There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country. We know that acts of extremism are not representative of Islam, but we need to show what is.”

Farooq Aftab, spokesman for the Sheffield branch of Muslim Community UK, said: “We welcome any attempt to curb radicalisation. Islam teaches us that we should love our country, and Muslims living in the UK should have pride.

“Collectively, society needs to look at extremism. It’s not just a Muslim issue.

“We need to look at some of the root causes of extremism. Unemployment, education, social mobility are factors which lead to young people becoming frustrated. Once that happens, they are susceptible to other people and they are vulnerable. So we have to look at the root causes.”

Imam Sheikh Mohammad Ismail, Muslim Chaplain at University of Sheffield, said: “I welcome the letter. All our mosques up and down the country have close contact with the local police and all those are responsible for the safety and security and well being of our communities.

“Mosques are doing an excellent job in this regard. It’s very important we have community coordination.”