Prime Minister #David Cameron
has defended a letter sent out to over 1,000 Muslim leaders in the UK asking them to explain how Islam "can be part of British identity". The Muslim Council of Britain was quick to attack the letter for its phrasing, claiming that appeared to suggest, that Muslims were apart from British culture. The letter, written by Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles and signed by Lord Ahmad was sent to the leaders in the hope that they could influence their community in a positive manner.
He wrote: "You, as faith leaders, are in a unique position in our #Society
. You have a precious opportunity, and an important responsibility, in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity. […] 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."
The Prime Minister has defined the letter as 'reasonable, sensible and moderate' and believes it was 'absolutely right' to send a letter urging leaders to tackle extremism. Lord Ahmad expressed his disappointment at the reaction of the Muslim leaders, explaining that he felt they had 'missed the point'. However, Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks expressed his understanding for the position taken by the Muslim Council of Britain. While he believed the letter to be "well-intentioned", he understood the frustration for being asked to deal with something that is beyond their control.