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Rediff.com  » News » We are today's Jews, says Britain's first Muslim minister

We are today's Jews, says Britain's first Muslim minister

July 04, 2008 13:16 IST

Ahead of the third anniversary of the London bombings on July 7, Shahid Malik, Britain's first Muslim minister, has said many Muslims today feel like they are the 'Jews of Europe.

Malik, who was appointed minister in the department for international development last summer by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said many Muslims today feel like they are aliens in their own country. He, however, made it clear that that he was not likening the prevailing situation to the Holocaust, reports The Independent, London.

Malik made these comments in a television interview to be aired on Monday.

'Most people today will agree that if you ask Muslims what they feel like, they feel like Jews of Europe,' Malik says in the interview, 'In the way it was almost legitimate to target Jews.'

'There's a message that it's OK to target people so long as it's Muslims. You don't have to worry about the facts, people will turn a blind eye.'

Meanwhile, England's Lord Chief Justice, Lord Philips of Worth Matravers, has lent his support to the archbishop of Canterbury's suggestion that some aspects of the Shariat, the Muslim personal law, should be adopted in Britain.

Rowan Williams, the archbishop, had faced calls for his resignation when he aired his views earlier this year.

Lord Philips has now said that Muslims in Britain should be allowed to use their personal law to decide financial and marital disputes, reports The Times, London. The judge is reported to have stated that only criminal courts should have the power to decide when a crime has been committed and when to impose punishment.

In a speech, Lord Philips said, 'There is no reason why principles of the Shariat, or any other religious code, should not be the basis for mediation or other forms of alternative dispute redressal.'

He added that part of the 'misconception about the Shariat is the belief that it is only about mandating sanctions such as flogging, stoning, cutting off of hands or death for those who fail to comply with the law'.

Expressing support for Williams, Lord Philips said the archbishop was merely saying that it was 'possible for individuals voluntarily to conduct their lives in accordance with the Shariat without this being in conflict with the rights' granted by English law.

English law already allows some communities – like orthodox Jews – to use their religious codes to settle disputes.

Interestingly, however, Khalid Mahmood, the Labour member of Parliament, disagreed with Lord Philips's contention. 'It is highly retrograde,' he said, 'and will alienate the Muslims from other communities.'

'The majority of British Muslims want to live under British law and will reject anything that means they are being treated differently,' he said.

The Rediff News Bureau