Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has intervened in the government row that threatens to disbar Muslims from serving as trustees or governors of new academies and free schools. He also said the reporting and comments by the Government may have led to an increase in Islamophobia.
Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi welcoming the intervention by Clegg said, “The Muslim community is feeling under siege and feel the politicians and media attack is pure and simple Islamophobia and pandering to right wing voters. Muslims being treated as second class citizens only seems to worsen.”
Challenging claims that Muslims and British values are incompatible, Clegg said that there is “absolutely no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the UK are patriotic citizens who hold values that entirely accord with the traditions and values of our nation.”
“For generations many British Muslims have helped protect, defend and enhance these values through their voluntary, civic and military service to our country.”
The Deputy Prime Minister challenged the dispute between Education Secretary Michael Gove and Home Secretary Theresa May over who can be toughest on Muslim “extremism” in their battle to replace Prime Minister David Cameron as the next Tory leader.
“It would be fundamentally wrong for British citizens who hold the Islamic faith to be held to a different, or indeed, higher standard from other citizens.” Clegg said.
“ Being Muslim does not contradict being British, nor is it in tension with it. A person can uphold their religious and cultural identity as well as British identity,” he warned.
In a letter to the Muslim Council of Britain, the deputy prime minister expressed concerns that some of the recent reporting in the government campaign against Birmingham schools may have led to an increase in Islamophobia. “If this is the case clearly it is deeply regrettable,” he said.