October 24, 2010 (KATAKAMI / HINDUSTAN TIMES) — British Premier David Cameron has banned Conservative party Chair, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, from attending a major Islamic meet where a number of pro-al-Qaeda speakers are also due to appear, igniting a bitter internal row over how the government tackles Islamist extremism.
The London-based conference is aimed at improving community relations, yet critics have pointed out that a number of speakers who are due to appear have justified suicide attacks and promoted al-Qaeda, homophobia and terrorism.
An influential voice among the international Muslim community, Warsi believes that confronting extremists at public events is a more effective way to tackle fundamentalism than a refusal to engage with them.
The report quoted a government source saying “She had hoped to attend, but there is a conflict of opinion on how extremists should be dealt with and the Prime Minister, supported by Home Secretary Theresa May, were adamant no Tories should attend.”
According to the report, Andrew Stunell, the Liberal Democrat Communities Minister, will deliver an aggressive speech against those who espouse fundamentalism.
“He will make clear that the coalition government will not tolerate extremism, hatred and intolerance in any form,” a spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, said.
The conference has been organised by Britain’s most popular Muslim television station, the Islam Channel, which earlier this year was accused by a Muslim think-tank, the Quilliam foundation, of promoting extremist groups.