Sayeeda Warsi, who became Britain’s first Asian woman cabinet minister in the David Cameron government in 2010, has attacked its policy towards Muslims, and has alleged that the coalition views the community with suspicion.
Warsi, who resigned in August last over the government’s policy on Gaza, wrote in The Observer on Sunday that the government had a narrowly selective approach in dealing with the Muslim community, which had created a climate in which even benign correspondence becomes toxic.
Referring to the recent letter to all mosques in Britain after the Paris attacks sent by Communities secretary Eric Pickles, Warsi claimed that it appeared as if the government was ‘neither listening nor genuine in its intentions’.
“The obsessive checking of the backgrounds of those on guest lists to Eid events, the refusal to attend events where there may ‘possibly’ or ‘potentially’ be a speaker whose views we find unsavoury, even when attendance would provide the perfect opportunity to challenge those views, has created a unique approach within government over the last four years”.
“This is to view ever-increasing numbers of Muslim organisations or individual activists with suspicion and dangerously narrow engagement to a dozen people from a community of more than three million”, she wrote.
Daughter of Pakistan origin immigrants, Warsi has in the recent past said that her Conservative party had ignored the ‘electoral reality’ that non-white voters would no longer support it in the May elections.
She wrote: “In January 2011, I warned that anti-Muslim sentiment had ‘passed the dinner-table test’ and become socially acceptable. Since then we’ve seen rising levels of anti-Muslim hate crime and increasingly vitriolic Islamophobic language. Yet not a single major government speech has reflected the concerns, worries and, yes, fear within the British Muslim community”.
“So it’s no surprise there is a trust deficit, a questioning of motive to a letter sent with the best of intentions. For too many, the hand of friendship felt like an admonitory finger that was once again pointing at Britain’s Muslims”.