British MP: UK Muslims feel like 'the Jews of Europe'

Labor MP Shahid Malik, Britain's first Muslim government minister, made the statement in an interview with to be broadcast on Monday on the UK's Channel 4.

Addressing the issue of anti-Islamic prejudice in the UK, a British government minister has said that the growing culture of hostility has led many Muslims to say they feel targeted like "the Jews of Europe." Labor MP Shahid Malik, Britain's first Muslim government minister, made the statement in an interview with to be broadcast on Monday on the UK's Channel 4, to coincide with the third anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 people. Malik, appointed minister for international development by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year, said it has somehow become legitimate to target Muslims in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority. "Somehow there's a message out there that it is OK to target people as long as it's Muslims, and you don't have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye," he told the Dispatches program. Malik made clear that he was not equating the position with the Holocaust. "I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe," he said. "I don't mean to equate that with the Holocaust, but in the way that it was legitimate almost - and still is in some parts - to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way." The Channel 4 documentary, entitled "It Shouldn't Happen to a Muslim," will look at claims that negative attitudes to Muslims have become legitimated by think-tanks and the media who use language now being used by the far right. He said that many British Muslims now felt like "aliens in their own country" and that he himself had been the target of racist incidents. The MP said he regularly receives anti-Muslim hate mail at his constituency office in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, which was home to Mohammad Sidique Khan, the leader of the 7/7 suicide bombers. To show how Muslims were being targeted, Malik used an example of a newspaper story that ran in the British press last December claiming that staff in a Dewsbury hospital had been ordered to turn the beds of Muslim patients towards Mecca five times a day. "It's almost as if you don't have to check your facts when it comes to certain people, and you can just run with those stories," he said. "It makes Muslims feel like aliens in their own country. At a time when we want to engage with Muslims, actually the opposite happens." A poll accompanying the program found that 51 percent of Britons blame Islam to some degree for the 7/7 attacks while more than a quarter of Muslims now believe Islamic values are not compatible with British ones. Eight out of 10 said they felt a marked increase in hostility toward their faith since the 2005 bombings, while 90% of Muslims said they still felt attached to Britain. Former Metropolitan Police head of counter terrorism, Andy Hayman, who was Britain's most senior anti-terrorism officer until he resigned last December, is asked on the program why it is important to engage with Muslims who express extreme views. "Because we're tackling head-on the people that we feel are at the heartbeat of this whole complex agenda," he said. "Not to have a dialogue with them would seem that we are apprehensive, we're scared, we're frightened... So even if it's appeasement in some quarters, that is still a conversation that is not being had and needs to be had." Simon Woolley, a member of the government's task force tackling race inequality, concurred, saying: "On an almost daily basis, there is rampant Islamophobia in this country, the effect of which is not for our Muslim community to get closer to a sense of Britishness but to feel further away from a feeling of belonging in British society."