In a frank and open exchange with Muslims, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi has spoken, amongst other things about the government’s anti-extremism policy, targeted profiling of Muslims at airports and leadership within the community.

Baroness Warsi was speaking at a special integration ‘roadshow’ hosted by the Lancashire Council of Mosques.

The Faith Minister was in Blackburn to discuss the Government's approach to integration and what it is doing to help tackle anti-Muslim hatred.
Whilst some may have suggested this was some sort of charm offensive by the government, Warsi was unusually blunt and did not shy away from tackling some of the most pressing concerns.

Members of the audience asked some testing questions about how the Government itself was indirectly helping to demonise Muslims.
Something she was all too aware of in the opening exchanges, “Some people say to me I like what you say but I don’t like how you dress.”
She was keen to stress that the event was non-political and spoke only for several minutes before opening up the floor to questions.

The discussion quickly turned to irresponsible comments made her own party member, Boris Johnson when he suggested Muslim children who risk being radicalised by their parents should be taken into care as victims of child abuse.

The Baroness said, “Political parties are made up of a range of people. You cannot control every single message that is coming of their mouths. There are people in my party who do not agree with what I say.”
She spoke of her battles with her own party members and that things may not be quite as black as white as many people believe when it came to issues such extremism and British Foreign Policy.

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“If you actually look around Europe Britain is the best place to live in if you are Muslim.”


There was strong words concerning the Preventing Violent Extremism programme. And how the government was ‘cosying-up’ to certain Muslim groups. None more so than the ‘Quilliam foundation.’
This, the Baroness flatly denied and said she had realised that British Muslims do not have one voice. She also stated that the government was not funding the Quilliam Foundation and had not done so since 2010.
“I have found that British Muslims are made up of so many different groups. The time when we could say we are only speaking of this set of people and that set of people has gone.”

On the issue of foreign policy she did not hide from the facts that Britain had particular foreign interests.

“Foreign policy acts in Britain’s interest. But what people do not realise is that there is never a black and white answer.
“We need to move away from conspiracy theories.”
She used the example of Syria. “With regards to Syria we have had one set of Muslim groups asking us to intervene and others stating do not.”
The Baroness seemed to make efforts to speak out for the Muslim cause at times and did not feel obliged to give a ‘political answer.'
She was asked about why officers had been questioning charity workers going to Syria.
She answered: “Syria is a dangerous place.
“Do not go to Syria because if anything happens to you then we cannot help you. There are people who are using the cover of humanitarian aid to fight.”
At times the discussion did focus a lot on what the government and the media was doing to perpetuate specific myths about Muslims and not what Muslims themselves should be doing to assist integration in the wider community.


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“Do not go to Syria because if anything happens to you then we cannot help you"

In particular there was little focus on what Mosques themselves were doing to promote integration.
When asked about random airport searches targeting Muslims she spoke of her own experiences.
“I get randomly searched at an airport. My husband who travels to the US regularly also gets stopped.
“I’m not saying it's always right but this is the reality we are living in.”
However, she did praise how Muslims had reacted post-Woolwich. And how Britain remained the best place to live in if you were a Muslim, with regards to recent debates in some nations over Halal food and the choice of wearing the full veil.
She spoke of how her visits to other nations, even Muslim ones where she was asked how British Muslims are able to have so much freedom.
“If you actually look around Europe Britain is the best place to live in if you are Muslim.”
“Post Woolwich there was a more confident Muslim community. Muslims themselves took the lead and stated that this was not in their name.”