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'A country's foreign policy is never an excuse for terrorism'

September 07, 2006 20:43 IST
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David Cameron, head of the Conservative Party in Britain and Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons, has expressed his concern over the Labour Party falling apart, in an interview to the NDTV television channel.

Excerpts from an interview with NDTV.

Clearly the Labour party has lost faith in Tony Blair. How long do you think he will be PM and how do you see this playing out?

I have thought for sometime that the PM would leave office next May. Because the 10-year anniversary would be important to him, and I believe him when he says he wants to leave at the time of his own choosing.

I think the Labour Party is starting to fall apart, they are starting to fight. I don't know what role Gordon Brown has played in this, but he clearly wants the top job and is anxious for it and there seems to be a war of each against all in the Labour party.

It's bad for our country because there is so much uncertainty. We need a clear, strong decisive leadership for the future and we can't now get that from Blair and we won't get it from a divided Labour.

So I have a huge responsibility to make sure that the team I lead is ready for government and it's a responsibility I am taking extremely seriously.

One of the big concerns in India and your country is that the fallout of the recent terror scare is the racial profiling taking place or will it inadvertently take place later as a result of new security measures?

Let's deal with the big picture first. You are right, terrorism and security is a big concern in your country and back home in Britain. And I think we need what your prime minister spoke about recently in a speech that a combination of policing and security on one hand but also greater work to build more cohesive communities; to make sure we bring different people, different races and religions together.

On the issue of profiling, what I have said is that we need a combination of common sense and sensibility on this issue. Clearly all police forces, all over the world, have to have an approach to search people and what measures they take at airports.

It doesn't make much sense to say what that approach is because when you do, you will find that terrorists will find a way around it. But we should remember that some of the people who have tried to commit terrorist outrages are English rather than Asian. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber for instance, so it doesn't make sense not to have quite a broad approach.

One of big concerns since the London bombings last year has been the alienation of the Asian community especially Muslims who don't feel integrated within the British community. How do you address those concerns especially when your party talks about controlled immigration?

I think controlled immigration is popular with all communities in Britain. Not least when you discuss the issues I have with Muslim communities, British Indian communities, they all want Britain to have positive net migration but they want it to be controlled and done in a reasonable way. They know that uncontrolled immigration is not good for race and community relations.

What do you mean when you say controlled immigration?

It means that you have net migration to the UK but you make sure that the numbers coming in are manageable, you make sure there are clear and fair rules. There is an orderly queue as it were. I think one of the problems we have had with the asylum is that people have used asylums to jump the immigration queue and to jump ahead of people who might have a fairer claim.

So that's what controlled immigration is, it is something that all governments -- Labour and Conservative in the past have always supported. I think even the current Labour government is beginning to realise that there is a need for a sensible and fair control of immigration and I think Muslim communities will support that.

But let me answer your point about what we do to make sure that Muslim communities, Asian communities in Britain don't feel alienated. I think politicians like myself, like the PM, like the Indian PM, have a responsibility over and over again to say that the people who commit terrorist outrages are a minority of a minority of a minority.

The vast majority of Muslims living in Britain, Muslims living in India are peace loving, they want to be part of our country; they want to be part of a cohesive community. The small minority... are extremists and an even smaller minority of that minority believe in terror. We have to find those people, we have to stop them, and we have to prosecute them.

Where necessary, some should even be expelled from the country, they don't have a right to be there. But the vast majority of the Muslim population wants to be part of the successful Britain and I want them to be part of that successful Britain and it's up to us to try and work with them to make our communities more integrated.

The rise of extremism in Britain... why is it happening? Is it linked to foreign policy as some say it is?

I think it is important to remember in that context that 9/11 happened before the decision to invade Afghanistan, before the decision to invade Iraq. There were people then that wanted to kill as many American and British citizens.

Let's not forget that on 9/11, Muslims were also killed on those planes and in the twin towers as well. So of course people can get upset by a country's foreign policy, but that's never an excuse for terrorism.

Why are young, educated men born and brought up in Britain taking to terrorism?

I think they are being seduced by a perverted, twisted form of extreme Islamism. As I said, Islam is a religion of peace. The overwhelming majority of Muslims all across the world believe in living in peace with their neighbours, that's what the Koran teaches.

But I think the alleged plotters of the Heathrow attack, the 7/7 bombers, the people of 9/11... have taken a perverted and twisted form of Islam that seems to celebrate the idea of mass murder and suicide and actually that is the problem.

And so what we have to do, there has to be a security response about investing in our policing, security forces, making sure that we can find and prosecute more of these people; in Britain to make telephone tape evidence and other security evidence available in court.

That has to go along side working with the mainstream moderate Muslim community to help them root out the few extremists in their midst... and PM Blair has made a number of points and I am pressing them to follow through on this.

To prosecute the few preachers of hate that are twisting these younger peoples' minds; we need to have a stronger policy to expel them if they are preaching hate. These are fellow countrymen, not poor, some have been teachers. Very distressing...

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