Nigel Farage has hit out at sharia courts, female genital mutilation and sexual grooming gangs following the Paris terror attacks, suggesting they are further evidence that some Muslims are failing to fit in with the UK’s “Judeo-Christian culture”.
He made the comments after previously saying there were “no-go areas” for non-Muslims in France and ghettos of immigrants from which the police had withdrawn in the UK. The Ukip leader has been accused by some of his rivals of trying to exploit the Paris attacks, carried out by Islamist extremists, to make a political argument against multiculturalism.
In an interview from Strasbourg with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday, Farage claimed there were 80 sharia courts operating in the UK. He also highlighted the issue of FGM, which is carried out by some Muslim communities but is not exclusively linked to one faith nor required by Islam, and the sexual grooming of girls in parts of South Yorkshire by men mainly of Pakistani heritage.
“I’ve got no problem with different religions and different groups having their own private observance, but the law should be the law,” he said.
“And I think we’ve seen two very glaring examples of where this has gone horribly wrong. The first is – I know it’s early in the morning – but female genital mutilation, where there have been tens of thousands of cases of this in the United Kingdom and there’s not yet been a single prosecution.
“What we’ve seen, particularly in Rotherham and in parts of Rochdale, and Denis MacShane [former Labour MP for Rotherham] in his book on the issue was perfectly clear that the politically correct view was not to look too closely for fear of causing offence, and it’s that culture that we’ve got to reverse.”
He clarified that he had not suggested there were any no-go areas in Britain but argued there needed to be more “interculturalism” rather than “multiculturalism”.
“There is some evidence that within some parts of the Muslim community that is not happening and there are some small sections of that community who are becoming ever further away from what we would call the Judeo-Christian culture of the United Kingdom and that is the problem.
“And I do think we need to be honest and open about this and to say we’ve made some terrible mistakes in the past and to make things better, we must recognise first what we’ve got wrong.”
Farage was criticised last week by politicians from across the spectrum, including David Cameron, for appearing to try to make political capital out of the terror attacks. Dame Tessa Jowell, the Labour former cabinet minister, said the comments were “sickening” because the attacks were caused by criminals and not immigration.
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat MP and party spokesman for foreign affairs, said: “Nigel Farage’s politics of blame has no place in modern, diverse and tolerant Britain. Using these horrific attacks to stir fear and division between people of different faiths is simply playing into the hands of those responsible.”
Millions of copies of Charlie Hebdo magazine have been printed with a picture of the prophet Muhammad on the front, after the shooting of 10 staff and two police at the French satirical magazine and four further murders at a kosher supermarket.
Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, said he thought Muslims in the UK would not be queuing up to buy the magazine but would not protest or react violently. “What you’re seeing is second, third, fourth generations of British Muslims, who were born and raised here, who went to school with non-Muslims, some of their best mates are non-Muslims, they often break bread with non-Muslims, they work with and often work for non-Muslims, they have different attitudes towards mocking, towards satire than those who are first generations,” he said.
“Of course some people will feel offended, hurt, upset about cartoons that they find offensive and upsetting. It’s one thing to be upset, it’s another thing to then translate that upsetness into criminality,” he told the BBC.
“There’s nothing unusual about us being upset about satire or about somebody making fun of your religion. The step from that to inciting hatred, getting involved in criminality, being any less a good neighbour is the concern.”
He called on fellow Muslims to speak out against the actions of the gunmen to stop the vacuum being filled with “charismatic preachers of hate”.
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