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Sayeeda Warsi: The Sun, Egg-throwing extremists shame ‘proper’ Muslims

Writing exclusively in The Sun.

To me, Britain’s strength is the freedom it offers, its steadfast commitment to tolerance, respect for the individual and democracy.

Free speech underpins those values and even though we may not agree with what is being said, we support an individual’s right to debate.

But extremists like the ones who pelted me with eggs and screamed abuse at me on Monday fundamentally abuse these freedoms.

They taunted me on my party’s support for the war in Afghanistan. Yet, when challenged to debate the issue, they shied away.

Among the rabble were members of al-Muhajiroun, a group which is closely linked to Islam4UK.

They want nothing more than to separate British Muslims from the rest of society and as a nation we must never let that happen. They are beyond the pale.

As a nation, throughout our history, we have had to deal with extremism in all its guises, especially groups that promote hatred and violence.

We can’t let extremists roam the streets of Luton and other towns propagating their vile views.

British Muslims overwhelmingly reject and abhor them, especially for their vile tirades against our country and against our fellow citizens of all faiths.

Groups like these pose the biggest threat to community harmony today.

We need to be a lot more robust and a lot less tolerant of their dangerous views. This is no time for cultural sensitivities.

I wonder why the Government has not thought about banning this group?

There has been a positive outcome from Monday’s incident. It is in the number of messages of support I have received from British people across all communities.

When the extremist claimed I wasn’t a “proper” Muslim, a young hijab-wearing Muslim woman hit back.

She said the first thing she learnt about Islam “was how it revered and respected women” and she couldn’t understand “how these men could consider themselves a part of the Islamic faith after the despicable way they have behaved.”

I couldn’t have put it better myself.

So for me, it is just another proof of the need for a new culture of responsibility in our country, in which we all, whatever our background, have a role to play.

We must never lose sight of the ties that bind us all together. We must cling to our principles and continue to be, what we always were: One Nation.

At the end of the day, I am a criminal defence lawyer from Yorkshire. It is going to take a bit more than a few eggs to stop me.

This article appeared in The Sun on 2nd December 2009

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