Iraq politician clarifies Blackburn mosques comments

The Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq has responded in a row over alleged extremism in Blackburn’s mosques.

An MP claimed Dr Barham Salih had told him what he saw when he visited Blackburn in 2005 would be illegal even in Iraq. But Dr Salih, in a statement which did not address exactly what he said to the MP, said his comments had been “taken out of context and misconstrued”. Dr Salih, who has lived and studied in the UK, said the “overwhelming majority” of British Muslims were law abiding and true to the tolerant spirit of Islam.

Describing his visit to Blackburn, Dr Salih, who used it to urge people not to vote against Mr Straw because of the war in Iraq, added: “I had the good fortune to visit a mosque in Blackburn three years ago and I am grateful for the gracious hospitality shown to me there. I was heartened to hear of the Imam preaching tolerance and inclusiveness.”

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 24 January 2008