‘Respect brings people together’

A Muslim leader has opposed comments by Tory leader David Cameron in a speech in which he said the introduction of Sharia law would undermine British society. Speaking on the issue for the first time since the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, made his controversial comments, Mr Cameron said adopting elements of Sharia law would lead to a “legal apartheid” and “state multiculturalism”. Ishtiaq Ahmed also criticised Mr Cameron’s understanding of multiculturalism.

Mr Ahmed, of the Bradford Council of Mosques, said: “In a country where people feel free to be able to live according to their ways of life while sharing certain basic values, then I think that enables people to contribute to – and take ownership of – their community. If society respects people’s cultural identities, values and heritage, it brings people together and creates an atmosphere of co-operation and support.”

Councillor Martin Smith, Bradford Council’s executive member for community safety, said: “Mr Cameron may feel like that if he is not in day-to-day contact with the situation, but those of us in Bradford who are in day-to-day contact with the Asian community feel there is a great understanding of where the situation needs to go. It’s not possible to say multiculturalism is not working in Bradford.”

Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 27 February 2008