Britain faces a war with Islamic terrorists for at least a generation
In some of the bluntest language used by a member of the Government to give warning of the terrorist threat, Phil Woolas said that the answer was to attack the ideology of terror.
Mr Woolas, the Minister for Community Cohesion, said at a meeting of representatives from a variety of faiths, including Islam, that the Government’s goal was to defeat terrorism. He said: “We see this as a perpetual fight. This is a generational thing. We are determined to protect civil liberties, but we can’t solve it on our own.”
He rejected criticism that the Government had ignored the work of a taskforce of community leaders, academics and imams set up in response to the July 7 suicide bomb attacks in London last year.
Critics accused ministers of implementing some of the easiest recommendations, such as backing “roadshows” by moderate Islamic scholars to counter extremist ideology, but rejected more controversial demands, such as a public inquiry into the bombings.
Mr Woolas told his audience in Bolton that to attack the Government was to miss the point. He said: “The Government is very clear that the vast majority of Muslims want to defeat this terrorism.
“Don’t allow yourself to be used by the terrorists, don’t believe that the Government doesn’t understand your fear; but the solution is to defeat terrorism.”
The meeting was the first in a series as ministers try to rebuild relations with Muslim communities after police investigating an alleged plot to blow up aircraft arrested 24 people in East London, High Wycombe and Birmingham.
Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Communities, will announce tomorrow that a body has been set up to promote better race and community relations in England.
She will name the dozen commissioners who will form the Commission on Integration and Cohesion, which will be chaired by Darra Singh, the chief executive of Ealing council.
Combating terror 'to take years'