Muslims call for special bank holidays in Britain
Muslim leaders summoned to talks with the Government on tackling extremism in their midst called for public holidays to mark their religious festivals.
The Whitehall meeting was set up in response to last week's airline bomb plot discovery.
Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly had prepared an uncompromising message on the need to tackle dangerous radicalism.
But, in what she admitted were 'sharp' exchanges, some senior Muslim figures turned the tables yesterday and made a series of demands which also included the introduction of Sharia law for family matters.
Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland, said: 'We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.'
Dr Pasha said Miss Kelly had agreed to look at the proposals, though her spokesman insisted later that she did not favour any legal change which would give 'special treatment' for the Muslim community.
Some of the 30 moderate Muslim leaders at the meeting told Miss Kelly that important days in their two main religious festivals - Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha - should be made public holidays for followers of the faith.
Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, should also be introduced in Britain, they argued. While it specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes, Dr Pasha said he wanted it only for family affairs.
Under the law, a husband pays his wife a dowry on marriage, and money and assets are shared out between family members in specified amounts after someone dies.
'We are willing to co-operate but there should be a partnership,' Dr Pasha said.
'They should understand our problems then we will understand their problems.'
A recent poll suggested that a third of British Muslims would rather live under Sharia law, while a similar number said they also hope Britain will one day become an Islamic state.
Once again the Muslims in Britain show themselves to be out of touch with the real world.
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