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Sunday, May 2, 1999 Published at 18:12 GMT 19:12 UK

Blair appeals for tolerance

Mr Blair hopes the bombings will unite society

Prime Minister Tony Blair has made a plea for tolerance in the wake of the London nail bomb attacks that have left three people dead and scores injured.

He told a meeting of Sikhs in Birmingham that the Brixton, Brick Lane and Soho blasts should spur a nation free of discrimination.

The nail bomb terror
"When one section of the community is under attack, we defend them in the name of all the community," he said.

In a speech designed to reassure all minorities in the UK, Mr Blair said: "When those evil bombs attack the black community or the Asian community, they attack the whole of Britain.

"When the gay community is attacked and innocent people are murdered, all the good people of Britain, whatever their race, their lifestyle, their class unite in revulsion and determination to bring the evil people to justice."

UK 'celebrates diversity'

He went on to redefine the word patriotism as an inclusive rather than exclusive concept. "We celebrate our diversity, we recognise it brings us strength and teaches us the true patriotism, the patriotism that enriches and unites our nation rather than divides it," he said.

Tony Blair: "The racists are the true outcasts in our country today"
He called the "racists" who planted the bomb "the true outcasts of Britain today".

"But they shall not win because the great decent British majority shall not let them win."

He compared the fight against intolerance in the UK to Nato's campaign to defeat ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.

"The values we are fighting for are the same values: the right to live in freedom from fear, whatever your race or religion," he said.

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"When defenceless people are butchered by Milosevic in Kosovo, young men murdered, women violated, it is an outrage against the very values of humanity which are the world's only salvation. We must act to stop it."

The prime minister received a rapturous welcome from hundreds of Sikhs, who packed Birmingham's Symphony Hall.

He was later presented with a Kirpany, a ceremonial sword - one of the greatest honours in Sikh culture.

Delegates who heard his address welcomed his comments.

Amandeep Singh from Smethwick, West Midlands, who helped organise the event, said: "As Sikhs we don't applaud, but we shout out our appreciation. And judging by the number of calls during the speech, I would say everyone was very impressed."

He also said he was pleased that Cherie Blair had worn a blue silk Salwar Kameez, the Sikh national dress.

Man charged

During his speech, the prime minister also thanked the Metropolitan Police for their response to the bomb attacks.

Detectives have charged 22-year-old David Copeland with murder following the three bomb attacks.

Two of the three dead from Friday's Soho attack on a gay pub were a married woman and the best man at her wedding.

Andrea Dykes, 27, died immediately in the explosion at the Admiral Duncan pub, in Old Compton Street. Her best man, John Light, 32, was also killed. Husband Julian Dykes is among the injured.

On Sunday 18 people remain in hospital. Four are said to be in a critical condition.

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