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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
Muslim Miss England attacks Blair
Hammasa Kohistani
Ms Kohistani accused the government of "stereotyping"
The country's first Muslim Miss England has accused Prime Minister Tony Blair of fuelling hostility towards Islam in the wake of the London bombings.

Hammasa Kohistani, 19, said government statements since last year's 7 July attacks had created a "negative image" of Muslims.

Ms Kohistani represented England at the Miss World finals in China in December.

A government spokesman said they were committed to working in partnership with Muslim communities.

Ms Kohistani was speaking as she returned to Uxbridge College, west London, to study for her A-levels.

"Tony Blair addressed Muslims in particular, telling them that they need to sort out the problem within," she said.

Even the more moderate Muslims have been stereotyped negatively and feel they have to take actions to prove themselves
Hammasa Kohistani

"That was a huge stereotype of the Islamic community.

"Even the more moderate Muslims have been stereotyped negatively and feel they have to take actions to prove themselves."

The prime minister told MPs in July this year that moderate Muslims were not doing enough to tackle extremists in their own community.

Ms Kohistani, whose family fled the Taleban regime in Afghanistan, said the attacks had represented "a reality slap" for those who thought Britain would never see such atrocities.

Education priority

Her own coronation as Miss England in 2005 was controversial, sparking anger from some Muslims with highly traditional beliefs about women.

After a year travelling the globe and appearing in newspapers and magazines all over the world, Ms Kohistani is resuming her studies.

She said education was now her "number one priority" and said she would be much more selective in the modelling work she takes on as she prepares for further study, with the aim of going to university.

Ms Kohistani, who speaks four languages, will be studying courses in media studies, sociology and politics. She has already passed English literature A-level.

She is also hoping to set up a charity to help educate Afghan children.

A spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government said: "We are committed to building strong, positive relationships with the Muslim community and Ruth Kelly has made clear stepping up engagement and working together is a key priority for her.

"There can never be an excuse for extremism and we totally reject any claim that we are not committed to working in partnership to tackle it."

He said that in meetings with Ministers in recent weeks Muslim organisations had acknowledged they needed to do more to tackle extremism.

Hammasa Kohistani
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