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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Tory urges talks with extremists
Sayeeda Warsi
Ms Warsi says Mr Blair needs to consider the Iraq factor
Tony Blair needs to consider holding talks with Islamic extremists in the wake of the London bombings, the Conservatives' Muslim vice-chair says.

Sayeeda Warsi says Mr Blair should follow the example of ministers' engagement with IRA representatives.

Ms Warsi joined Tory leader Michael Howard at a meeting with Mr Blair and Muslim leaders in Downing Street.

Speaking outside No 10 she said the government was "in denial" about the causes of the bombings on 7 July.


Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy and other MPs also attended the talks to discuss how to respond to the London bombings.

Mr Blair was asking how young Britons became suicide bombers and offering support to leaders who expose problems in their communities.

When you say this is something that the Muslim community needs to weed out, or deal with, that is a very dangerous step to take
Sayeeda Warsi
Tory vice chairman

He says this type of "evil within the Muslim community" can only be "defeated by the community itself".

But Ms Warsi, who lives in Dewsbury, near to the family of Mohammad Sidique Khan - thought to be the Edgware Road bomber - says that is a policy doomed to failure.

"I live round the corner from the mother-in-law of the alleged bomber in Dewsbury - I have known the family most of my life - and that's why I am worried about Blair's stance," she told the BBC News website.

'Difficult to detect'

"I would never have known this particular individual had any links to these atrocities, so when you say this is something that the Muslim community needs to weed out, or deal with, that is a very dangerous step to take.

"It is the role of the police and the security services to deal with the security of this country.

"What they will get is complete cooperation and support from the Muslim community, but it must be security services and police led.

"If they say the Muslim community must deal with it, I think they will fail in that, not through a lack of commitment or desire, but because these people are so difficult to detect.

"If you are going to commit such an atrocity, you are not going to go round telling people what you are doing.

"These young men lead very normal lives - they have families, children, jobs and they are educated, so I think it is a very hard task."


Instead Ms Warsi, 34, who failed to win the Dewsbury seat from Labour at the general election, says Mr Blair should consider talking to the very people he believes are linked to the London bombings.

"We must start engaging with, not agreeing with, the radical groups who we have said in the past are complete nutters," she said.

"We need to bring these groups into the fold of the democratic process. As long as we exclude them and don't hear them out, we will allow them to continue their hate.

"It may not achieve results immediately, but it may stop the immediate violence."

Ms Warsi says talks with representatives of Sinn Fein/IRA helped stem the violence in Northern Ireland.


"And what we have seen so recently in Kashmir is when the two sides [India and Pakistan] engage in dialogue, the level of violence decreases," she said.

Ms Warsi says she hopes the government will engage with Muslims from all ethnic groups and sects, and encourage a basic level of training for Imams in mosques.

"We must deal with the disenfranchised youth, the men, in our community. We must do that by regulating what is being taught and who it is being taught by and that will include potential immigration controls on Imams and speakers from outside Britain."

However, she later added that she would not sit down with terrorists themselves.

Ms Warsi says while there is "no linkage per se" between the Iraq war and the London bombings, there were many issues, like the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Graib jail and the background of Guantanamo Bay that were happening at the same time.

"Although the government may not accept that these were the causes for 7 July, to go into denial mode is not the way forward. We must have a constructive debate," she said.

She added: "When you have got Chatham House saying Iraq was a contributing factor we have to be brave enough to say, hey, maybe it did have a contributing factor."

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