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Wednesday, 28 January 2015
A Tory MP claims he gets accused of being 'non-Muslim' for denouncing
MP claims he gets accused of being 'non-Muslim' for denouncing terrorists
A Conservative MP has been accused of being a "non-Muslim" for denouncing terrorists and extremists.
Rehman Chishti, who is a Muslim, told the Commons he often received emails making the claims against him after he appeared on television and labelled those behind atrocities as terrorists.
The MP for Gillingham and Rainham also called for the perpetrators of attacks to be known simply as terrorists or extremists rather than prefixing the labels with Islamist.
He warned that connecting them with Islam was what terrorists desired and gave them credibility by linking a "great religion with their evil acts".
Mr Chishti made the remarks as he led a short debate in the Commons about the UK's support for Pakistan after the Peshawar massacre.
The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), killed 150 people at an army-run school in Peshawar, including 134 children, on December 16 2014.
Mr Chishti said: "It is important to clarify one thing - the TTP, like many other terrorists, have often been described as Islamist extremist or Islamist terrorists, thereby linking them with Islam, which is what they want.
"We should be clear and refer to them and any other terrorist who wants to link that evil act to Islam simply as terrorists and extremists.
"That is it. They are terrorists, they are extremists and we should not give them the credibility of linking this great religion with their evil acts."
Tory backbencher Julian Lewis (New Forest East) suggested Mr Chishti should go one step further, telling him: "These extremists never hesitate to call other Muslims with whom they disagree un-Islamic.
"Therefore, although I see the point of your argument to say they're not Islamist, they are not Islamic, just calling them terrorists or extremists isn't quite enough - you need some context and could I suggest un-Islamic extremists as a possible denomination for them?"
Mr Chishti replied: "I take on board the point you make and I think it is very clear that everyone around the world will want to make it clear that these individuals are terrorists and extremists.
"And often when I've commented on these matters on television I often get an email to say I'm a non-Muslim myself for calling them terrorists and we do know who are the terrorists and extremists in that context."
Tory Steve Baker (Wycombe) described attacks by Islamist terrorists as a "double betrayal" as Muslims in Britain had to then defend themselves in their wake.
Intervening in Mr Chishti's speech, he said: "Would you agree with me that when people commit these atrocities in the name of Islam that they also betray catastrophically sometimes the vast majority of law abiding decent Muslims in this country who then have to defend themselves?
"Would you agree with me that it's a double betrayal?"
Mr Chishti replied: "You are absolutely right. When these individuals who carry out these evil atrocities in the name of Islam or religion they undermine the wonderful, peaceful, tolerant Muslim community around the world, in our great country."
Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood said: "Muslim communities often bear the brunt of terrorism as has been said today at the hands of people who espouse a distorted and violent interpretation of a great and peaceful religion.
"Mr Chishti was right to point out that terrorism and Islam are not the same.
"We believe our British values uphold that people of different faiths and cultures can live together in peace.
"We know that the fight against terrorism will be protracted but we know that by working together with our friends and our allies we can win."