Mosques in Britain are spreading a dangerous brand of extremism that would be outlawed in Iraq – says the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq. The "shocking indictment" came from Dr Barham Salih, who said he was appalled by the level of fundamentalism he found taking root here.
After visiting mosques in Lancashire, Dr Salih said: "I am not surprised that you British are facing so many problems with extremists after what I saw in those mosques in Blackburn. What I saw would not be allowed in Iraq – it would be illegal."
Last night his comments re-ignited the debate on terror within the UK and led to a call for a tougher approach towards mosques. Intelligence expert Professor Anthony Glees warned: "This needs to be taken very seriously but the Government is turning a blind eye to it, which I believe is a grave mistake. It should be banned. The Government has to make it clear that there are some things that are simply not negotiable. This is one of them."
It was during talks in Baghdad that Dr Salih made his shocking revelations to Shadow Culture Minister Tobias Ellwood. "I do not believe these comments can be dismissed out of hand. He went in the mosques and said literature he saw would be illegal. He was quite clear," said Mr Ellwood. He added: "Is it not time that we took a much tougher approach to what is happening in the 1,300 mosques that we have in the UK?"
Muslim leaders in Blackburn dismissed the claims as "rubbish" last night but the town has had high-level links to terror in the past and been targeted by preachers of hate.
"Mosques in Britain are filled with more hate for the West than those in Iraq. That's the alarming verdict of Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Dr Barham Salih. He was shocked by what he discovered on a visit to Blackburn – home of Justice Secretary Jack Straw. "What I saw could not be allowed in Iraq – it would be illegal, " he said.
"Muslim extremists in the UK have been able to distribute propaganda literature and videos as well as making bloodthirsty speeches. They have sent followers to al-Qaida training camps to prepare for jihad. And they inspired four Brits to become suicide bombers and kill 52 innocent people in London.
"Labour has adopted a softly, softly approach to the growth of Islamic extremism in Britain – taking years to clamp down on dangerous figures like Abu Hamza. As a result of this feeble approach – as Dr Salih found out – the extremists have gained in strength."