Press release on the need to understand the Muslim world and to condemn islamism

This was carried on Associated Press Pakistan news agency.

MP Urges Greater Understanding of Pakistan and Muslim Issues

25 September 2009

By Fawad Hashmey

LONDON, Sept 25 (APP): A British member of Parliament has urged the Western media for a greater understanding of Pakistan’s difficult internal politics and said it was the extremist ideology of militant Islamism that was responsible for much Islam phobia not the nation and people of Pakistan.

Denis Macshane, who represents Rotherham, north east England, in the Parliament, also called on the broadcasters and newspapers in Britain and Europe to make more effort to understand the religion of Islam.

The MP, a former Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is an outspoken defender of Kashmiri issues in the British politics.

Macshane told delegates in Berlin at a conference on Muslims and the Media in Europe Thursday that his many thousand Muslim constituents in South Yorkshire were tolerant and peace-loving men and women who simply wanted respect for their religion and the right to lead a decent family life.

He also urged editors in Germany and France as well as Britain to reach out to the broader Muslim community rather than rely on self-appointed spokesmen.

"It is quite wrong to brand Muslims because a number of ultra-ideological fanatics chose to invoke their faith to do bad things. It is like condemning Catholics for what the IRA did when it killed innocent people or blaming Nazism on the German people. We need to separate Islam the religion from Islamism the ideology which in its most violent and extreme form is destructive.

"That is why I welcome the lead British newspapers and television have taken in employing Muslims as journalists and broadcasters. They work as good journalists and TV presenters not on account of their religious background but it is important their contribution is acknowledged," said MacShane.

Thirty years ago the senior Labour MP was the youngest-ever President of the National Union of Journalists. Then he wrote a pamphlet for the NUJ criticising media coverage on race issues and calling for more journalists to be recruited from Muslim and BME backgrounds.

"We have come a long way since then but more needs to be done. There is a great deal of xenophobia, dislike of Europeans, Islam phobia and anti-Semitism in politics and on the web. I am concerned at the anti-Pakistan tone of much reporting in the West. Pakistan for all its problems has an independent press and independent lawyers as well as competing political parties that defeat the fundamentalist Islamists in open elections."

He urged more journalists to visit Pakistan and see that it is ideological extremism not the people or the politicians of Pakistan who want to support jihadi murders.

"Pakistan needs more trade, more jobs and more support from Britain and EU especially on asking India to contribute to a solution of the Kashmir problem," MacShane added.