MP defends Muslims after Thatcher attack

Keith Vaz has defended British Muslims after Baroness Thatcher said she had not heard enough condemnation of the US terror attacks from Islamic priests.

In the emergency Commons debate on terrorism, the former Foreign Office minister spoke of the enormous contribution British Muslims had made to the country.

Lady Thatcher made her remarks in an interview with The Times.

Mr Vaz said: "I don't know what she has been reading or what programmes she has been listening to but the only representations and comments that I have heard from the British Muslim community and the Asian community in Britain are words of condemnation for what has happened in New York and strong and total support for the actions being taken by the Prime Minister."

Mr Vaz said he emigrated to Britain at the aged of nine.

"I don't think we would have imagined then, 31 years ago, that someday someone called Hussein would be captain of the England cricket team. Maybe even in 31 years time someone called Patel may edit the Daily Telegraph."

Giving his support to legislation to tackle religious hatred, Mr Vaz said it was important not to just "visit mosques" at a time of crisis.

He said: "This dialogue, which Members of this House have every single day with members of their constituency who happen to be of Asian origin, is an extremely important dialogue and they feel themselves to be part of the mainstream in supporting the British Government."