MOSCOW (Sputnik) — More than 120 British Muslim activists released a public statement Wednesday accusing the UK government of "criminalizing" Islam and portraying Muslims as a threat.
"Muslim community rejects the state's criminalisation of Islam and condemns moves to silence legitimate critique and dissent… We reject the portrayal of Muslims and the Muslim community as a security threat," the letter signed by 128 activists, including imams, humanitarian activists, journalists and scholars said.
The signatories stated that UK politicians are exploiting the "Muslim issue," including the public concerns regarding security and immigration, to gain more political capital and distract the public attention from problems in the economy and health service as the general elections approach.
The activists also said that the expedient use of "politically charged" worlds such as "radicalization" and "extremism" and labelling "normative Islamic opinions" as "extremist" impedes political dialogue in the country and serves as an excuse to silence speakers.
"It is time that politicians stop diverting the attention of the British public away from its domestic crises and disastrous foreign policies by repeatedly playing the 'Muslim' or 'national security' card," the letter concluded.
Britain stepped up security measure following the activization of Islamic State (ISIL) Sunni extremist group propaganda in Europe. According to UK intelligence estimates, at least 600 UK citizens have joined ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
On Sunday, The Telegraph reported citing a leaked draft of the Home Office's new counter-terrorism strategy, that the UK government is planning to introduce a number of steps to combat threat from Islamist extremists. The new measures include penalties for immigrants who fail to learn English or otherwise integrate into British society and a requirement for staff at job centers to look for claimants who seem like they may become targets for radicalization.