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David Miliband(Archived), London
President Obama said a few weeks ago: "America is not and never will be at war with Islam". Next month he will address this theme again in a landmark speech in Cairo. The fact that he feels the need to say this, and the positive reception he has got for doing so, reveals the depth of division and distrust towards the West that has emerged since 9/11.
Britain has historical baggage in the Muslim world. We have to overcome it. In the majority of our British Muslim citizens, we have an enormous resource, combining the values that bind Britain together as a liberal democracy, with their particular religious identity. And in that merging of identities are valuable lessons as we forge coalitions in the Muslim world.
I will be giving a speech later today which will explore this theme. It will set out why I think we need to understand the Muslim world better, and work with Muslim majority countries in new ways. There are no easy cases. But to avoid grappling with these issues is irresponsible.
It is not good enough to categorise people as ’moderates’ or 'extremists' (a trap I have sometimes fallen into). But there is a divide between those committed to politics and those who rely on violence. If we respect those committed to politics, support the application of our own democratic values and help tackle the big grievances, including over Palestine, we can forge a new coalition and win consent.
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