By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, in Kuala Lumpur, and Martin Beckford

Last Updated: 2:33AM BST 11/06/2008

Daily Telegraph

British Muslim parents are to blame for leaving their children open to the
lure of Islamic extremism, according to an influential academic

Dr Farhan Nizami CBE, a key adviser on Islam to the Prince of Wales, accused
British Muslims of failing to make sure their children learn to speak
English or supporting them in their education.

He said this leaves them alienated from mainstream society and exposed to
being groomed by radical Islamic groups.

It is the first time Dr Nizami, the director of the Oxford Centre for
Islamic Studies, which has links with Oxford University, has spoken out
about the failure of Muslims to integrate with British society.

The academic institution, whose patron is the Prince of Wales, carries
considerable influence and aims to build bridges between Islam and the West.

His comments come just weeks after the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev
Michael Nazir-Ali, warned that radical Islam is filling the “moral vacuum”
created by the decline of Christian values in Britain.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Dr Nizami said Muslims would never play a
full role in British society until they improved their education, language
and aspirations.

He warned that those who feel marginalised are most easily influenced by the
rhetoric of extremism, and called on Muslim parents to do more to avert the
danger of their children becoming fanatics.

“Muslim families have to realise the importance of education for their
children and make an effort to push them into achieving more,” Dr Nizami

“They need to make them aspire to things higher rather than just being
self-employed and looking for small-jobs.”

Despite the fears over the threat posed by foreign imams such as Abu Hamza
and Omar Bakri, Dr Nizami claimed homegrown Muslims can be even more

The four suicide bombers who murdered 52 people in London on July 7, 2005,
were all born in Britain while the four Islamic terrorists jailed for
plotting to blow up Bluewater and the Ministry of Sound with half a ton of
fertiliser were all raised and schooled here.

Dr Nizami said: “The assumption that foreign imams equal something
undesirable is not always true. In fact some of the more radical elements of
British society are British-born. This is not an issue that needs to be seen
in terms of religion, but in issues of alienation and deprivation. ”

He said education was key to preventing a new generation of Muslim
growing up in Britain.

“Immigrant communities have to do more to get integrated, particularly on
issues of language and education,” he said.

Dr Nizami, who is a British delegate at a conference on bridging the gap
between Islam and the West, expressed concern at the poor academic
achievements of Muslims in Britain, particularly those from Pakistan and

“This is partly because of issues about their access to good state schools,
but this is also because they receive poor family support,” he said.

But on Tuesday some Muslim groups said it was unfair to point the finger of
blame at parents, and that the Government should commit more funding to
language lessons for immigrants while mosque leaders must ensure sermons are
delivered in English.

Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “There
is really no question regarding the central importance of parents taking an
active interest in the better education of their children. But we need to be
cautious of putting too much blame on parents for the actions of their

“As we have seen in the cases of the 7/7 bombers and terrorists who have
been convicted since then, many of them were extremely adept at deceiving
their closest family relatives about their intentions.”

A spokesman for the Ramadhan Foundation, British’s leading Muslim youth
organisation, said: “There are systematic mistakes, with the Government
cutting funding for people who want to learn English. The imams have also
got to look at sermons being delivered in English.”

The conference at which Dr Nizami spoke, held in Kuala Lumpur this week,
heard that the divide between the Muslim world and the West continues to
undermine constructive political, economic, social and religious engagement.

One of the world’s leading Muslims told delegates that the former British
prime minister, Tony Blair, is viewed with suspicion by the Arab world in
his new role as a Middle East envoy.

Imam Feisal, leader of New York’s Masjid al-Farah mosque said: “The
perception exists that his being at the forefront of taking Britain into war
has reduced his credibility in being able to be seen as an honest broker.”

Meanwhile the Vatican warned on Tuesday that the West is in danger of
becoming “obsessed” with Muslims.

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the Roman Catholic Church’s leading expert on
inter-faith dialogue, said discussions between different religious groups
must not be “held hostage” by Islam.

His comments came just a day after a report commissioned by the Church of
England found that the Government was “focusing intently” on Islam at the
expense of Christianity, to which it only paid “lip service”.


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