Muslim Council of Britain condemning Ukip 'bigots'

Updated: 

Muslim leaders are to criticise Ukip "bigots" over the party's so-called integration policy aimed almost entirely at followers of the faith.

Party leader Paul Nuttall unveiled plans to force girls at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) to undergo regular medical checks, as well as a ban on burkas in public and the outlawing of sharia law.

The Muslim Council of Britain will say the policy was "deeply regrettable" and attack stereotyping around "bombs, beards and burkas".

In a speech to a Muslim leadership dinner, secretary general Harun Khanwill say: "It is deeply regrettable that the UK Independence Party is singling out Muslims in the most negative terms.

"This is not leadership. And it is certainly not becoming of a party seeking to represent British people.

"Together with fellow Britons, Muslims will be looking for true leadership that unites our country during this time of uncertain transition and seek to represent all British people, and certainly not scapegoat some.

"Bigots must not be allowed to set the terms of the debate.

"Due to the scourge of terrorism that we all oppose, bigots are obsessed with sharia law, keen to question our loyalty to our country and refuse to accept us Muslims as equal citizens of this nation."

Mr Khan will raise fears about the way Muslims will be treated during the General Election campaign.

"When it comes to public policy, we Muslims seem to be boxed into the narrative of bombs, beards and burkas," he will say. "Instead, we Muslims insist that our story is one of faith, freedom and fairness.

"As the country prepares to go to the polls in June, I worry about the state of the debate as the election campaign intensifies.

"As electors, we will all be consuming the hotly argued discussions on who is fit to govern, which parties have the right strategy for Brexit, and where our country will be going as it transitions out of the European Union.

"But I urge our politicians, and the media who frame our debate, to reject any temptation to resort to bigotry and scapegoat minorities."

Ukip was accused of descending into "full-throttled Islamophobia" after its policy launch.

Mr Nuttall said he believed Ukip was "10 years ahead of our time" on these issues, predicting the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems will be "where we are today at some point in the 2020s".

"What we will say today is not designed to sow the seeds of division," he said. "It is about promoting integration in British society."