Nick Clegg has accused Ukip leader Nigel Farage of using the Paris shooting to make “political points” and to imply British Muslims are “part of the problem”.
Britain’s deputy prime minister hit out after Farage suggested the attack on the offices of a satirical magazine should lead to questions about the UK’s “gross policy of multiculturalism”.
“I am dismayed that Nigel Farage immediately thinks, on the back of the bloody murders that we saw on the streets of Paris, his first reflex is to make political points,” Clegg said during his weekly phone-in on LBC radio.
“If this does come down, as it appears to be the case, to two individuals who perverted the cause of Islam to their own bloody ends, let’s remember that the greatest antidote to the perversion of that great world religion are law-abiding British Muslims themselves.
“And to immediately... imply that many, many British Muslims who I know feel fervently British but also are very proud of their Muslim faith are somehow part of the problem rather than part of the solution is firmly grabbing the wrong end of the stick.”
Reacting to the atrocity last night, Farage said the attack was the result of “having a fifth column” living in Western countries opposed to their ideals.
He told Channel 4 News: “There is a very strong argument that says that what happened in Paris... is a result — and we’ve seen it in London too — is a result I’m afraid of now having a fifth column living within these countries.
“We’ve got people living in these countries, holding our passports, who hate us. Luckily their numbers are very, very small but it does make one question the whole really gross attempt at encouraged division within society that we have had in the past few decades in the name of multiculturalism.”
Meanwhile, anti-immigrant groups in Germany seized on Wednesday’s deadly attack, with leaders of the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and nationalist Pegida movement saying it showed the threat of Islamist violence.
“This bloodbath proves wrong those who laughed or ignored the fears of so many people about a looming danger of Islamism,” said Alexander Gauland, a regional AfD leader. “This gives new clout to Pegida demands.”
Pegida, (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West), reacted strongly to the attack.
It wrote on its Facebook page: “The Islamists, against whom Pegida has been warning over the last 12 weeks, showed in France that they are not capable of democracy but instead see violence and death as the solution,
“Our political leaders want us to believe the opposite is true. Does a tragedy like this first have to happen in Germany?”
A top ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the eurosceptic AfD’s comments as “sleaze”.
“It’s sleaze to instrumentalise the attack for political aims,” parliamentary floor leader Volker Kauder told Focus magazine online.
Merkel and her government have condemned the grassroots movement Pegida, which drew a record crowd of 18,000 to its latest rally on Monday in Dresden.
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