Miliband addresses East End Muslims on Britain’s role abroad

FOREIGN Secretary David Miliband insisted Britiain’s role in the world should not divide communities at home when he addressed Moslems at two mosques in London’s East End today

The Foreign Secretary David Miliband addressing Muslims at the Brick Lane Mosque this-afternoon (above) about British policy abroad...

...But a lone protester on the pavement outside (below) accuses him of Zionist sympathies’ as he leaves to continue his tour of the East End

Pictures: Carmen Valino

By Linda Lewis

FOREIGN Secretary David Miliband insisted Britain’s role in the world should not divide communities at home when he addressed Moslem congregations at two mosques in London’s East End today.

He had ventured into the heart of the Bengali community in Brick Lane, explaining UK policy abroad.

“I am as much the Foreign Secretary of British citizens in Bangladesh as I am of British citizens in the UK,” he told them.

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“Our foreign policy is informed by the ideals of all British citizens, whether they pray in churches, synagogues, temples or mosques.”

He attracted a packed audience at the Brick Lane Jamme Masjit, which sits at the heart of Spitalfields’ Muslim community housed in the converted Maz’ik Hadath synagogue for the past 40 years which was originally an 18th century Huguenot church.

Nowadays it regularly attracts up to 5,000 Muslims to Friday prayers.

But the Foreign Secretary’s speech was marred by a protestor shouting that Mr Miliband, whose parents were Jewish wartime refugees fleeing Nazi Occupied Europe, was “favouring Zionism.”

The protester, 25-year-old Mamunur Rahman, was ejected from the mosque and continued his protests on the pavement.

Mr Miliband later met waiting journalists where the issue of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was brought up.

People had strong views about the British presence there, he conceded.

“But divisions about foreign policy are not divisions of religion—they are divisions of opinion,” he told the East London Advertiser.

“It is important we engage with all communities so those opinions can be aired.”

His East End tour included meeting pupils at Stepney Green Boys’ school, then addressing 70 members of the Bangladeshi community at Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix arts centre.