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UK politician blames Muslims for pub closures

The comments by Lord Hodgson were branded by Muslim groups as ‘ridiculous’

Published: Updated:

A British politician and former beer brewery boss has been criticized after blaming Britain’s growing Muslim population for pub closures across the country, The Independent reported on Thursday.

During a debate in the upper house of parliament, the House of Lords, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said that “socio-economic factors,” including an increasing number of non-drinking Muslims in the country’s demographic makeup, were to blame for the country-wide pub closures than “rapacious” pub franchises.

In Nottingham, Leicester, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham – cities with large Muslim populations “the increase in the Muslim population who don’t drink leads to many pub closures,” Hodgson said.

“It is exceptionally hard for a publican who has put 10 years of his life into trying to build up a business to accept the inevitability of these tides of history,” he added.

Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, an interfaith and anti-extremist organization, described the comments as “ridiculous” and “banal,” according to The Independent.

“It is quite ridiculous to blame Muslims for the closure of pubs when in fact the consumption and marketing of alcohol has also changed over time.”

To blame Muslims “also assumes that all Muslims do not drink. Some do and still regard themselves as Muslims, so the issue is far more complex than this banal statement,” he added.

Nasima Begum, a spokeswoman for the Muslim Council of Britain said: “It is surprising and disappointing for Lord Hodgson to scapegoat Muslims for the failure of his business.”

“What next? Muslims to be blamed for a fall in pork scratchings sales?” referring to a salty snack commonly sold in pubs.

Defending his comments, Hodgson told the newspaper that his critics were being “slightly over-sensitive” and that his address in the House of Lords mentioned several different reasons why British pubs are closing down.

“This is not a criticism of Muslims. I thought nearly all Muslims don’t drink, but maybe some do,” he said.