The sister-in-law of former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has said a rise in the number of Muslims in Britain would be “good for the country”.
Journalist Lauren Booth – sister of Mr Blair’s wife Cherie – converted to Islam last year.
And she told a conference in Colchester, Essex, that since becoming a Muslim she was a “better worker” and a “better mother” to her two daughters.
She told the University of Essex’s annual Islamic Conference that Britons were “seeking not to be afraid” of Muslims and wanted Muslims “to be happy”.
Ms Booth was asked how Mr and Mrs Blair had reacted to her conversation and said: “My sister … recognises that it is a great faith that people follow. Tony Blair is Tony Blair.”
“If the number of British Muslims increases you should know it will be only good for the country,” Ms Booth told the conference, in a lecture entitled My Journey to Islam.
“I am a better community person, I am a better worker, I am a better mother.”
Ms Booth said she had been “scared” of Arabs, and “probably” of Muslims. She said that given the amount of “one-sided news” people absorbed it was hard for Britons not to be prejudiced.
But she told the conference, called Islam: Fear or Not to Fear, that British non-Muslims “wanted it to be OK”.
“They are seeking not to be afraid of us,” said Ms Booth. “The British people want us to be happy in their community. The British people are pretty good, you know. We all really want this to work.”