London, Feb.11 : British Muslims have expressed outrage over a minister's claim that their inbreeding has led to a high number of disabled children in the community.
Environment Minister Phil Woolas said there was a particular problem with British Muslims going through arranged marriages with cousins.
Woolas, who has a large number of Muslims in his Oldham constituency, said: "If you talk to any primary care worker, they will tell you that levels of disability among the Pakistani population are higher than the general population. And everybody knows it's caused by first cousin marriage."
Research has shown that British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have genetic disorders than the general population
"These comments are racist and typical of the Islamophobia that we have witnessed recently," The Mirror quoted Asghar Bukhari, a spokesman of the The Muslim Public Affairs Council, as saying.
He demanded that Woolas be sacked.
Labour Chief Whip Geoff Hoon, however, backed the minister by saying: "I am confident that what he has said will have been said with sensitivity and with proper regard to Muslims right across the United Kingdom."