Michael Howard tonight spoke of shared Conservative and Islamic values as he launched his party’s Muslim Forum.
The new body will “allow the party to learn from the Muslim community and will also help Muslim Britons play their full part in the Conservative Party—at the highest level”, he said.
His speech came after energy minister Mike O’Brien sparked a row by claiming the Tory leader would do nothing for Muslims.
Mr Howard, the son of Jewish immigrants, accused Mr O’Brien of a “low personal attack”.
The Tory leader tonight praised the “immense” contribution Muslims made to national life.
“British Muslims form an economically vibrant, culturally creative, socially aware community which enriches modern Britain,” he said.
“There are many natural ties, of friendship, common outlook and shared values that unite the Muslim community and the Conservative Party.
“I believe we share a commitment to the integrity of the family, a respect for the wisdom of tradition, an opposition to the drugs culture, social breakdown and crime, a belief in the importance of compassion and the need to help the vulnerable, a commitment to enterprise, hard work and individual ambition.
“And a desire for peace across the globe.
“I’m delighted that the Conservative Muslim Forum now exists to give a formal institutional expression to our ties of friendship and shared values.”