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British Muslim minister quits over Gaza policy

 A British minister who was the first Muslim to sit in the cabinet resigned on Tuesday (Aug 5) over the government's policy on Gaza.

LONDON: A British minister who was the first Muslim to sit in the cabinet resigned on Tuesday (Aug 5) over the government's policy on Gaza. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a minister at the Foreign Office and minister for faith and communities, wrote on Twitter: "With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza."

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government has drawn criticism, including from the main opposition Labour party, for not taking a tougher line against Israel over its operations in Gaza. On Monday (Aug 4), Cameron said the United Nations was "right" to condemn an air strike near a school in Rafah on Sunday which killed 10 people but would not say whether he thought it was a "criminal" act.

Warsi's parents were Pakistani immigrants and she was made a member of parliament's upper House of Lords in 2007. She was appointed to Cameron's cabinet when his coalition government took power in 2010 and while she initially had a high media profile, her star had dimmed in recent years. She was shuffled out of the full cabinet, the powerful inner circle of government ministers, in 2012.

Labour leader Ed Miliband last week accused Cameron of "inexplicable" silence over the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. "The government needs to send a much clearer message to Israel that its actions in Gaza are unacceptable and unjustifiable," Miliband said. "What I want to hear from David Cameron is that he believes that Israel's actions in Gaza are wrong and unjustified, and we haven't heard that from him."

Warsi's resignation drew immediate praise on Twitter from some Labour MPs. "Very courageous of my brave friend @SayeedaWarsi to resign over this Government's inexplicable silence and total weakness on the #Gaza crisis," wrote Sadiq Khan, Labour's lead spokesman on justice.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, seen as a possible future successor to Cameron, said following Warsi's resignation that events in Gaza were "utterly horrifying and unacceptable". "I cannot for the life of me see why this is a sensible strategy," the Conservative said on his show on London radio station LBC. "I cannot for the life of me see the purpose of this. It is disproportionate, ugly and tragic and will not do Israel any good the long run."