Abu Dhabi: The British embassy, responding to author Martin Amis' controversial Islamophobic comments, said the UK's record on multiculturalism and religious freedom is "second to none".

"There is a clear distinction between extremist individuals and the faith they claim to be associated with or represent," it said in a statement.

Amis earlier proposed strip-searching of Muslims at airports and commented that Muslims should "suffer till it gets its house in order".

The embassy statement notes that the UK is home to some 1.8 million Muslims. "Muslims constitute an integral part of modern Britain and make a major contribution to every aspect of Britain's political, economic and cultural life," it said.

Amis yesterday defended himself, saying it was vital to "build all the bridges we can" with moderate Muslims, who he said made up the majority within the faith.

His was responding to an attack by Independent newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, who wrote that Amis was "with the beasts in his dealings with Islam".