Gordon Brown last night paid tribute to British Muslims as "modern heroes" who brought hope and idealism to the country. The Chancellor said they had contributed to Britain spiritually and economically because Islam was a religion that encouraged fair play, social justice and equality. "Islam teaches us that we are all part of one moral universe, that humanity is intertwined and interlinked like different parts of a human body, reflecting each other's condition. This is a universal moral principle we can all learn from," he said. Many of Britain's 1.5 million Muslims supported Labour until the Iraq war and the party is now working hard to try to win them back. "As Chancellor, I want in particular to thank you for the enormous contribution the Muslim community makes to our economy. I have learnt much from your entrepreneurial flair and talent," Mr Brown said in a speech at the Muslim News awards for excellence. He went on: "So I want to honour you and members of the Muslim community as our modern heroes: standing for the highest ideals, bearing burdens, and bringing hope to Britain."