Labour and the Muslim Council of Britain
The MCB has been around since 1997 and purports to represent about 800 Muslim organisations in the UK, making it the self-declared ‘most representative Muslim body in the UK’. Ms Blears has said that until the group – once Labour's most favoured Muslim
The Government has severed links following the revelation that Dr Abdullah advocated attacks on British armed forces (specifically the Royal Navy) if they attempted to halt arms intended for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza. Dr Abdullah put his name to the ‘Istanbul Declaration’ along with 90 other Muslim leaders, because he supports the right of the Palestinian people ‘to resist the ongoing illegal and brutal occupation of their land’. The declaration includes the statement that ‘foreign warships in Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza’ was a declaration of war.
Considering that the Royal Navy is present in those waters for precisely that purpose, Dr Abdullah's support for the declaration is not only controversial and provocative; it is a betrayal: encouraging foreign nationals to attack the Royal Navy is treason.
But none dare call it so.
The real nature of the MCB is a world apart from that which it presents to the media. Its spokesmen are always polite, always placating, always pleading for understanding of their piety and sincerity. But the organisation is not liberal, and it does not in any sense represent the mainstream voice of Muslim Britain, despite its confession that it does.
One hears their apologies for their boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day; they express regret about the persecution of Sir Salman Rushdie; they talk of their desire to integrate with ‘British culture’. But they then carry on regardless. Their boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day has become an annual event; Sir Salman receives no encouragement with an MCB assertion of the right of freedom of expression; and integration is to be on their terms. Dr Abdullah was neither sacked nor asked to resign, and no statement was forthcoming which made it clear that he opposed extremism.
There is nothing ‘moderate’ about this group, and those true democrats and moderates who are content to operate under its aegis ought to ask themselves how the organisation can be so vulnerable to penetration by extremists at the highest level.
What is the alternative? There isn’t one. Muslims have no organisation like the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and there is a grave and urgent need for the founding of such an organisation.
Ms Blears has received widespread condemnation from the Left, particularly from ‘Outraged of Bradford’ and ‘Irritated if Islington’. Rabia Malik, chair of ‘The City Circle’, is of the opinion that ‘the government is not in a position to say who should and who should not be in a group’. Geoffrey Alderman of The Guardian even perversely compares the actions of Ms Blears with those of China and Zimbabwe.
Notwithstanding that the Government continues to fund some Muslim organisations which espouse extremism, Hazel Blears is to be applauded for severing links with the MCB. She is to be further applauded for doing the same to MINAB – the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body.
It is encouraging indeed to see the Government is at last prepared to act against those who ‘reject parliamentary democracy, dismiss the rule of law and promote intolerance and discrimination on the basis of race, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality’.
The Government needs to seek out Muslims – and there are very many – whose loyalty to the traditions and customs of United Kingdom are without question. They can be trusted to provide an alternative ideological narrative to Britain's young Muslims, and engaged in the battle against religio-political extremism. The Government needs to work towards establishing a Board of Deputies of British Muslims.