Conservatives will shun the Muslim Council of Britain
The Times observes that a Conservative government (if…) would cut links with the leading representative of the Muslim Council of Britain.
David Cameron said that his party ‘won’t do formal things’ with the Muslim Council of Britain unless the organisation distanced itself from Daud Abdullah, its deputy secretary-general.
So they will do informal things?
Cocktails (halal) on the Commons terrace?
Invite them to an Eid celebration, perhaps?
Labour rightly and properly severed all ties with the MCB a year ago after Mr Abdullah (along with 90 other Muslim leaders) put his name to the ‘Istanbul Declaration’ which 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.
It was written ‘In the name of Allah the Most-merciful the All-merciful’, of course.
Considering that the Royal Navy is present in those waters precisely to prevent smuggling of arms to Gaza, Dr Abdullah's support for the declaration was not only controversial and provocative; it was a betrayal: encouraging foreign nationals to attack the Royal Navy is treason.
And so the plucky, principled little chipmunk Hazel Blears severed its links with the organisation.
Astonishingly, in January of this year, without any contrition by Mr Abdullah or a change of heart by the MCB, Labour restored full diplomatic relations.
But that was under the aegis of John Denham, who is neither plucky nor principled. Mr Denham moved to mend the broken relationship because ‘the government no longer wishes all UK Muslims to be viewed through the prism of terrorism and the security threat’.
It was, of course, nothing at all to do with the imminent General Election.
The Times quotes Mr Cameron as saying: “We should have a very positive relationship with the Muslim community and representatives of the Muslim community. There are other representative bodies. We would be fully engaged with them.”
This is very promising indeed.
One gets the distinct impression that the lucid observations and wise counsel of Paul Goodman have been heeded, and that Conservative Government policy towards the MCB might at last be put into some sort of perspective.
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 the 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 social integration is to be on their terms. Dr Abdullah was neither sacked nor asked to resign as a result of his outrageous incitement against Her Majesty’s Armed Forces, 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.
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’. That David Cameron has now promised to sideline them in favour of other representative bodies is one of the most significant social policy announcements to emerge during this interminable pre-General Election period.
And (doubtless to Mr Dale’s delight) the plucky little chipmunk will have been vindicated.