Islam body to guide UK government

Britain has taken the lead among Western countries with large resident Muslim communities to fund a board of Islamic theologians who will pronounce on some of the knottiest, most controversial issues of faith such as women’s rights and kamikaze religiosity, in what many see as an attempt to create an Anglo-Saxon version of Islam. The British body, which is yet to be given a name, will bring together 20 leading Islamist thinkers. It will be financially sponsored by the government but is advertised as committed to the baseline of independent thought, with no reference to political considerations. The British body will be distinct from its five-year-old French forbear, the Council for the Muslim Religion and will have more authority and weight than the UK’s most important, existing Muslim representative body, the Muslim Council of Britain. Analysts said the new British body has emerged as an attempt to sideline violent extremists who preach a hate-filled version of Islam dedicated to the destruction of Western systems and patterns of thought. The new British body, which was publicly endorsed as a good idea whose time has come by communities secretary Hazel Blears, will see Oxford and Cambridge Universities host a group of scholars to lead the debate on key British Muslim issues such as women’s rights and responsibilities and loyalty to the host country, Britain.