Casey Integration Review: Muslim Council of Britain’s Initial Response

Today the long awaited review on integration by Dame Louise Casey has been published. Though the review has already been championed by those who pursue a divisive agenda and a hostile attitude towards Muslims, the Muslim Council of Britain will carefully consider the details of Dame Louise’s findings and offer a substantive response.

In the meantime, Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain offered his initial response:

“Any initiative that facilitates better integration of all Britons should be welcomed, and we certainly endorse the few, fair and supportable suggestions proposed by the Casey Review. This includes the promotion of the English language, sharing of best practice across the nation and a range of measures to tackle exclusion, inequality and segregation in school placements. And while we agree that forced marriages, FGM, honour based killings and other practices have no place in modern Britain, we would argue that our faith tradition can be deployed to tackle what are essentially cultural practices.”

“I hope we can facilitate robust and active conversations in British Muslim communities where we are frank about the challenges facing us and creative enough to meet them head on.”

“Sadly, however, I fear that this report could be a missed opportunity. We need to improve integration, and it needs to involve the active participation of all Britons, not just Muslims. As former Prime Minister David Cameron has stated, ‘integration is a two-way street’. The report has little discussion on white flight, and could have delved deeper into the economic structural barriers to integration.”

“In our submission to the Casey Review, the Muslim Council of Britain highlighted the ‘culture of fear is emerging which is a big driver in preventing a more united and cohesive society.’

We said: ‘We must recognise that our public discourse and conversation has a part to play in furthering integration. Integration is fostered when the media reports on stories that speak of achievement of minorities, of people coming together and where national moments are shared by all.’

We also said “for too long Muslims have had to endure a media echo chamber which amplifies the misconception that Muslims and their faith are incompatible with life in Britain. We dispute these notions. It assumes that Muslims are not equal, and not civilised enough to be part and parcel of British society. It leads to discrimination against Muslims, alienation amongst Muslims where the national conversation dictates that they are not part and parcel of society, and, at worst, violent attacks against Muslims.”

We hope this Review does not feed into that narrative.

Muslim Council of Britain takes out advert condemning terrorists

The Muslim Council of Britain has taken out an advert in a national newspaper to condemn the Paris attacks – and reaffirm that terrorists do not represent in Islam. The council, which represents more than 500 mosques and community groups across the nation, used a full-page ad in the Telegraph on Thursday to denounce so-called Islamic State and the “barbaric” attacks in the French capital which killed 129 people.

The group also sought to reiterate its commitment to “the values of pluralism and tolerance” and insist that the terrorists must not succeed in turning communities against each other.

The advert, which is headlined Terror in Paris and accompanied by an image of the Eiffel Tower, spells out that acts of terrorism and murder are not “sanctioned” by Islam.

It also sought to highlight the actions of a Muslim security guard who reportedly risked his life to stop a suicide bomber from entering the Stade de France.

It reads: “With one voice, British Muslims condemn the Paris attacks unreservedly.

“We offer our condolences to the victims and their families.

“The barbaric acts of Daesh (or ISIS, as they are sometimes known) have no sanction in the religion of Islam, which forbids terrorism and the targeting of terrorists.”

“Muslims have held vigils and donated blood for the victims. It is not the terrorists who represent our faith but brave individuals like Stade de France security guard Zouheir, who risked his life to stop the attackers.

“We re-affirm our commitment to the values of pluralism and tolerance as the best defence against those who seek to create division and fear.

“The aim of attacks like those inflicted on Paris and other cities across the world is to turn communities against each other.

“As Muslims, Britons and Europeans, we must stand together to make sure they do not succeed.”

The advert was published amid fears of a potential rise in Islamophobic hate crimes following the attacks. Police in Scotland said there had been a spike since Friday. The organisation has already publicly condemned the attacks and helped to organise the vigil for the victims which was held in Trafalgar Square on Saturday and attended by thousands.

Muslim Council of Britain no longer a privileged partner to the Government

When British Islamists killed 52 people with suicide-bombs in London in 2005, the government worked closely with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to co-ordinate public reaction to the attack. The council, an umbrella group for Islamic organisations, described its revulsion at such acts being carried out in the name of Islam. Tony Blair, then the prime minister, welcomed the response. By contrast, the MCB’s description of the recent murder of Alan Henning, a British taxi driver, by Islamic State as a “despicable and offensive act” was met with silence from the Conservative-led government. Once the chief interlocutor between Muslims and the government, the MCB has fallen from favour, and so has the whole idea of the government having a privileged Muslim partner.

 

The council presented itself as a diverse Muslim body. But Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Arab Islamists held a big share of the top positions. From 2006, the Labour government began to seek other partners, especially among more moderate Pakistani Sufi groups who had felt frozen out. Those within the council blame the declining relationship between officials and organised Islam on the coalition government. They resent the belief of some influential Tories that religious conservatism leads seamlessly to violent radicalism. Seeing Muslims through the prism of terrorism is unhelpful, says Shuja Shafi, the MCB’s current secretary-general.

Muslim Council of Britain says female genital mutilation is ‘un-Islamic’

June 23, 2014 

The Muslim Council of Britain, the country’s largest Muslim organisation, has condemned the practice of female genital mutilation as “un-Islamic” and told its members that FGM risks bringing their religion into disrepute. The influential MCB has for the first time issued explicit guidance, which criticises the practice and says it is “no longer linked to the teaching of Islam”. It added that one of the “basic principles” of Islam was that believers should not harm themselves or others.

The organisation will send flyers to each of the 500 mosques that form its membership, which will also be distributed in community centres in a drive to eradicate a practice that affects 125 million women and girls worldwide and can lead to psychological torment, complications during childbirth, problems with fertility, and death.

The MCB has collaborated with the African women’s support and campaigning organisation Forward and the Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the NHS (MSCP) to raise awareness of the dangers of FGM and warn practitioners that they face up to 14 years in prison if they subject girls to the practice, which involves the removal of the clitoris, or in more extreme cases the removal of the outer labia and the sewing up of the vagina, with a small hole left for menstruation and to pass urine.

The leaflet states: “FGM is not an Islamic requirement. There is no reference to it in the holy Qur’an that states girls must be circumcised. Nor is there any authentic reference to this in the Sunnah, the sayings or traditions of our prophet. FGM is bringing the religion of Islam into disrepute.”

The Home Office has held a summit at which other religious organisations, including the Shia al-Khoei Foundation and the Muslim Women’s Network UK, announced their support for a government declaration against FGM to be published.

British Muslims commemorate Srebrenica genocide

The British Muslims commemorated the Srebrenica genocide by paying homage to more than 8,000 Bosnia Muslims men and boys massacred by Serb forces despite being in a UN-protected safe area in July 1995 during the civil war in former Yugoslavia. The Muslim Council of Britain in a message on the occasion said, “The massacres of defenceless Muslims in Bosnia and Srebrenica will continue to bleed the hearts of Muslims in Europe and beyond. It is vital that we bring about awareness of the genocide, especially on the back of recent wave of Islamophobia and attacks on Muslims, their properties and places of worship across Europe.” The MCB Secretary-General Dr.Muhammad Abdul Bari added: “This new phenomenon is symbolised in Britain recently by the bombing of mosques and other Muslim buildings, and across Europe, by the shocking and brutal murder of a Muslim woman in Germany killed because she chose to wear a headscarf.” The MCB also distributed a Khutba prepared by the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Rais-ul-Ulama Dr. Mustafa Cerilć about the Genocide, which was read during the Friday prayers across mosques in the United Kingdom.

BBC apologises to UK Muslim Council over TV debate BBC

The BBC has offered to apologise to the Muslim Council of Britain after airing claims the organisation encouraged the killing of British troops. The comments were made by the former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore on Question Time on 12 March. Moore spoke about the Islamic protests which disrupted a UK soldiers’ homecoming parade in March. Moore said the Muslim Council of Britain had been reluctant to condemn the killing and kidnapping of Britain soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and claimed the organisation thought such activities were “a good thing”.

The Muslim Council of Britain strongly criticised the remarks and demanded an apology. “These kinds of statements are very damaging, and we received many complaints from our Muslim supporters,” the group’s secretary general Muhammad Abdul Bari said. No final settlement has been reached but the BBC has accepted that the comments were unfair.