|Published on 9th October 2009
25 Furnival Street
30th September 2009
Last week Simon Rocker reported that the Board of Deputies suggested to a parliamentary committee that the Muslim Council of Britain be engaged with based on arbitrary criteria as set by the Board and the Community Security Trust.
The reported demand is posited in the customary accusations that are usually thrown at our organisation by hateful journalists, such as your newly installed political editor, and divisive lobby groups who are keen to vilify Muslims. That these same demands should come from the Board of Deputies is all the more surprising. If true, we are afraid it represents a new low and hinders any initiative to foster mutual respect and dialogue.
At no point has the Muslim Council of Britain placed such intellectually dishonest demands on the Board or any other Jewish community organisation. We may have deeply held views and disagreements over the issue of Israel-Palestine, but we have never sought to use the issue to marginalise the Board or the Jewish community in general, even though we never saw the Board ever object against flagrant human rights abuses perpetuated by the State of Israel. A recent report from the UN Human Rights found Israel to be guilty of war crimes, but as far as we know no Muslim has asked Jewish organisations to endorse the report and hold the Israeli regime to account. And yet, it would appear that there are many who are ready to hoist on others the ludicrous charge of anti-Semitism because such campaigners adopt a principled stance in upholding Palestinian human rights.
Your report suggests that the Board of Deputies claim that the MCB is dominated by 'Islamists' -- an arbitrary term deployed for cynical ends. The MCB is a diverse body, and we are proud that our constitution requires the body to represent the rich and diverse British Muslim community. 'Islamists', whatever that term means, are as much a part of the Muslim community as any other Muslim tradition or tendency. We are an inclusive body and all of our affiliates are committed to seeking the common good of all.
For the avoidance of any doubt let us be clear as to where we stand. The MCB unhesitatingly and wholeheartedly supports the determination that the horrendous crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi Holocaust are never forgotten and never again such crimes are allowed to happen. This will always be our stated position. We abhor anti-Semitism and we have much to learn from the Jewish community as the tide of hate now turns to Muslims.
Britain, like other parts of Europe, is seeing an accelerating xenophobia. We see the increasing voice of many groups and individuals, anti-Muslim in the main for now. This should be a clear warning to all. This virus can spread all too easily and it is in our common interest to confront this menace and work together for the benefit of both our communities in this regard.
We propose that we establish a framework in which we agree to disagree on issues such as the Middle East. The issues and mutual concerns facing us in the UK should always remain paramount during the course of our engagement. We have stated time and time again: there is more that unites us than divides us.
Secretary, Media Committee
The Muslim Council of Britain