Policymakers must look beyond security and terrorism when they deal with British Muslims
The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed the findings of the Communities & Local Government (CLG) Select Committee's inquiry into the Government's 'Preventing Violent Extremism' (PVE) programme which was published today.
The Committee's findings reflects the deep anxiety felt by Britain's Muslims as it has become the central policy tool for Government to engage with Muslim communities. In effect, Britain's Muslims are only seen through the prism of security.
The committee's report has observed that previous Government policy "sought to engineer a moderate form of Islam", favouring some groups over others. As such, Government policy has become inadvertently sectarian. Britain's Muslim community is one of the most diverse communities on earth. It is the responsibility of government to facilitate that diversity, not to promote discord.
We are glad this instructive lesson has been taken up by the current Communities Secretary, and we hope it is not lost on all those who are engaged with public policy and the Muslim community.
We also welcome the Select Committee's acknowledgement of the allegations of `spying, intelligence gathering and surveillance' which strongly featured in the witness statements who had experience of the Prevent programme. Rightly or wrongly, this has been the lasting impression of Prevent amongst Muslim communities.
Commenting on the report, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain said, `We support the report's findings and are relieved that it echoes our own concerns on the effectiveness of the Prevent programme and policy.' He went on to say, `The CLG would do well to sincerely take on board the recommendations made in the report and rebuild the trust amongst the Muslim communities and other faiths, in order to further cement the notion of community cohesion.'
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Read the Muslim Council of Britain's submission to the Committee: MCB Prevent Submission
2. The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK's largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.