The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has today written to the Home Secretary expressing serious concerns over growing anti-Muslim violence. This recently expressed itself in Stoke-on-Trent last Saturday when the English Defence League's demonstration against Muslims descended into violence after far-right extremists clashed with police.
The fighting came on the day when a coalition of hundreds of British Muslim civic, social and religious leaders met in Birmingham at the invitation of the MCB to consider the growing trend of anti-Muslim hatred and violence. The meeting called on government and other political parties to openly and effectively challenge this scourge with a clear policy direction. In 2009 alone, scores of Muslim institutions, centres and persons have been targeted in violent attacks. In order to tackle the problem, the meeting restated the need to work in partnership with other Britons. The meeting urged Muslims to seek coalitions with people of all faiths and none to seek strong law enforcement measures against those who indulge in violence and intimidation and in spreading the poison of hatred on faith or racial grounds.
In his letter Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the Secretary General of the MCB, said: "Amongst many British Muslim communities, there is a growing disenchantment at the lacklustre response from our political leaders to speak out against anti-Muslim hatred. Whether this exists in explicit form through the actions of far-right groups, or implicitly with hysterical headlines in our media, the policy response to any of these has been far from satisfactory. We ask you to take leadership in this matter, especially in a year where divisive elements may well flourish in the run-up to the next general election"
1. Facing up to Anti-Muslim Hatred
On Saturday 23 January, a coalition of British Muslims met in Birmingham met to discuss the growing trend of anti-Muslim hatred taking place in Britain.
This Meeting notes:
- That a growing trend of anti-Muslim hysteria and hatred has been exacerbated over the last year. In 2009 alone, scores of Muslim institutions, centres and persons have been attacked and denigrated
- This hatred has been fed by a failure by our political leaders who on balance have remained silent or have ridden the wave of this disturbing trend by failing to effectively stand-up or challenge the rhetoric from the far-right.
- Their inaction is facilitated by the insatiable appetite of a hysterical media, keen to paint a picture of a British Muslim community that is somehow foreign, suspect and disloyal.
- British Muslims are none of these. Muslims have made a positive and enduring contribution to the social, economic, political and cultural fabric of this nation.
- British Muslims have consistently spoken out against all forms of extremism and against all those who claim through their extremism to speak for British Muslims.
This meeting resolves:
- To call upon all political parties to recognise and condemn the dramatic increase in anti-Muslim hatred, and to be at the forefront to counteract this scourge.
- To recognise that this issue of anti-Muslim hatred doesn't just affect the British Muslim community alone. Our traditional British values of celebrating differences while seeking common cause is being eroded by those who wish to stigmatise the Muslim community.
- Urges the Muslim community to seek coalitions with people of faiths and none to challenge anti-Muslim hatred wherever it maybe.
- Encourages the British Muslim community and its institutions to be fully engaged in our civic and democratic traditions to challenge the hysteria of anti- Muslim sentiment and to improve the lives of all people.
- To lobby our media to be more responsible as they report on British Muslims. We as a community must challenge where we are unfairly reported and praise where praise is due. MCB Letter to Home Secretary Home Secretary Letter to the MCB
Notes to Editors:
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.
Media enquiries should be addressed to the MCB Media Office on 0845 26 26 786 or
Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the MCB Office at The Muslim Council of Britain, PO Box 57330, London E1 2WJ. Tel: 0845 26 26 786 Fax: 0207 247 7079
This press release and other MCB publications and information are available on the MCB website at www.mcb.org.uk