An MCB delegation met the Home Secretary, David Blunkett and the Home Office Minister, Fiona Mactaggart on Tuesday 9th December 2003 to express the widespread sense of disquiet and alarm in the Muslim community over the rough and indiscriminate manner in which anti-terrorism legislation is currently being applied. As a result it is disproportionately affecting the law-abiding community collectively. Many innocent Muslims have been arrested only to be released days later without charge, traumatised.
The Home Secretary said that it was important that the anti-terrorism powers were used firmly but proportionately; he reassured the MCB that he would not tolerate any use that was shown to be inappropriate.
Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the MCB, said there had been several positive outcomes as a result of the meeting:
- agreed quarterly meetings with the Home Secretary to discuss issues affecting the British Muslim community
- an undertaking from the Home Secretary for Home Office officials to meet with the MCB to identify causes of concern about the way anti-terrorism legislation is applied.
- a willingness from the Home Secretary to look at statistics provided by the MCB which suggested that there was a worrying discrepancy between the number of arrests and the numbers eventually charged and prosecuted.
Iqbal Sacranie further said:
"We made sure the Home Secretary was aware of the depths of anxiety and concern in our community about the abuse of anti-terrorism powers. This type of behaviour is undermining years of constructive engagement between the government and the Muslim community. We also made it clear that, whilst some good work has occurred to address equality issues, a lot more needs to happen. We obtained commitments from Home Office Ministers to work with us to identify problems and achieve solutions together. We hope we got our points across and it was certainly a constructive meeting."
Concerning the British detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the Home Secretary clarified press reports to the contrary, saying that he believes the detainees should either receive a fair trial with proper appeal procedures or they should be released. The MCB's position remains that a military tribunal cannot be regarded as constituting a fair trial.
The delegation also said that it was time to accentuate on the positive by accelerating the process of faith and civil renewal, remove social exclusion, by amongst others, criminalising incitement to religious hatred and extending the present Race Relations Act to include religion as well.
The MCB delegation consisted of Iqbal Sacranie (Secretary-General of the MCB), Sadiq Khan (Chair, MCB Legal Affairs Committee), Shiban Akbar (Chair, MCB Social Affairs Committee) and Inayat Bunglawala (Secretary, MCB Media Committee). Urdu version of this Press Release is also available click here (pdf)
For further information please contact the MCB office on 07860-375725 or 07956-353738.