20th July 2015
In response to the Prime Minister’s speech in Birmingham, Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, issued the following statement:
“We support sound evidence-based measures that confront terrorism effectively. Muslims across the world and in our country in particular, find the conduct and values of Daesh to be abhorrent. We agree with the Prime Minister that we must de-glamourise the Daesh cause. It is neither revolutionary, nor cool, and it certainly is against the basic teachings of Islam. We all have a part to play in this, including the media.
We worry, however, that these latest suggestions will set new litmus tests which may brand us all as extremists, even though we uphold and celebrate the rule of law, democracy and rights for all. Dissenting is a proud tradition of ours that must not be driven underground.
Challenging extremist ideology is what we all want, but we need to define tightly and closely what extremism is rather than perpetuate a deep misunderstanding of Islam and rhetoric, which inevitably facilitates extremists to thrive.
We have heard for too long now that Muslim communities either condone, or are not doing enough to condemn the extremists who act in their name. Yet, poll after poll indicates that this is not the case.
Above all we must recognise that the paths to extremism and terrorism are complex and varied. Of course Daesh is barbaric and is based on a distortion of Islamic precepts but we must be careful not to be over-dramatic and simplistic. There is no magic solution that will make terrorism go away.
We urge the Prime Minister once again to put his words into action – a one Nation Britain will emerge through dialogue and engagement with all sections of the community including mainstream Muslim organisations and those who have differing views.
The threat of Daesh is real, as is the appeal they hold on some young people. We should not drive young people into the arms of extremist recruiters by denying them a sense of dignity and self-worth. In this sense we welcome the Prime Minister’s call for better integration and for giving young people better life outcomes. But these measures should be pursued in spite of, not because of the terror threat we face.
Above all we need to allow for real political issues to be discussed and debated robustly and not drive our youth underground for fear of being cast extremist.
Notes to Editors:
1. The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over
500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,
charities and schools.
2. See here a Compendium of Muslim Condemnations of Terrorism
3. For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079