The Threat of Terrorism: How Should British Muslims Respond? – A Progress Report

20 October 2016 – In November last year the Muslim Council of Britain initiated a grassroots national conversation on the problem of terrorism and how this affects British Muslims. The aim: to work out how Muslims should challenge the problem and what they needed the government to do. Mid-way into this process, here is the progress report so far.

The Muslim Council of Britain is an independent organisation whose members mandate it to work for the wider common good.

We are a broad-based organisation interested in celebrating the successes of our diverse Muslim community while challenging the common threats facing all of us.

While we have not been established to operate solely within the narrow and often corrosive confines of ‘counter-extremism’, our affiliates realise that real challenges exist, as we see with Muslim families broken up as a number of children, mothers and fathers leave to travel to Syria.

Reflecting the wishes of a cross-section of British Muslim society, our affiliates have directed the MCB to explore a grass-roots led response to the challenge of terrorism.

The Muslim Council of Britain accordingly began a nationwide exercise to engage communities and build a response that we can all buy into. Thus far, consultative events have been held in Scotland, the Midlands and at a national conference in London. The MCB leadership has also met with a range of stakeholders from activists, academics and practitioners, as well as ordinary Muslims up and down the country.

We hope to publish the outcome of this process next year.

Half-way through this process, we can report that our communities overwhelmingly believe that the best way to tackle violent extremists is to demonstrate that British Muslims are part and parcel of British life.

At forums across the country there has been a widespread concern that Muslims are singled out as potential extremists.

Having Muslims pass subjective and discriminatory counter-extremism litmus tests, as a condition of engagement, only re-enforces the terrorists’ narrative.

The Prevent strategy exacerbates this problem and it is quite clear that it does not currently have the support of many within British Muslim communities across the UK and has been widely criticised by academics and practitioners, yet the threat of terrorism is real and severe. Many ideas have been put forward on what communities and government should do together to confront and preempt terrorism. These we hope to detail in our final report.

But there seems to be a consensus in Muslim communities that our security services and police must always bear ultimate responsibility to keep our nation safe and secure. We are grateful to the security services and police for their tireless efforts in keeping us all safe. Their work should be evidence-based, and focussed on the real threats such as support for terrorism, or travel to aid terrorists abroad.

[Ends]

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 also: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/20/prevent-isnt-working-inclusive-muslim-communities-counter-terrorism

For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
London
E1 2WJ
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079
[email protected]

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