After a horrifying slow start on the part of Muslim leaders to confront the media and tell them the truth (which is that most UK muslims are law-abiding people who condemn terrorism) I am glad to see the MCB representatives on todays BBC question time acquit themselves better in communicating with the media and getting their points across.
As a British Muslim I am concerned over 3 key issues which I would like to draw your attention to:
1) The poor command of english and communication - I find it appalling and embarrassing to hear on TV the poor communciation skills of some of our muslim representatives - the representatives of the future must be excellent communicators and have experience of the diverse cultures and lifestyles of the UK.
2) there seems to be an implicit assumption in some Muslims (as well as the media) that as a Muslim my loyalties lie first with other Muslims in other countries - I do not hold this view at all - my loyalties lie with the state which I feel is my home and my future, that is England and the UK. Whilst I feel deep sympathy over Palestine, Chechnya, Bosnia, and the oppressed everywhere - those conflicts are NOT my battle. I may contributed to charities assisting the poor peoples of those states, but at he end of the day, I really have nothing in common with, for example, an Afghan Muslim. The so called "muslim brotherhood of the world" is an ideal thought, but is also a fantasy, now being propagated by fanatics and the media. The MCB should promote a concept of the British Muslim, why this is unique, and what it stands for.
3) I strongly believe that my faith is a personal matter. The muslims that are my friends also believe this and we try and avoid those people who make it a public matter (just like we avoid other religious evangalists). The UK is one of the best countries in the world where I can bring up my children as best I can for their future. But perhaps its people like us who need a stronger voice in the MCB. I believe that the MCB must think in the longer term of leading the agenda of the future:
- in the next 5-15 years how do British Muslims conduct themselves within a secular but predominately christian country ?
- How do we handle relations and communications with the media?
- how do we handle the fanatics and extremists, especially those that announce that their loyalty lies with groups or wars aimed at the UK?
- how do we teach our children the teachings of the Koran in the context of modern UK life and the society we live in and so further improve their lives?
The terror of 11 September brings out the nutters, loonies, bigots, fascists and rascists of every religion and country. I believe that the MCB can be the platform for progressive, inclusive and rational debate within a secular society, which decent people of all religions in the UK can understand and believe in.