October 10, 2000

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has expressed serious concern at the revelations in The Sunday Times (8th October 2000), about the French Embassy in London recruiting an agent to infiltrate into mosques, to spy and steal as well as to set up a ‘radical’ newspaper possibly to instigate and implicate the community in criminal activities, including even setting fire to a mosque. MCB Secretary General, Yousuf Bhailok has written to the Home Secretary as well as Foreign Secretary expressing the community’s deep concerns as well as abhorrence about ‘such dirty tricks on the part of an important and responsible member of the European Union’ and asking them to order an independent investigation of the operation and take it up with their counterparts in Paris so that such activity is brought to a stop.

Bhailok said the matter also had a sinister implication for the small and nascent British Muslim community in Britain and added: “We are used to hearing some politicians in Europe, and not just the extreme right-wing ones, venting their islamophobia from time to time, but that is always denied at official levels. However, here was a senior EU member-government hiring an agent not only to spy and steal but also to fund and set up a ‘fundamentalist’ newspaper to broadcast, among others, “the call of Bin Laden for a ‘Holy War’ against the United States.”

“This was avowedly in order to attract terrorist groups, but who would then be helped to commit acts of terrorism in order to prove that ‘Islamic terrorism’ did indeed present a threat to civilisation. I am sure you would agree with us that such avowed intention was more ignoble than the act itself. But is also gives us some idea about the roots and origins of the synthetic ‘extremist’ elements within the Muslim community which make big headlines in the media.”

In conclusion, Bhailok said they looked forward to an immediate and categorical response from the Government to something which was not only undiplomatic and unlawful, but which also served to malign the Muslim community and undermine community relation in our country. Meanwhile, the MCB is also urging the Muslim community to be vigilant and not to succumb to agent provocateurs from any quarter who may try to infiltrate in the ranks posing as pious and radical individuals and pushing them into committing unlawful actions. All Islamic activity and Muslim political action should be transparent and above board leaving no scope for anyone trying to give them criminal and counter-productive ideas.