21st May 1998
Strong support for a just law
A delegation from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body of 250 Muslim organisations in the UK, held the first of many planned meetings yesterday at the House of Commons, with Sir Brian Mahwinney MP the Shadow Home Secretary and Mr James Clappison MP, the Shadow Home Affairs Spokesman. The meeting was held as part of an effort to voice concerns of the Muslim community regarding the Crime and Disorder Bill with MPs from all the main political parties.
The delegation urged the MPs to support an amendment to the Bill to cover religiously motivated crime. As it is, the Bill covers crimes that are “racially aggravated” but does not taken into account acts of violence and hostility against people due to their religion. The law would therefore be ineffective against attacks on Mosques, but would cover temples and synagogues since both Sikhs and Jews are considered a racial group.
The proposed amendment will, therefore, be of benefit not only to Muslims but people of all religions.
In a constructive meeting MPs expressed their strong support for the campaign and promised that Conservative MPs would back an amendment to the Bill at the forthcoming Report Stage in the House of Commons.
The MCB strongly urges all organisations and individuals to write to their MPs in support of the campaign for an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill as soon as possible. The campaign already has the backing of all faith communities in the country as well as organisations such as the Commission for Racial Equality, the 1990 Trust, The Runnymede Trust and the Society of Black Lawyers.
The MCB delegation emphasised the need to generate cross-party support amongst MPs to ensure success. Plans are therefore underway to arrange similar meetings with MPs from other political parties. The delegation was led by Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the MCB and included Dr Hamid al-Majid, Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre, London; Imam AbdulJalil Sajid, Joint Head of the Social and Welfare Task Group and Imam of the Brighton Islamic Mission; Mohibur Rahman, Joint Head of the Public Affairs Task Group and the President of the Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS); Asif Amann, Joint Head of the Social and Welfare Task Group and part of the Brent Islamic Forum and Adeela Rashid of the Muslim Women’s Helpline