Shared National Identity Should Not Be Seen Through the Lens of Security – MCB responds to Prime Minister’s Munich Speech

5th February 2011

The Muslim Council of Britain gives the following response to the Prime Minister’s speech on security and multiculturalism, delivered today at the Munich Security Conference.   Farooq Murad, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:

The Prime Minister gave an important speech today that affects all of us, including British Muslims. There are many things that we agree and we commend, such as the need to ensure we do speak out against Islamophobia, and the need to foster a cohesive national identity based on the values of democracy and equality of all before law.

The Prime Minister today took aim at multiculturalism through the lens of security, when in fact we need a discussion on our shared values that includes all of us, not just Muslims. The Big Society should be about how we can work together to solve our common challenges; not to further isolate, sideline and demonise particular communities.

The Prime Minister chose to deliver his speech on a day when the extremists of the English Defence League will be marching on Luton to sow discord amongst our communities. We find it very disappointing that at a time when we should seek to stand together to fight violence and extremism, Mr Cameron omits any reference to this extremist group spreading hate and bigotry against British Muslims in towns and cities up and down this country. Such a flagrant omission by the Prime Minister adds fuel to fire for such extremists to further stigmatise and alienate entire communities based on their religion or ethnicity. We already see poisonous anti-Muslim narrative emanating from some MP’s, echoing the discourse created in parts of our media.  We welcome Mr Cameron’s resolve for institutions, including Muslim organisations, to subscribe to universal human rights. There is no British Muslim organisation that is in receipt of government funding and does not subscribe to universal human rights. The British Muslim community has stood firm against the scourge of extremism and will continue to do so.

The MCB itself, though not in receipt of government funding, has consistently spoken in favour of British values that acknowledge universal human rights and pluralism. It has spoken in favour of a stronger and successful British nation.  Furthermore, Muslim organisations have time and again demonstrated their commitment to the common good. We have been asked to pass the litmus test and prove our loyalty to this country.  It is important that our discourse acknowledges that British Muslims are very much part of this country.