MCB Responds to Ruth Kelly’s Speech

15 Oct 2006

The Muslim Council of Britain has written a detailed letter to Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government, about her speech last Wednesday October 11th in which she appeared to link access to public funds to support for the government’s strategy on the best way to combat extremism including attendance at the Holocaust Memorial Day.

“The MCB will not be deflected from its duty or commitment to speak out on issues where we believe the government’s actions domestically and overseas have contributed to undermining our national security. We will also continue to uphold the equality of all human beings, regardless of their racial or religious background, even under the threat of being treated less favourably and unfairly by the government. Furthermore, since when has the achievement of community cohesion been dependent on attending the Holocaust Memorial Day? As a responsible representative organisation the MCB has a duty to represent and reflect the views of its constituents fairly and if those views are unpalatable to the government of the day, then so be it,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.

The MCB notes that there are a clique of Islamophobic journalists (including Nick Cohen, Michael Gove, Melanie Phillips, Martin Bright and John Ware), each with a sharp axe to grind, who have desperately and repeatedly tried to malign the MCB and other important Muslim institutions. They would clearly prefer that British Muslims be marginalised and represented by those individuals who are unwilling to speak out on matters of importance. Their actions do not come as any surprise to us. What is ironical, however, is that Ruth Kelly’s department, which is meant to be promoting community cohesion, appears to have now also subscribed to a similarly blinkered anti-Muslim vision. We believe that any attempt to sideline mainstream Muslim organisations will be both dangerous and counter-productive.

It is, of course, right that the government seeks to speak to a wide range of Muslim organisations and individuals. It would be wise to distinguish the mainstream, democratically-constituted Muslim bodies from the mavericks. However, for Ruth Kelly’s department to foster and promote new sectarian Muslim bodies with barely concealed links to US neo-cons is bound to raise justifiable concerns about her department’s true intentions.