23 Mar 2009
A meeting of over 200 prominent Muslim civic and religious leaders affirmed their commitment to equality and inclusiveness of the Muslim community in British society. The gathering met at Birmingham’s Central Mosque on Saturday 21st March and was attended by grass roots representatives from a cross section of Muslim opinion, tradition and thought from all over the United Kingdom.
Convened by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), this special consultation meeting was organised to discuss a number of serious and pressing issues and enabling the communities to share their views on the recent media reports of the Government’s proposed anti-extremism strategy known as CONTEST 2.
Commending the MCB for its position and independence, the meeting reaffirmed its proven and enduring repudiation of extremism and terrorism. Drawing references from Islam, various religious leaders reminded Muslims that Islam is the religion of the middle way that rejects any form of extremism and that there is no incompatibility between being Muslim and being British.
However, the meeting voiced serious alarm that the government may be in danger of adopting misguided notions of extremism as dictated by xenophobic commentators who profit from creating a hostile atmosphere from which bigots of all shades can draw. A definition of ‘extremism’ that would classify the overwhelming majority of loyal and law abiding British citizens as extremists would be of no value in our common fight against terrorism. The speakers also highlighted the abuse of current anti-terrorism legislation as it is so broad that anyone and everyone can be booked under the pretext of terrorism and therefore it has failed to focus on or tackle extremism.
Aware of its responsibilities, the meeting recognised that British Muslims have the same inherent and equal rights to hold and promote their beliefs as any other faith community. Muslims in Britain are rich in their diversity of theology, background and experience. Therefore, uninformed calls for an engineered reformation of Islam were totally rejected as un-British and counter productive.[Ends]