U.K. media is reporting that the the U.K. government has been in contact with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) concerning proposed changes in the relationship with the Muslim community. According to a report in the Guardian newspaper:
The communities secretary, John Denham, is to attempt a fresh start in the government’s relationship with British Muslims after acknowledging that mistakes have been made in the drive against violent extremism in the UK. Denham said he wanted to see a clear policy shift away from defining the government’s relationship with Muslim communities entirely in terms of tackling extremism. New, revised guidance on the operation of the £45m Prevent strategy, which is intended to challenge violent extremist ideology and disrupt those who promote it, is to be drawn up this summer. The new approach is expected to ensure that funding goes to a wider range of organisations, while a more explicit strategy to resist white racist extremism is also being developed….He said it had “never been” the government’s intention for the issue of terrorism to define the relationship between the government and Muslim communities. Denham also acknowledged the title of the programme, Preventing Violent Extremism, may be alienating the groups with which the government wants to work. The official attempt to mend fences follows a controversial phase in the history of the programme, which culminated in an acrimonious dispute between Hazel Blears, Denham’s predecessor, and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). That remains an issue, but Whitehall officials have contacted senior MCB members to discuss the best way forward. The communities secretary has voiced strong concern to British Muslim journalists about the extent to which the relationship between the government and Muslim communities has been defined by the single issue of international terrorism and extremism. He also said some of the labels used in the programme were proving a barrier to participation. “Some local authorities have already dropped the phrase ‘preventing violent extremism’ because they feel it identifies them as part of the problem,” he said. “We want the Muslim community to play a positive role … If labelling is preventing them from participating in our efforts, then it defeats the entire purpose.” The proposed changes are likely to be met with continued scepticism in parts of the Muslim community. In recent months, there have been renewed complaints that the Prevent programme has been used to fund community groups to spy on potential extremists, and that cash has been given to organisations with little credibility among UK Muslims.
An earlier post discussed the escalation of the conflict between the government and the MCB following a government minister’s call for the resignation of its Deputy Secretary who publicly called for violence against Israel.
The MCB is a U.K. umbrella group dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood. A local blog has featured a look at what appear to be exaggerated claims by the MCB over the extent of its membership.