The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has issued a statement on its resumption of ties with the U.K. government which blames “Islamophobes and pro-Israel lobbyists” who are said to want to disenfranchise British Muslims. According to the MCB statement:
On January 15th 2010 the UK government announced  that it was restoring ties with the Muslim Council of Britain – the UK’s largest Islamic umbrella organization. The UK government had suspended all contact with the MCB some ten months earlier in March 2009 after the MCB’s Deputy Secretary-General; Daud Abdullah, had signed the Istanbul Declaration in solidarity with the occupied Palestinian nation following the criminal Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza. The then Communities Secretary; Hazel Blears, had argued that the Istanbul Declaration could be construed as advocating attacks on the British Navy in the event of it taking part in the siege of Gaza. Daud Abdullah strongly refuted this interpretation  but Blears dug in her heels and publicly called on the MCB to dismiss Daud Abdullah from his MCB position. Blears’ high-handed demand was totally unprecedented and constituted an incredibly serious and wholly unwarranted attempt at interfering in the running of an independent community organization. Fortunately, despite the intense pressure from Blears, the MCB managed to remain firm and point blank refused to sack Daud Abdullah. To have succumbed to government pressure would certainly have cost the MCB immensely in terms of community respect. As it was, the MCB emerged with its independence strengthened and there was widespread outrage – and this was not just limited to British Muslims – at the crude and aggressive governmental attempt to intimidate the MCB. Fortunately, despite the intense pressure from Blears, the MCB managed to remain firm and point blank refused to sack Daud Abdullah. Hazel Blears was alas herself forced to resign from the government in disgrace a few months later after falling victim to the expenses scandal that rocked the British parliament. Her replacement as the Communities Secretary; John Denham, is by all accounts, a far more sensible politician and appears genuinely interested in working with all faith communities without being seen to be favoring any particular group or lobby. This has inevitably made him a target for the Islamophobes and pro-Israel lobbyists in the UK media who want to see British Muslims prevented from having any input or influence in mainstream politics.
Previous posts have discussed the controversy surrounding the statement signed by Abdullah which called for violence against Israel and thought to condone attacks on British troops. The original statement was the result of a February 2009 meeting in Istanbul where religious scholars and clerics met with senior Hamas officials to plan a “third Jihadist front” centred on Gaza and was first publicly reported by the GMBDW based on a translation from Muslim World News.
It is a common tactic of the global Muslim Brotherhood to infer, suggest, or state outright that criticism of its institutions is motivated by a desire prevent Muslims from achieving political power and an earlier post discussed statements made by Daud Abdullah which accused center-right European leaders of deliberately instigating hostility towards Muslims. Often, the global Brotherhood suggests that the Jewish community is to blame. According to the MCB statement:
The editor of the Jewish Chronicle; Stephen Pollard, wrote a comment piece for the Spectator magazine entitled ‘Why do we kowtow to the MCB?’ criticizing the government’s decision to restore ties with the MCB as a ‘tactical mistake’ and an example of ‘breathtaking cynicism and mind-boggling incompetence.’ It is in the interests of both British Muslims and Jews to work together to contest the recent upsurge in far right activities and ensure that Britain’s pluralist traditions are proudly upheld and not allowed to erode away. The actions of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and assorted pro-Israel lobbyists in seeking to block the voice of the MCB from being heard by those in power is deeply regrettable. It cannot possibly be good for community relations between British Muslims and Jews and so it is to be hoped that government ministers will make a proper note of this behavior. It is in the interests of both British Muslims and Jews to work together to contest the recent upsurge in far right activities and ensure that Britain’s pluralist traditions are proudly upheld and not allowed to erode away. If the BoD refuses to be a partner in this central work then the MCB should be prepared and willing to seek out other Jewish organizations that have a less blinkered outlook.
The MCB is a U.K. umbrella group dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.