Dispatches Programme Cooks up an ‘Islamic Republic of Britain’ to Serve our Already Shrill Anti-Muslim Discourse

02 Mar 2010

In a statement following the broadcast of a Channel 4 documentary on 1 March, media secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, Tufael Ahmed said:

`Last night’s Dispatches fronted by Andrew Gilligan has once again resurrected stereotypes. Using out of context quotations, he echoes the rhetoric of far-right extremists, that British Muslims are somehow foreign, alien, extremist and imposing their way of life on the others.”

“The core of the programme accuses the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) and the East London Mosque, of fostering ‘Islamist’ extremism and that the IFE has an undue and pernicious influence over the politics of our country.”

“Both claims are a gross and highly insulting misrepresentation of bodies that have done much to serve the common good. Both have a long and proud record of openly and actively spoken in favour of seeking common cause with all Britons, and have initiated projects that have served all people, regardless of faith.”

“The central charge made by the programme is that both institutions are guilty of ‘entryism’, a curious accusation at a time when British Muslims are positively encouraged to take full part in the civic and democratic life of our nation. By taking part in politics, Muslim institutions are no different from people of other faiths who gain strength and inspiration from their faith to focus on shared interests and values.

“The message from this programme is clear, British Muslims have no right to take part in this country’s great democratic culture. Other than the far-right, such a divisive message should not resonate with reasoned people who believe in democracy and a plural society.”

“The programme also takes aim at the Muslim Council of Britain itself, casting doubt and aspersions on the organisation’s diversity and its leaders.”

“We reject entirely the allegation that the MCB is ‘dominated’ by any organisation/s. The MCB, with over 500 affiliates, has a rigorous election process with elected officials from a wide range of Islamic backgrounds. Simply put, there is no scope whatsoever, real or perceived, for any affiliate/s or group of affiliates to dominate the decision-making process. The programme has failed to 
provide even a single shred of evidence of how ‘undue influence’ by any affiliate or group of affiliates has actually 
been exercised.”

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with around 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

East London Mosque Statement

Islamic Forum Europe Statement

Muslim Aid Statement

[ENDS]