18 Jul 2008
The Muslim Council of Britain views the announcement today of the creation of a government-funded board of Islamic theologians with deep reservations. Initiatives aimed at improving community cohesion are laudable, but coming as it does as a top-down initiative from sections of government who have been seeking to marginalise large segments of the British Muslim community means that the latest project will almost certainly lack the credibility required for it to succeed. We are told that such an initiative comes after a request from the Muslim community; scepticism for such an idea will resonate not only amongst Muslims, but wider British society.
“In a country where the State is largely neutral on theological matters, and where no other similar arrangement exists for other minority faiths, such an initiative will inevitably be met with scepticism and mistrust. For too long now, British Muslims have been viewed by this government through the narrow prism of security. British Muslims – like all citizens – have every right to peacefully disagree with government policies if they wish and they do not need to be ‘re-programmed’ by a government-approved list of theologians,” said Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain.
The MCB has long argued that the most productive way to tackle extremism is to improve upon civic engagement with all communities, to work towards eradicating prejudice and discrimination against all sectors of society and to pursue policies designed to increase social justice both at home and abroad. Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari added “Our disagreement with government is now regarded by some as extremism and we appeal to all reasonable minded people to stand firm in opposing such dictatorial and unhelpful positions. The MCB remains committed to work for the common good of the society at large.”[ENDS]