10 Jul 2003
A full capacity audience of 400 British Muslims including businessmen, religious scholars, community activists, heads of diplomatic missions, representatives from political parties and well-wishers came together on Saturday 5th July 2003 to help launch the Muslim Council of Britain’s innovative MCBDirect community information portal. In all, some £100,000 was pledged during the fundraising dinner and all were entertained by the nasheed group ‘Ashik-e-rasool’.
The MCBDirect service is planned, God willing, to go live in August 2003 and will be a community information service whose remit is to provide accurate, authoritative and reliable information on Muslims and Islam. It is a unique opportunity for British Muslims to open lines of communication with mainstream society and to share good practice within the community. The service will be professionally staffed including information officers and web editors.
Speaking at the launch, the MCB’s Secretary-General, Iqbal Sacranie, said: “MCBDirect is an exciting new development and demonstrates the growing confidence of British Muslims to function in society professionally. Today we have Muslim MPS and peers, academics, doctors, lawyers, teachers, businessmen, artists and teachers. We have vast human resources and God willing we shall grow and succeed even further so as to contribute in the fullest way possible to the life of our country as British Muslims and this is how Islam celebrates cultural diversity and pluralism.”
The chief guest for the launch, the Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, Trevor Phillips, voiced his continued full support for British Muslims and pledged to combat the phenomenon of Islamophobia. In a previous role as the chairman of the Runnymede Trust, Trevor Phillips had been instrumental in first introducing the term ‘Islamophobia’ into mainstream public discourse.
The second VIP guest at the launch, Fiona Mactaggart, Home Office Minister responsible for Race Equality, Community Policy, and Civil Renewal, praised the determination of British Muslims to present the true image of Islam and thus to correct the distorted images that so often prevail in the media. In her speech she emphasised that: “The aim we must work towards – consistently and despite any set backs – is of a truly dynamic society in which people from different ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can live and work together, whilst retaining their distinctive identities, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. Developing shared aims, a shared vision and a shared understanding, and building an inclusive society that increases opportunity for all…These things British Muslims have a right to expect. We in Government must be committed to delivering this vision.”
HRH Prince Turki al Faisal, ambassador of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed his satisfaction about the progress and growing maturity shown by the Muslim Community in Britain. He fully supported the MCBDirect initiative to provide correct and authoritative information regarding Islam and the British Muslim community.
HRH Prince Charles, the Prime Minister Tony Blair, the leader of the Opposition, Iain Duncan Smith and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles Kennedy, all sent messages of support for the MCBDirect initiative.[Ends]
For further information please contact: Prof Aziz Sheikh, Chair of the MCB Research & Documentation Committee, Tel: 0208 432 0585/6 or 07956 353738,