16 July 2001
In a meeting this afternoon with the Home Office Minister Angela Eagle, a delegation from The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) strongly urged the government to set up a Commission of Inquiry to carefully examine the shortcomings and failures of policy which are the root causes of the recent unfortunate disturbances in some cities in northern England.
“The MCB wants to promote a genuinely fair and multicultural society which celebrates diversity. For this to happen the government must address – and be seen to address – local concerns about the current social and economic inequities,” said MCB Secretary General, Mr Yousuf Bhailok. “To this end, it is imperative that the Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Home Secretary David Blunkett visit these northern towns and seek to rebuild the trust of these communities.”
The MCB told Ms Eagle that they were also very concerned at the attempts being made by certain quarters to deflect from the serious issue of long-term social and economic deprivation in the towns of northern England by solely focusing on the recent violence. In particular, the BNP leader Nick Griffin’s public Islamophobic statements blaming Muslims were deplorable. The MCB reiterated its long-standing call for the government to introduce legislation banning religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred.
“After the recent publication of the Derby Report on Religious Discrimination there is no excuse now to delay the introduction of this much-needed legislation,” said Mr Bhailok.
“The silence of the Prime Minister, senior Ministers and the CRE at the brutal beating of Shahid Malik – the Labour NEC Executive member, CRE Commissioner and son of the deputy Mayor of Burnley, Mr Rafique Malik – at the hands of Burnley police sent a very negative message to the Muslim community,” said Bhailok. “It just served to underline the lack of co-ordination between the Police and community.”
The MCB also presented two briefing papers [attached to this press release to Ms Eagle based on an MCB fact-finding mission to Bradford on the events of July 7-9th 2001.