|09 Dec 2009
The Muslim Council of Britain today welcomed the speech by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to the national prevent conference in which he stated that `Prevent should not and must not stigmatise or demonise Muslim communities’. The MCB also endorses the Communities Secretary’s view that `while Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism is a serious problem which needs to be tackled it must never been seen as the defining issue for British Muslims; or for the Government’s relationship with Muslim communities nationally or locally; or for public agencies like the police or for the media.’
In the experience of many Muslim civil society bodies, the government’s Prevent policy has become the central policy tool for engaging with Britain’s Muslim community. Moreover, according to views gathered from the MCBs affiliate organisations, ‘Prevent’ has wittingly and perilously conflated anti-terrorism strategy with community services delivery.
To this end, the Muslim Council of Britain welcomes Mr Denham’s commitment to widen the scope of the Prevent programme. However, the programme has flawed analytical underpinnings and many bodies, including those who took funding, are reporting that the programme is not working. Prior to 7/7 and even 9/11, British Muslims were establishing institutions and making vibrant contributions to the voluntary third sector. Through active engagement with a range of funding bodies, Muslim community groups could deliver projects on par with other organisations of all faiths and none. These options have been detrimentally affected by the Prevent funding stream and its disproportionately determining financial allocations for Muslim third sector activity. Any reform of Prevent must take this concern into account.
Commenting on the Secretary of State’s speech, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: `Mr Denham is absolutely right in saying that ‘there is no legitimate reason, no matter how passionately you feel, to use concerns about any international issues to justify terrorist activity here’, and that ‘any area facing far right or racist extremist problems which divide communities should have a strategy for addressing those problems’. We are all responsible for conveying and demonstrating the belief that politics and peaceful democratic participation is the only way to affect change. It is imperative that we all work together in tackling the common challenge facing us from fascist groups however they are disguised, and the hatred and violence that inevitably results’
He added `We agree that ‘Having a passionate belief in a cause does not make you a terrorist.’ We need to let people know that legitimate concerns of social justice can only be addressed in our country by seeking common cause with fellow Britons and effectively engaging with those who represent us.’[END]
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.[ENDS]