5th September 1999
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has demanded Home Secretary Jack Straw give a categorical assurance that the security services will not use any member of the community to spy on another. The case of Imam Shafiq ur Rahman and the MI5’s unsuccessful attempt to recruit a religious leader as an informer has damaged pastoral work in areas where such setbacks can least be afforded.
The MCB’s Secretary General, Iqbal Sacranie, said that it was “unacceptable to try to involve Muslims in political spying; it was all the more impermissible to try to pressurise a community imam to do so, after subjecting him to long questioning on return from holiday. One hopes that it was an administrative error on the part of some local officials, not policy. Needless to say, if a member of the community came to know of any suspected criminal activity, the expected and normal course of action would be to report the matter to the concerned authorities. However to ask or encourage a person to report on political and disputable matters was wrong in principle. It would actually lead to a situation in which various communities would be ‘reporting’ against one another. For example: an Indian against a Pakistani, a Pakistani against an Indian; a Hindu against a Muslims, vice versa; and ad infinitum. Besides the questionable merit of such ‘intelligence’, the practice itself is divisive, and would undermine inter, as well as intra, community relations”.
The MCB is collecting evidence of the damage to community and pastoral work that has been caused by this affair.
Thanks to New Labour, Muslims have now begun to feel part of the British nation. However, the MCB is emphatic that this type of action by the Intelligence agencies runs counter to the policy of inclusion. The MCB expects the Home Secretary will let his disapproval be known to those responsible and ensure that security policy would not be used to destabilise and alienate the community.
For further information please contact:
Mr Mukhtar Hashemi
The Muslim Council of Britain