UK Politics

Home Office Funds Muslim Council of Britain

The FOIA Centre reports that:

Letters between the home office and a high-profile muslim group reveal that the government has given at least £150,000 to it. The muslim council of Britain (MCB), led at the time by Sir Iqbal Sacranie, received the grant after asking the government for £500,000, according to correspondence disclosed under the freedom of information act (FOIA).

In February last year, a policy advisor at the home office’s ‘cohesion and faith’s unit’ (CFU) sent a letter to the MCB’s treasurer Dr Akber Mohamedali offering the group a grant of £148,160 for the financial year ending the following March.

The money was to fund five projects that the MCB had proposed: MCB leadership development programme; MCB leadership mentoring programme; MCB direct, a web portal for information on islam and muslims; British citizenship programme; and British muslim equality programme.

The home office set out a series of terms and conditions for the grant, including: “MCB will contribute to policy development work by attending meetings, submitting ideas, debating issues, etc, which may need to be on a strictly confidential basis.”

“MCB will be prepared to work in partnership with CFU on the development and implementation of policy initiatives.

“MCB will act as a source of expertise and exp-erience to government on issues relevant to the work of the organisation.

”The MCB had submitted, in January last year, a £500,000 bid to fund the programmes in a proposal entitled, “British muslims: from alienation to engagement.”

Sunny has got his hands on all the correspondence, and has put it up on his website. If anybody fancies rummaging through it…

This correspondence does not reveal a secret. It has been known for some time that the Government has been funding the Muslim Council of Britain and its projects.

However, the correspondence illustrates the increasingly close relationship between Government and faith-based community groups. It would be interesting to know more about the thinking which underpins the funnelling of money to religiously defined community groups by the “Cohesion and Faith Unit”.

Many of the organisations which have received grants are engaged in work which is uncontroversial in nature. That can not be said of all of them. There is perhaps an argument for tying Maududistinfluenced organisations, like the Muslim Council of Britain closely to Government, on the grounds that it is better to have them pissing out than pissing in. If funds do not come from Government, so the argument might go, they will come from overseas. Far better to try to “nationalise” this politics.

The flip side of the argument is that by funding the activities of these political organisations their status is institutionalised and their access to influence is enhanced. A similar point can be made about the remaining non-political faith-based community groups. As Professor Sen notes, these sorts of policies play a role in the trend towards the classification of individuals according to a “single allegedly pre-eminent religious identity”

By way of background, other groups to have received Government funding from the Cohesion and Faith Unit are listed here:

In 2004–05 the former Faith Communities Unit awarded the following grants to organisations for a range of capacity building projects:

– An-Nisa Society (£50,000)
– Muslim Council of Britain (£148,160)
– The Inter Faith Network (£32,525 and £115,000 strategy grant)
– United Religions Initiative (£7,450)
– School Development Support Agency (£17,500)
– Karimia Institute (£21,750)
– British Sikh Consultative Forum (£23,500)
– Network of Sikh Organisations (£6,300)
– Muslim Youth Helpline (£28,578)
– Hindu Council UK (£35,400)
– The Festival of Muslim Cultures (£46,000)

In this current year the Cohesion and Faiths Unit have made grants to the following organisations:

– Women’s National Commission (£83,700)
– British Muslim Research Centre (£50,000)
– Christian Muslim Forum (£131,000)
– The Multi Faith Centre—University of Derby (£48,400)
– Tower Hamlets Council of Mosques (£5,000)