The Muslim Council of Britain stands up for the Islamic Forum of Europe:
Dispatches Programme Cooks up an ‘Islamic Republic of Britain’ to Serve our Already Shrill Anti-Muslim Discourse
In a statement following the broadcast of a Channel 4 documentary on 1 March, media secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, Tufael Ahmed said:
“Last night’s Dispatches fronted by Andrew Gilligan has once again resurrected stereotypes. Using out of context quotations, he echoes the rhetoric of far-right extremists, that British Muslims are somehow foreign, alien, extremist and imposing their way of life on the others.”
“The core of the programme accuses the Islamic Forum Europe (IFE) and the East London Mosque, of fostering ‘Islamist’ extremism and that the IFE has an undue and pernicious influence over the politics of our country.”
“Both claims are a gross and highly insulting misrepresentation of bodies that have done much to serve the common good. Both have a long and proud record of openly and actively spoken in favour of seeking common cause with all Britons, and have initiated projects that have served all people, regardless of faith.”
“The central charge made by the programme is that both institutions are guilty of ‘entryism’, a curious accusation at a time when British Muslims are positively encouraged to take full part in the civic and democratic life of our nation. By taking part in politics, Muslim institutions are no different from people of other faiths who gain strength and inspiration from their faith to focus on shared interests and values.
“The message from this programme is clear, British Muslims have no right to take part in this country’s great democratic culture. Other than the far-right, such a divisive message should not resonate with reasoned people who believe in democracy and a plural society.”
“The programme also takes aim at the Muslim Council of Britain itself, casting doubt and aspersions on the organisation’s diversity and its leaders.”
“We reject entirely the allegation that the MCB is ‘dominated’ by any organisation/s. The MCB, with over 500 affiliates, has a rigorous election process with elected officials from a wide range of Islamic backgrounds. Simply put, there is no scope whatsoever, real or perceived, for any affiliate/s or group of affiliates to dominate the decision-making process. The programme has failed to provide even a single shred of evidence of how ‘undue influence’ by any affiliate or group of affiliates has actually been exercised.”
Who does Inayat Bunglawala’s iEngage blame? Take a wild guess.
At a time when Israel is enlisting the help of friendly nations to improve its image abroad after its devastating assault on Gaza and the crippling blockade, and the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Justice Secretary are being heavily lobbied by pro-Israel groups to change the war crimes legislation to protect suspected Israeli war criminals from arrest in the UK, one can see more clearly why the efforts of IFE, ELM/LMC and MCB to politically mobilise British Muslims might upset other quarters in British society.
Andrew Gilligan is not impressed by the complaints:
You may have noticed that any newspaper articles or TV programmes exposing the doings of Islamist radicals – such as the ones about the Islamic Forum of Europe which I’m in the process of bringing out at the moment – always attract weirdly formulaic, oven-ready complaints (”what the well-known racist and CIA agent Andrew Gilligan conveniently forgets to acknowledge is the decisive role of the IFE in promoting community cohesion, ending world poverty, stopping climate change,” etc, etc.) Well, I think I’ve solved the mystery.
Someone not a million miles from the IFE has kindly passed me an email sent out by Musleh Faradhi, the organisation’s president, last Tuesday, February 22nd. “We need to ensure Channel 4 receives a strong message from the community by being inundated with complaints,” says Mr Faradhi. That was nearly a week before transmission.
Then there’s the email – also leaked to me – circulated at 6.12pm yesterday (Mon) by the IFE’s chums at the Muslim Council of Britain. “Do everything you can to get articulate responses ready and distributed from as many of our affiliates as possible…In essence, we need to make a noise out there and we need everyone’s help. It is vital we do this for our collective interests,” says Tufael Ahmed of the MCB’s media committee. Still almost two hours till airtime, Tufael!
Here is some free media advice for the media committee. It would have been better not to be cross until you had actually seen the programme. Any sense that complaints are being “ensured” or that “articulate responses” are being “got ready” hours or even days beforehand might lead the rest of us to conclude that the outrage is somewhat… well, manufactured.