The MCB is a familiar organisation to us at HP. While it sells itself as the voice of the muslim community in the UK, the reality is that its bad faith posturing has created distrust to such an extent that it has been frozen out by the government (then Labour) since 2009.
Miqdaad Versi, its assistant secretary general and spokesman, has a very finely tuned sense of grievance and picked a fight with the Telegraph over an opinion piece by Nick Timothy on the huge spike in anti-semitic abuse of school pupils in May 2021, expressing worries about communal politics.
Nick Timothy had referenced Education Secretary Gavin Williamson’s letter to schools warning that while pupils are allowed to express political views, anti-Semitic language and threats must not be tolerated. He also referred to Mr Versi’s immediate what-about-us-muslims quibbles (over twitter and through a published letter in the Telegraph) and wrote:
In response to the Williamson letter, Miqdaad Versi, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, complained that the Government was being “one-sided”. The letter, of course, was not about events in Israel, but the harassment of British Jews. In suggesting there might be two sides to racism, Versi revealed more than he intended about why the Government refuses to engage with the MCB.
And yet they and other organisations such as Mend, a controversial campaigning group accused of increasing hostility by the Board of Jewish Deputies, are treated by many MPs, local councils and other parts of the public sector as unproblematic and representative community bodies. But by engaging with them, the state is contributing to the sectarianism and hatred it should be doing its utmost to prevent.
Mr Timothy’s criticism of Mr Versi was based on Mr Versi’s tweets, the flavour of which can be grasped by this particular tweet : “We currently have a government which is so one-sided, they are unwilling even to acknowledge concerns of those children who support Palestine & the issues they have faced in schools. The bias & unfairness will be felt by many across the country.”
Mr Versi complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) that the Daily Telegraph had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
The Ipso ruling confirms that there was no breach of Editorial standards and “ the columnist was entitled to interpret the tweet in the manner he did and to question was the other side of racism was that the complainant referred to; the reference to the tweet in the article was clearly distinguished as the writer’s interpretation of the tweet, in line with Clause 1 (iv).”
Well done Nick Timothy!
Miqdaad Versi (Muslim Council of Britain) said the Govt was “one-sided” when it condemned antisemitic bullying in schools. When I called him out, he complained to IPSO – who ruled against him.
There are no two sides to racism. Serial IPSO complainants must not stifle scrutiny. https://t.co/FworBfubqb
— Nick Timothy (@NJ_Timothy) November 5, 2021