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Government report fuels another round of Islamophobia

Government must engage in dialogue with organisations it unjustly threatens in report, rather than creating new route for intimidating the Muslim community.

On January 12th a press conference was called by the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), The Cordoba Foundation and the Finsbury Park Mosque. This was in response to the Government’s publication of a summary of the Review of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

The Review was carried out by Sir John Jenkins, the former UK Ambassador to Riyadh, and Charles Farr, Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism in the Home Office. With such authors it was inevitable that the report would become another route for intimidating the Muslim community.

Victoria Brittain, the campaigning journalist, chaired the press conference. She welcomed people to the Finsbury Park Mosque. “It is a pillar of the community. It is looking after the homeless and feeding hungry people. It has an outreach programme to other religions, and is engaging with young people. It is utterly false to attempt to link it to extremism”.

Mohamed Kozbar, Chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque, pointed out that 10 years ago the Government had asked for an intervention in the Mosque. He said that “MAB intervened, and within one day the Mosque was brought back into the community.

Abu Hamza and followers were ousted, as were the far-right extremists who used his presence to promote hatred. The Mosque is now a community centre as well as a mosque. It has won awards for its community engagement, both from Islington Council and from “Community Matters”. Yet in the report the Government tries to isolate the Mosque. The Government is showing the community its back”.

Only a summary of the report has been published. The three Muslim organisations called for the “full and transparent publication”. It was published 18 months late from the date given previously by David Cameron. There is evidence from the Mail and the Guardian that the Government was lobbied by Gulf states, notably the United Arab Emirates. Everything indicates a lack of clarity and a bias in the Review.

Certainly the report’s published summary is misleading enough. We are told that “MAB (like the MCB) have consistently opposed programmes by successive Governments to prevent terrorism”. Both MAB and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) have refuted this by simple reference to the record of their work against terrorism.

But the report implies that opposition to Government policy on Prevent, Palestine and Egypt implies an ambiguous attitude towards terrorism. Omar el-Hamdoon, Chair of MAB, told the press conference “Opposing government policy, and speaking out when they are wrong, is part of active citizenship. We encourage Muslims to register for voting, as we are promoting integration into British society”.

The report names a number of British organisations as having links with the MB. The report has a negative and biased view of the MB, suggesting it has not abandoned terrorism.

This is significant, as the MB is the most popular party in the Arab world. In Egypt its entire leadership has been arrested, and is facing death sentences and life imprisonment, after winning Parliamentary and Presidential elections. The report is silent on this terrible repression.

Yet the repression of the legal and democratic record of the MB has been demagogically used by takfiri groups as an argument in favour of the path of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Nusrah, etc. There is no acknowledgement of this danger in the report.

Anas Al-Tikriti, from the Cordoba Foundation explained to the press conference that the MB has no structure in the UK. MB members in exile from Egypt and elsewhere first arrived in the UK around 50 years ago. He said “In that time there has been no record of these people breaking the law or committing a crime. There are no links between the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism. 18 months silence is a clear indication that no evidence has been found.”

The report, however, clearly characterises supporters of the MB as alien to British society. Thus we read “… aspects of Muslim Brotherhood ideology and tactics, in this country and overseas, are contrary to our values and have been contrary to our national interests and our national security”. This raises a threat over the legitimate, and peaceful, activity of all the Muslim organisations referred to in the report. The whole progressive movement must insist that the Government engages in a dialogue with the organisations it is unjustly threatening in the report.

Source: Stop the War Coalition

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