David Cameron ill-advised in his approach to British Muslims and MAB
Report depicts Muslim Association of Britain in negative and patronising light despite many years of distinguished community service.
The British Government's publication of the findings of the review of the Muslim Brotherhood has raised more questions than answers.
By declaring it to be a "classified report" and releasing 11 pages of what he determined to be the "main findings", the government has acted in a manner that is far less candid and transparent than expected.
Having refused repeated requests from lawyers acting for the Muslim Brotherhood to view the report, the government has, by default, committed the very act which it accuses the Brotherhood of; that is acting in a "secretive, if not clandestine" manner.
Inevitably, this sad state of affairs has provoked questions about political motives and credibility of the entire review process.
Unsurprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood Review commissioned by Prime Minister David Cameron and prepared by former Ambassador to Riyadh, Sir John Jenkins, has singled out a number of British organisations, charities and institutions – most notably the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB).
Despite many years of distinguished community service, the report depicts the MAB in a wholly negative and patronising light.
Not only did the MAB work alongside the Government and Metropolitan Police to oust the notorious preacher Abu Hamza from Finsbury Park Mosque in 2005, it has since then successfully transformed this important pillar of the North London community into a beacon of community excellence and a model for others to follow.
As part of its endeavour to present an enlightened understanding of Islam, the MAB has conducted welfare projects; it provides shelter for the homeless and feeds the poor. It has done this at a time when the phenomenon of food-banks has proliferated across the country amid cuts to the Government's welfare spending.
While many armchair experts were theorising about the perils of extremism from the comfort of their luxurious offices, the MAB and other Muslim organisations mentioned in the report were busy organising scouting activities for the youth, teaching them useful life skills and steering them away from the scourge of criminality. Yet for whatever reasons, Cameron and Jenkins saw no need to acknowledge or appreciate these initiatives.
The report also claimed that the MAB has continually objected to the Government's Prevent strategy. True, but they are not alone. There is in fact a growing chorus of high profile public figures and academics who have denounced Prevent as a "toxic brand". They include the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz, and retired senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss.
In the circumstances, it is a matter of grave concern that Cameron's government views the fundamental democratic right to object to Government policy as reason to consider objectors subversives – or even worse.
The problem with government officials and cheerleaders who vilify the MAB and similar British Muslim organisations is that on the one hand they accuse them of not integrating or assimilating into society, and then when these organisations actually attempt to do so, they are accused of "entryism".
This inherent contradiction and inconsistency in the government's approach to the Muslim community was underscored recently when the prime minister lavished all praise and extended every possible courtesy to India's prime minister Narendra Modi.
As Leader of the Hindu Bahartia Janata Party, Modi failed to stop the 2002 massacre of more than 1,000 Muslims in Gujrat. As a result he was deemed a persona non grata to Britain for more than a decade.
However, for obvious economic reasons Cameron chose to afford his Indian counterpart a state visit in November 2015.
There are, of course, other occasions when the government has sacrificed British values of tolerance and harmony between different cultural traditions, the protection of individual citizens, and the rule of law.
The Guardian newspaper published an exclusive report on how United Arab Emirates threatened to block a billion-pound arms deal with the UK, stop inward investment and cut intelligence cooperation if Cameron did not act against the Muslim Brotherhood.
It is no secret that the UAE has been the main financial and political backer of the military junta that overthrew Egypt's first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi. The coup killed thousands of civilians and incarcerated tens of thousands of opposition figures and activists.
In this light, most reasonable and fair-minded observers would be more inclined to deem the MAB a greater champion of British values than David Cameron, while he supports undemocratic countries like UAE and the military despot who currently rules Egypt.
After spending taxpayer money on its review into the Muslim Brotherhood, the government must now demonstrate the moral courage and publish it in full, and in the manner it was written by John Jenkins. Failure to do so and accept responsibility for its flaws will only further poison community relations and fuel the climate of suspicion and hostility toward British Muslims, as Cameron was reportedly warned by MI5.
Rather than wait for a time when he would have to seek the benefit of hindsight, the time is right for Cameron to act upon all the principles that he so passionately preaches – honesty; fairness; impartiality; and moderation.
It is ironic that former Prime Minister Tony Blair adopted a similar condescending approach to British Muslims. When faced with criticism and protest over his Iraq policy, he famously accused British Muslims of harbouring a sense of "false grievance". In the end, he has admitted that the invasion of Iraq could have possibly contributed to the rise of Islamic State, and al-Qaeda before them.
Before more damage is done, David Cameron must now demonstrate the same humility and accept that he was ill-advised in his approach to British Muslims, and the Muslim Association of Britain in particular.
Mohammed Kozbar is vice president of the Muslim Association of Britain and chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque.
Source: International Business Times