July 3, 2007: The Guardian, London:
Condemning terrorism not enough
Britain’s most influential Muslim umbrella group today
signalled a major shift in policy as it urged its communities to play a
key and potentially decisive role in the fight against terrorism.
Declaring that "condemnation is not enough", leaders of
the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which has 400 affiliate organisations,
voiced its most robust message yet and appealed to all Muslims to work
hand in hand with the police.
Muhammad Abdul Bari, the MCB secretary general, said the
current crisis meant that issues of conflict between the government, the
police and Muslim communities – who have clashed in the past over
anti-terrorist incidents and foreign policy – needed to be put to one
"When the house is on fire, the concern must be not to
blame each other but to put the fire out. Our country is under
threat-level critical. Those who seek to deliberately kill or maim
innocent people are the enemies of us all. There is no cause whatsoever
that could possibly justify such barbarity." He said the police and
security services "deserve the fullest support and cooperation from each
and every sector of our society, including all Muslims. It is our Islamic
duty not only to utterly and totally condemn such evil actions but to
provide all the necessary support to prevent such atrocities from taking
Inayat Bunglawala, the MCB’s assistant general secretary,
said anyone with information should not feel conflicted. "There must be no
hesitation in coming forward," he said. "Clearly we face a threat from
extremists who happen to be Muslim."
The MCB has called a meeting in London on Saturday (July
7), of key imams and activists from all over the country, to discuss what
Muslim communities can do to confront the threat and to discuss whether
more should have been done in the past.
One official privately described the events and the
political reaction to them as a "line in the sand moment". The unfolding
events, though horrific, may well strengthen the hand of moderate Muslim
opinion. One source said: "There is little room for manoeuvre for those
who have previously been in denial or have clung to conspiracy theories.
People have been able to see for themselves what happened. That could be
November 28, 2007: The Times, London:
Code of practice for mosques
Muslim leaders are to carry out spot checks and will
introduce programmes to fight extremism in the first set of national
guidelines for mosques.
The draft guidelines, to be published tomorrow, represent
the most radical attempt so far by leaders of the country’s two million
Muslims to tackle extremism and introduce an effective system of
The hope is that the new measures will help to prevent
young people from being drawn to extremism through extremist teaching in
and around unregulated mosques.
Among other proposals, they take a strong line against
forced marriages and domestic violence, which are condemned as
"un-Islamic", and recommend that women should have access to religious
training and positions of leadership in mosques.
The guidelines, in the form of a ten-point code of
practice, will be sent out to consultation at Britain’s 1,500-plus mosques
before being issued in their final form next March.
The Times has seen a copy of the draft "core
standards", drawn up by the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB),
an alliance of four of Britain’s top Muslim organisations set up in June
last year to provide a "positive influence" for British Muslims.
The standards have emerged from the working groups set up
by the government in an attempt to tackle Islamic extremism after the July
7, 2005 London bombings.
But there has been no input from the government into their
content. Muslim leaders have deliberately distanced themselves from
ministers as part of their determination to make their community
Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, one
of the organisations behind the core standards, told The Times that
Muslim leaders wanted to avoid British mosques going down the same road as
countries such as Turkey and Egypt, where many imams are employed by the
state and preach little more than government policy in their sermons.
Under the new guidelines, mosques will agree to random
visits by trained teams to check that standards are being met. They will
have to commit themselves to "open, democratic, accountable management"
and introduce policies on equality, child protection and racial and
religious harassment. Mosques will have to agree to give women access to
religious and scholarly training.
Mosques will also pledge to have programmes that "promote
civic responsibility of Muslims in wider society" and that "actively
combat all forms of violent extremism within the society at large". They
must also agree to provide Islamic awareness training for local
communities and to publicise forced marriages and domestic violence as
Besides the Muslim Council of Britain, the other
organisations backing the new standards for the Mosques and Imams National
Advisory Board are the Al-Khoei Foundation, the British Muslim Forum and
the Muslim Association of Britain.
Manazir Ahsan, director-general of the Islamic Foundation
in Leicester and chairman of the board’s steering committee, said that
over the next three months representatives from the four organisations
involved would visit every mosque in Britain and talk to the imams,
community leaders and management