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BBC's Question Time broadcasts slander against the MCB

BBC's Question Time broadcasts slander against the MCB

Categories: Latest News

Friday March 13 2009

  Viewers of Question Time yesterday will have heard the exchange of views by Charles Moore, columnist in the Daily Telegraph, and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi (both pictured), on the MCB.

Moore used the discussion on the protestors in Luton as an opportunity to tarnish the MCB, which he slandered with his ill formed remarks on its stance and statements concerning soldiers and individuals kidnapped in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Moore said: “I agree with a lot of lot what’s been said. But they [Luton protestors] do represent a point of view that is strong in some areas of Muslim life. And I say this because the Muslim Council of Britain, which is the umbrella organisation for all Muslim groups in this country, I’ve gone to them many times, and I said will you condemn the killing and kidnapping of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they won’t. I’ve tried it again and again. Because these wars are in Muslim countries, they will not do this. They do one thing that is perfectly understandable – they are opposed to the war. That is perfectly legitimate. But there is a bigger, another step that they take, they say it is actually a good thing, even an Islamic thing to kill or kidnap British soldiers – and that is the mainstream organisation and I’ve tried it several times and that issues runs through…’

Moore’s illiteracy is to be marveled at. Firstly, the MCB does not claim to be the umbrella group for all Muslim groups in the country – it is however the largest and most diverse umbrella group representing and reflecting the views of those Muslim organisations that of their own volition apply for affiliation to the MCB; a relationship that is regulated by the MCB’s Constitution. This is made patently clear in every press release issued by the MCB and can be read on their website.

Secondly, Moore’s blithe misrepresentation of the views expressed by the MCB on the kidnapping and killing of British soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, is sickening. Here are just a few of the statements released by the MCB over the last few years and in response to the callous use of Britons, soldiers and civilians, as hostages by armed factions:

MCB Urges Immediate Release of Norman Kember in Iraq

MCB Calls for Immediate Release of Hostages In Iraq

British Muslims Call For Release of Ken Bigley

MCB Calls for Release of British Hostages in Gaza

Moore went on to say ’I really do feel it is time that people spoke up against this bogus Muslim leadership that keeps being talked up by the government, they are constantly pulled into talks, you see them on the television, they are described as moderates, they are not. They are not representative, but they are very powerful. And they get a lot of government money and we have had enough of them.’

The MCB will certainly be amused at the inference of huge sums of government money being received – any Freedom of Information request on the money directed to Muslim groups in recent years will reveal huge amounts given by the Home Office and Foreign Office to pro-Israel outfits like the Quilliam Foundation and virtually nothing given to the MCB.

But Moore was not alone in his ignorant remarks. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, peddling the usual Conservative claptrap about how Muslims should be engaged with as individuals and individuals only, began with:

‘I think Charles Moore is mistaken on so many different issues’, before proceeding to concur with his ill informed views by saying, ‘First of all, the Muslim Council of Britain does not represent all Muslim opinion in this country…’

The MCB has never professed to represent all Muslim opinion. Has the Baroness not been listening?

She went on:

‘[T]hey are not the umbrella organisation. It is awful to assume that somehow British Muslims are this homogeneous group which can be represented by a ‘community leader’. It is appalling. British Muslims in this country are individuals with individual needs…’

‘There are many organisations, including the Muslim Council, mainly made up of men who are self-appointed community leaders who represent nobody but themselves. And it’s about time we started saying that and stopped taking their word as the word for all British Muslims in this country.’

One might throw the question right back at the pompous Baroness and ask whether, as a member of an unelected chamber in the British parliament, she is in any position to pontificate on issues of representation.

More important is her allegation that the MCB are ‘self appointed community leaders’. Anyone familiar with the procedures of the MCB’s Annual General Meeting, and one can only assume that the Baroness and Charles Moore would not condescend to apprise themselves of such things prior to making ignorant comments, will know that the leadership of the MCB, its Office Bearers, are elected by the affiliated members of the organization. There is nothing ‘self appointed’ about them.

One wonders, more pertinently, what Moore and Baroness Warsi understand from the freedom of association in a democracy. Especially, in the case of the latter, since political parties are constitutive of the very associational life a robust democracy rests upon.

Is it the Baroness’ contention that Muslims should join political parties but no other associations for the representation of their views in public life? And is this restriction to apply to Muslims only? Will we see similar disregard for organisations like the Board of Deputies of British Jews on grounds that British Jews should be shorn of associational freedom and engaged with on an individual basis only?

Muslims as citizens of Britain, a mature democracy, are at liberty, as are all other British citizens, to create and join any association they please in defence and promotion of their personal, group and professional interests. It’s called civil society and it is the essential bulwark in which individuals organise against the power and penetration of the state in society. It is shocking that a peer should show such ignorance on the essence of political concepts and freedoms in a democracy.

We hope the MCB will raise its strongest objections to the disgraceful display of ignorance by Moore and Warsi on yesterday’s Question Time with the BBC. It is highly objectionable that such grossly inaccurate and slanderous remarks could be cleared for broadcast by the BBC. The MCB should sue for libel.


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