12 June 2007
P.O. Box 10452,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
As-salaamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullah,
I am writing to express our disappointment regarding a story ('Reclaim True Essence of Religious Belief from Terrorists' by Mushtak Parker) that was printed in the Arab News on Tuesday 5th June 2007.
Mushtak Parker wrote:
"It is clear that the debate on Islam and British Muslims in the UK is now well beyond the cliched approach of yesteryear when the Home Office and the Foreign Office almost exclusively cooperated with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in the belief that the MCB represented the majority of Muslims in the UK. In reality the MCB is closely allied to the Pakistani-dominated Jamaat-e-Islami and groups such as the Deobandis. Indeed Lord Nazir lamented none of these groups were invited to the conference."
It seems that on this occasion Mr Parker was for some reason either unable or unwilling to perform the basic journalistic task of distinguishing between news and comment. The plain fact is that the Muslim Council of Britain is the UK's largest and most diverse umbrella body with its over 500 affiliated organisations coming from many different schools of thought and traditions within Islam, including both sunni and shi'i traditions. The MCB holds regular elections every two years and there is simply no question of it being dominated by any one group or tendency.
Furthermore, contrary to the impression left by Mr Parker's story, the MCB's Secretary-General, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari was indeed invited to the conference and was present throughout its proceedings.
We do hope in the interest of fairness that Arab News will provide a correction to this unfortunate episode at the earliest convenience.
Mr Inayat Bunglawala,
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330,