We at the MCB are disappointed at the misdirection of blame in your newspaper by Rafia Zakaria (Saving Banaz, Daily Times, Saturday 16 June 2007). The MCB's position on these matters ('honour' killings) has always been clear and unequivocal; there can never be any justification for taking human life. Killing a family member under the misguided sense of 'honour' is murder. So called 'honour' killings have no basis whatsoever in the faith of Islam. It is a practice which is associated with cultures irrespective of faith.
It is most unfortunate that Ms Zakaria has chosen to muddy the waters in this instance by blaming Islam for this practice and by castigating the MCB for not preventing it. The facts of the case are that the victim never sought help from the MCB or any of its affiliates. She persistently looked for help from the appropriate authorities who failed her at every step.
The MCB cannot be expected to act as the enforcer of law when it comes to crimes by or against Muslims. The Muslim community like any other has criminal elements within it. It is the job of the police to protect potential victims, which they utterly failed to do in the case of Banaz Mahmod. The police failed to understand and respond appropriately to Banaz's appeal for help. Their failure requires open and objective investigation so that lessons are learnt for the future.
There is an urgent need for service providers to be culture sensitive. The MCB has supported initiatives to raise awareness within the Muslim community and continues to do so.
It has of late been easier to package problems which involve Muslims as the responsibility of the MCB or the Muslim community. To any problem involving Muslims the reaction, of some who have a misguided agenda, has been that the 'MCB is failing.' For such people the MCB has become the scapegoat for the failures of foreign policy, war on terror, multiculturalism, etc. It is most surprising that the MCB has so far not been held responsible for global warming.
Dr Reefat Drabu
Chair, Social and Family Affairs committee
The Muslim Council of Britain