About the MCB and who it represents
The MCB is the country’s largest umbrella body of Muslim organisations and works similarly to many other national representative bodies. Founded in 1997, the MCB now has over 500 mosques, educational and charitable associations affiliated to it and is a cross-sectarian organisation with affiliates belonging to Islam’s diverse religious traditions.
From its very inception the MCB has sought to reflect the views of its affiliates who, by extension, represent a very large cross-section of Britain’s diverse Muslim community. It has never claimed to be the sole representatives of the British Muslim community.
The majority of British Muslims appear to believe the MCB are doing a good job in representing Muslims, (55% in BBC poll; 51% in Channel 4 poll: figures that are significantly higher than the UK’s political parties).
Critics of MCB however have sought to misrepresent one poll to suit their own agenda. The ICM poll interpreted by the Policy Exchange (a think tank that is at the bottom of the transparency index and found to have fabricated information about Muslims by Newsnight) is being entirely misrepresented to reach the conclusion that the MCB does not represent the views of British Muslims.
The method of reaching that conclusion was as follows:
- “If you needed to engage or influence local or government officials, how do you prefer to do this?” – 20% responded: “through a Muslim organisation”
- “Which Muslim organisation would you choose to help engage with government officials on your behalf?” – 9% responded with the Muslim Council of Britain.
From this, they concluded that approximately 2% (20% x 9%) of the population support the MCB.
The MCB serves affiliates rather than individuals and therefore this poll does nothing to demonstrate the support, reach or representative nature of the MCB.
The BBC asked a simple question in a poll “The Muslim Council of Britain does a good job representing the views of Muslims” and the results were as follows:
- – 55% agreed
- – 28% disagreed
- – 16% didn’t know
- – 1% refused to answer
Channel 4 similarly asked a simple question in its poll: “To what extent do you agree or disagree that the Muslim Council of Britain represents your views?”, and the results were as follows:
- – 51% agreed
- – 8% disagreed
- – 21% did not know
One BBC correspondent had unfortunately fallen for the myth that appears to be promoted by Policy Exchange, and the Editorial Complaints Unit acknowledged that “the poll in question had not been framed with a view to measuring the extent of support for the Council” and explained to the correspondent the importance of reporting “with due accuracy” given the presence of other surveys.
Relations with the government
It is claimed that the Labour government leaving office in 2010 severed relations with the Muslim Council of Britain, a policy upheld by the current Conservative government.
Whilst it is the case that the Labour government cut ties with the Muslim Council of Britain in 2009, this was reversed in early 2010.
Furthermore, under the Coalition government, the MCB has met with a number of Liberal Democrat Ministers including the Minister for Communities, Stephen Williams, at the Department for Communities and Local Government in September 2014, the Energy Secretary Ed Davey in 2014, and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the Cabinet Office in September 2015.
It is only the Conservative Party with which there has been no formal engagement at ministerial level in recent years.
The MCB will praise and criticise government policy just like any membership organisation should do if it truly seeks to represent the people they claim to do. The idea that such differences of opinion are unacceptable in a democracy goes against the very British values we all hold dear. The Muslim Council of Britain will always ensure that it maintains sincerity and integrity in its relationships with all external parties and where necessary, will be critical and frank. Authenticity will always be the basis of any engagement, and the MCB positions are available on www.mcb.org.uk.
Soft on extremism
A common slur levelled mainly by bigots is that the Muslim Council of Britain has any association with extremism. This is a smear which not only the MCB but British Muslims must deal with, all the time. We have clearly and consistently condemned the violence done by people who claim to do this in the name of our religion
While the Muslim Council of Britain has a diverse membership, all affiliates of the MCB are committed to the fundamental goal of seeking the common good for the whole society. Spreading of hatred or espousing violence against others is wholly incompatible with seeking the common good. The Sharia does not permit or sanction acts of hatred or use of violence against any person on grounds of their belief or non-belief.