Facts about MCB

Every now and again, assertions are made about the Muslim Council of Britain that are not wholly true.

While you can see our Frequently Asked Questions page, this section deals with the regular myths about the MCB. If you would like to have MCB address any of the issues below, please email [email protected].

About the MCB and who it represents

The MCB is the country’s largest and most diverse umbrella body for Muslim organisations and works similarly to many other national representative bodies for other faith communities.

Founded in 1997, it has 500 member organisations including mosques, schools, charitable associations and professional networks.

From its very inception the MCB has sought to reflect the views of its member organisations who, by extension, represent a very large cross-section of Britain’s diverse Muslim communities. It has never claimed to be the sole representative of British Muslim communities.

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:

  1. “If you needed to engage or influence local or government officials, how do you prefer to do this?” – 20% responded: “through a Muslim organisation”
  2. “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 its members 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-based organisation should do if it truly seeks to represent its membership. 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.

Further issues surrounding the MCB’s relationship with the Government are explored in this peer-reviewed journal paper published in 2020: The Muslim Council of Britain: Progressive Interlocutor or Redundant Gatekeeper?

“Soft” on extremism

A common slur is that the Muslim Council of Britain has “association” with extremism.

This is a smear which not only the MCB but many other British Muslims organisations or individuals 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 (see statements on our website)

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. Islam does not permit or sanction acts of hatred or use of violence against any person on grounds of their belief or non-belief.