19 June 2015
Today the Prime Minister will make an important speech on terrorism and extremism which led one national newspaper to headline: “PM: UK Muslims Helping Jihadis”.
In response, Dr Shuja Shafi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said:
“The Prime Minister is absolutely right in saying that finger-pointing when it comes to radicalisation is wrong and dangerous. Yet the media response to the Prime Minister’s speech suggests that the finger is firmly pointing only at Muslim communities, even though Muslims and Muslim organisations around the country have loudly and unequivocally condemned terrorism, they continue to be demonised.
Terrorism blights all our lives, not least amongst Muslim families. None of us can help but feel the pain of those parents whose children and loved-ones have suddenly uprooted themselves and joined the cult that is Daesh, or ISIL. The Muslim Council of Britain has initiated a process to explore community led responses to tackle terrorism. This process involves not just Muslims themselves, but also friends and partners in wider society.
We are in no doubt that there are many shortcomings in Muslim civil society, which like wider society, is struggling to challenge the terrorist narrative that is potent outside the mosque and in the margins of the internet. But to suggest that Muslim communities have led young people to extremism or gives credence to extremist ideology is erroneous, wrong and counter productive.
It has been suggested that Muslims are not doing enough and somehow condone extremism. We would argue that clear evidence should be presented and wrongdoing challenged, rather than perpetuate insinuation persistently.
The reasons why people are drawn to this are many and complex. Simplifying the causes for tabloid consumption helps no one but the extremists. Blaming only Muslims for terrorism is just as bad as placing responsibility only at the door of government and its agencies. There must be a better way, one where Muslim communities, wider British society and the government work together with, not against each other to tackle the problem.
For the good of the country the Muslim Council of Britain once again calls on the government to work with all sections of the Muslim community to not only tackle this problem, but to make our country a more cohesive place. This will not be done by shunning mainstream Muslim civil society, and engaging only with those who are willing to say what the government wants to hear.[ends]
Notes to Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over
500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,
charities and schools.
For further information please contact:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079