Britain’s largest Muslim umbrella organisation has confirmed that they will not be accepting any government funding based on “preconditions.”
In his speech to the 16th Annual General Meeting of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), Secretary General, Farooq Murad, outlined the community’s response to the Woolwich murder of May 22 and reflected community sentiment to the ongoing proposals to counter terrorism. In his speech he also confirmed that “MCB will not take money from the government, it will not subscribe to preconditions.”
Here are some excerpts from the speech at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Manchester.
“With the reprehensible murder of drummer Lee Rigby by two deluded young men who claimed, wrongly, to act in the name of Islam. That Muslims did this in the name of our faith is a fact that cannot be ignored. That the conduct of our government’s foreign policy, which the attackers claimed as justification is also important to study.
“Accepting that the conduct of war abroad can bring political violence home does not in any way justify that violence; but nor does their violence delegitimise raising questions about the political motivations behind it. We must find a way to defuse political violence and we must open up spaces for robust and critical discussion of all aspects of what our government does in all our names at home and abroad so that all citizens, feel that they have a stake in this society and its policies and in challenging and rejecting all those who would undermine the legitimacy of political engagement, from wherever they hail, and whatever their ideology.”
“The murder of Lee Rigby and the Islamophobic backlash that has followed have given succour to those on the fringes, be that from the far-right or those who claim to do so in the name of Islam. It has also strengthened the hand of some in policy circles, who believe that the only solution to the “Muslim problem” is greater intrusion, surveillance and greater outside intervention. Those who believe that all engagement with our community should be framed in terms of counter-terrorism.
“In our view, extremism breeds not within communities, but in their gaps and margins. In places where the webs and safety nets of community that sustain dignity, self-worth, autonomy and solidarity fail. One of the few silver linings to recent events has been the fact that it has driven home to all of us that occupy the middle ground – be we Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist; be we black or white, indigenous; first second or third generation.
“No amount of investment in counter-terrorism alone will prevent another attack. But investment in the strengthening of the resilience and capacity of our communities across the whole of our society – through the promotion of civic engagement, social cohesion, capacity building, voice, dignity and stake-holding; through the strengthening of our democracy and through democratic practice and social justice. Investing in the resilience and capacity of our communities is the surest guarantee that we can stand up for who we are and what we believe in; that we can articulate our grievances without being accused of disloyalty and face up to those who seek to undermine our contribution to this society.”
Government funding & “intra-faith unity”
“So the MCB will not take money from the government, it will not subscribe to preconditions, it will engage as an equal partner with government (even if thus far has refused to engage), with other faiths and with civil society, on behalf of its 500 plus affiliates. It will do so with a twin aim: To challenge those who stir hatred and suspicion of Muslims, and to press home the point amongst our Muslim communities to take part fully in mainstream society and within the Ummah as a whole, and challenge those who divide us. That means initiating a forum amongst our scholars and activists to ensure that the Islamic message of resilience and good neighbourliness is stronger to our young people than the divisive message of rejectionists. And that is why one of the most important, if not the most important, items on today’s agenda is the signing of a document of intra-faith unity. A code of honour that is based on the idea that unless all of us first recognise ourselves as Muslims, as a single, diverse and vibrant community, we have no hope of being recognised in our turn.
“The document we are signing today is a first step. This document is a signal to the British Muslim community and to the world that we will not allow hatred and division to be preached by our brothers and sisters in Islam towards our brothers and sisters in Islam. Everything else we seek to achieve as a community must stem from this most basic respect for our fellow Muslims. It is a step towards establishing consensus.
“As Muslims we are the inheritors of one of the richest traditions in human history. A powerful force for social justice and spiritual well being. One of the greatest achievements of Islam was to inspire people to look beyond the ties of clan and tribe. It united one of the most disparate and independent peoples of the world – the Arabs of the 7th Century- and allowed them to imagine a wider community: A community of all humanity under the love and justice of a single God. All of us here believe in that community. And we must show courage in standing up for it in all its diversity.”
The full transcript of Farooq Murad’s speech can be read on the link provided below.