Here is their website, it is pretty clear which side of the war on terror they support
Radical links of UK's 'moderate' Muslim group
The Muslim Council of Britain has been courted by the government and lauded by the Foreign Office but critics tell a different and more disturbing story. Martin Bright reports
Sunday August 14, 2005
The Muslim Council of Britain is officially the moderate face of Islam. Its pronouncements condemning the London bombings have been welcomed by the government as a model response for mainstream Muslims. The MCB's secretary general, Iqbal Sacranie, has recently been knighted and senior figures within the organisation have the ear of ministers.
But an Observer investigation can reveal that, far from being moderate, the Muslim Council of Britain has its origins in the extreme orthodox politics in Pakistan. And as its influence increases through Whitehall, many within the Muslim community are growing concerned that this self-appointed organisation is crowding out other, genuinely moderate, voices of Muslim Britain.
Far from representing the more progressive or spiritual traditions within Islam, the leadership of the Muslim Council of Britain and some of its affiliates sympathise with and have links to conservative Islamist movements in the Muslim world and in particular Pakistan's Jamaat-i-Islami, a radical party committed to the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan ruled by sharia law.
One of the MCB's affiliate organisations, Leicester's Islamic Foundation, was founded by Khurshid Ahmad, a senior figure in Jamaat-i-Islami.
Another is Birmingham-based Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, an extremist sect whose website says: 'The disbelievers are misguided and their ways based on sick or deviant views concerning their societies, their universe and their very existence.' It urges its adherents not to wear Western hats, walk dogs, watch sport or soap operas and forbids 'mingling and shaking hands between men and women'.
Jamaat-i-Islami activists in Pakistan have been involved in protests against images of women on adverts in public places. The organisation's founder, Maulana Maududi, was a fierce opponent of feminism who believed that women should be kept in purdah - seclusion from male company. Although the MCB's leadership distances itself from some of these teachings, it has been criticised for having no women prominently involved in the organisation.
Last week, Salman Rushdie warned in an article in the Times that Sacranie had been a prominent critic during the Satanic Verses affair and advised that the MCB leader should not be viewed as a moderate. In 1989, Sacranie said 'death was perhaps too easy' for the writer. Rushdie also criticised Sacranie for boycotting January's Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony. 'If Sir Iqbal Sacranie is the best Mr Blair can offer in the way of a good Muslim, we have a problem,' said Rushdie. A Panorama documentary to be screened next Sunday will also be highly critical.
The MCB has now written to the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, to complain about the programme in which reporter John Ware will challenge Sacranie to justify his boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day and clarify the MCB's position on Palestinian suicide bombers. In the letter, Inayat Bunglawala, the MCB's media spokesman says: 'It appears that the Panorama team is more interested in furthering a pro-Israeli agenda than assessing the work of Muslim organisations in the UK.'
The origins of the Muslim Council of Britain can be traced to the storm around the publication of the Satanic Verses in 1988. India was the first country to ban the book and many Muslim countries followed suit. Opposition to the book in Britain united people committed to a traditionalist view of Islam, of which the founders of the Muslim Council of Britain was a part.
The MCB was officially founded in November 1997, shortly after Tony Blair came to power, and has had a close relationship with the Labour government ever since. Its detractors claim it was the creature of Jack Straw, but his predecessor as Home Secretary, Michael Howard, also played a role in its establishment as a semi-official channel of communication with British Muslims. It remains particularly influential within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which has a little-known outreach department which works with Britain's Muslims. The FCO pamphlet Muslims in Britain is essentially an MCB publication and the official ministerial celebration of the Muslim festival of Eid is organised jointly with the MCB.
The Observer has learnt that the MCB used its influence in Whitehall to gain a place on the board of trustees of the Festival of Muslim Cultures, planned for next year. This extravaganza is designed to demonstrate the diversity and vibrancy of Muslim culture. The festival is funded by the British Council and has Prince Charles as its patron, but it has been told that it will need to be compliant with Islamic 'sharia law' in order to gain the MCB's full support.
The organisers are now concerned that the festival will lose political backing if they invite performers who are seen to be 'un-Islamic'.
Festival organisers already hope to invite the Uzbek singer, Sevara Nezarkhan, who does not wear the headscarf or 'hijab' and has worked with Jewish 'klezmer' musicians. It also intends to exhibit the 14th-century world history of Rashid al-Din, which represents the human form and the prophet Mohammed himself, thought by some strict Muslims to be forbidden. Other performers could include the Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour and the Bangladeshi-British dancer Akram Khan.
The Observer understands that the Foreign Office insisted that the festival organisers involved the MCB before they would give them their full backing. As a result, an MCB nominee has been taken on to the festival's board of trustees. One source close to the festival organisers said: 'We constantly found our efforts were being blocked and it kept coming back to the MCB and its sympathisers within Whitehall.'
The chairman of the festival's trustees, Raficq Abdulla, said: 'We will welcome the MCB's trustee and hope his contribution will prove valuable. But we insist that the festival is not dominated by any ideology. The aim is to capture the values of Muslim cultures and bring them into the British mainstream. We are not here to be the mouthpiece of any Muslim organisation.'
The strain of Islamic ideology favoured by the MCB leadership and many of its affiliate organisations is inspired by Maulana Maududi, a 20th-century Islamic scholar little known in the West but hugely significant as a thinker across the Muslim world. His writings, which call for a global Islamic revival, influenced Sayyid Qutb, usually credited as the founding father of modern Islamic radicalism and one of the inspirations for al-Qaeda.
In Maududi's worldview all humanity was split into believers (practising Muslims) and non-believers, whom he describes as 'barbarians'. He was deeply critical of notions such as nationalism and feminism and called on Muslims to purge themselves of Western influence.
In 1941 he formed Jamaat-i-Islami and remained its leader until 1972. His writings do not advocate terrorism. But the language of Jihad in Islam, written in 1930, may seem violent to a Western reader: 'The objective of Islamic "jihad" is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.'
Abdul-Rehman Malik, contributing editor of Muslim magazine Q-News, said: 'Maududi saw the world in the same way that Sayyid Qutb saw the world: they both divided humanity into true believers or those in a state of ignorance. Many of the affiliates of The Muslim Council of Britain are inspired by Maududi's ideology.'
Malik said that its leaders needed to be clearer about its position on suicide bombers. 'You cannot be equivocal about innocent people. An innocent person in Tel Aviv is the same as an innocent person in Baghdad or London. The MCB has never clarified any of the critical issues and now the chickens are coming home to roost.'
The MCB's Inayat Bunglawala said he had a deep respect for Maududi and defended the MCB's affiliation to Khurshid Ahmad's Islamic Foundation. He said: 'Maududi is a very important Muslim thinker. The book that brought me to practise Islam was Now Let Us Be Muslims by Maududi. As for Jamaat-i-Islami, it is a perfectly legal body in Pakistan. There is no suggestion that the Islamic Foundation has done anything wrong. They have done fantastic work in publishing literature on Islam, including works for children.'
A spokesman for the Islamic Foundation confirmed that Khurshid Ahmad was chairman of its board of trustees. 'The Islamic Foundation does not have links with the Jamaat-i-Islami. We promote assimilation, integration and encourage community cohesion. We do publish books by Maududi, but we feel these are books of merit to British Muslims.'
Sacranie said he believed that recent attacks on the Muslim Council of Britain were inspired by a pro-Israeli lobby in the British media. 'The MCB carries out its activities through its affiliates. There are more than 400 organisations involved, representing 56 nationalities. Yes there is a following for Maududi in the UK. I am not a scholar, but in many areas I am inspired by what he has to say and in others I am not.'
There is no suggestion that Sacranie and other prominent figures in the Muslim Council of Britain are anything but genuine in their condemnation of the terrorist bombings of the 7 July. But their claims to represent a moderate or progressive tendency in Islam are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain.
The biggest test for the MCB will be its reaction to the more challenging aspects of the Festival of Muslim cultures. On this Sacranie was clear: 'If any activities are seen to contradict the teachings of Islam, then we will oppose them. If you organise a festival in the name of Islam then it must be Islamic. We will advise them accordingly.'
There are those in Britain struggling to transform the austere image Islam has in this country, including the organisers of the Festival of Muslim Cultures, who will not find his words reassuring.
I keep hearing liberals using the hitler comparison when describing conservatives..........
What group of people did hitler most want to destroy?
What group of people do muslims most want to destroy?
Tag for later.
Here is their "denial"
Top British Muslim group denies extremist roots
Sat Aug 13, 2005
By Gideon Long
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's leading Muslim lobby group, thrown into the spotlight by last month's bombings in London, rejected an accusation on Sunday that its roots lay in extremist politics in Pakistan.
Iqbal Sacranie, leader of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), said the allegation, made in the Observer newspaper, was "absolutely preposterous."
"I can't believe that anyone who knows anything about the MCB could take that statement seriously," he told Reuters.
In a lengthy report on the MCB, the Observer alleged the council's leadership and some of its 400 diverse affiliates had "links with conservative Islamist movements in the Muslim world" and "the extremist politics of Pakistan."
It said the links were particularly strong with Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan's leading mainstream Islamist party.
The MCB has come under close scrutiny since July 7, when four British Muslims -- three of them ethnic Pakistanis -- blew themselves up on London's transport system, killing 52 people.
The Observer singled out two MCB affiliate organizations -- the Islamic Foundation and Jamiat Ahli-Hadith -- for criticism, describing the latter as "an extremist sect."
The Islamic Foundation is an educational institution based in central England while Jamiat Ahli-Hadith is a religious group based in the city of Birmingham.
DENIAL OF EXTREMIST POLITICS
Sacranie defended both groups, saying the MCB was proud to have them as affiliates. Neither of them was involved with extremist politics, he said.
He said the MCB was a loose organization and that the views of the council's leadership did not always concur with those of its affiliates.
The London bombings sent shock waves through Britain's 1.6 million Muslims and the MCB is working closely with Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to address what some see as a crisis in the Islamic community.
Some young Muslims say the MCB is out of touch and too traditional, while some radicals say it is nothing more than a puppet of the government.
Sacranie said the MCB had written a letter to the BBC last week, accusing the state broadcaster of pursuing a pro-Israeli agenda in a documentary due to be aired next weekend.
In the letter, the MCB said the BBC had approached it to ask for interviews with Muslims as part of a documentary for the broadcaster's flagship "Panorama" program.
The MCB agreed but said it was then surprised when the "Panorama" reporters asked almost exclusively about Israel.
"It appears that the 'Panorama' team is more interested in furthering a pro-Israeli agenda than assessing the work of Muslim organizations in the UK," MCB media secretary Inayat Bunglawala wrote in the letter to BBC director-general Mark Thompson.
"The BBC should not allow itself to be used by the highly placed supporters of Israel in the British media to make political capital out of the July 7 atrocities in London."
The BBC said it was confident the program would be fair and impartial.
And here is where they accuse a leftist liberal media outlet of "conspiring with Jews" heh
BBC has pro-Israeli bias, say Muslims
By Steve Bloomfield
Published: 14 August 2005
The Muslim Council of Britain, the voice of moderate Muslims, has accused the BBC of having a "pro-Israeli agenda".
In a letter sent to the corporation's director general, Mark Thompson, the MCB media spokesman, Inayat Bunglawala, said a forthcoming Panorama programme investigating Muslim organisations in Britain would "create mistrust" between Muslims and others.
The letter, sent on Thursday, said: "It appears the Panorama team is more interested in furthering a pro-Israeli agenda than assessing the work of Muslim organisations in the UK.
"It is quite regrettable that at a time when it is of utmost importance that trust is built between Muslim communities across the country and the wider society, that the Panorama team seem intent on creating mistrust by serving the interests of the pro-Israeli lobby and undermining community relations in the UK."
Mr Bunglawala accused the programme-makers of being "used by the highly placed supporters of Israel in the British media" to make political capital out of last month's terror attacks in London.
The MCB is the largest and most powerful Muslim organisation in the country. Its secretary general, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, was knighted in the Queen's Birthday honours list in June and has been a regular face on television screens since the July attacks.
More than 400 groups are affiliated to the MCB. According to The Observer, the BBC programme - to be aired next week - is thought to be critical of some of the affiliates for their links to extremists.
A BBC spokesman said last night: "The BBC rejects completely any allegations of ... bias and is confident the Panorama programme will be fair and impartial."
And here is where they promise to "root out" terrorists
Muslim Council checks for extremists
By Arifa Akbar
15 August 2005
The Muslim Council of Britain has set up an investigation into mosques, women's organisations and Islamic youth centres across the country to root out extremism.
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the council, told The Independent that the council, which has more than 400 affiliates and is the most powerful Muslim body in the country, had set up the focus groups to locate and combat the terrorist threat. Its early findings will be revealed in a national conference in September, he said.
The move comes amid allegations that the council is failing mainstream Muslims and has its roots in extremist politics. Sir Iqbal dismissed the reports of alleged extremist links as "absolute nonsense".
Sir Iqbal, who was knighted this year and is regarded by the government as the voice of moderate Islam, said the efforts to discredit the organisation were born from an "Islamophobic agenda". A report in The Observer claimed yesterday that Sir Iqbal and the council's spokesman, Inayat Bunglawala, had expressed admiration for the late Maulana Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami party, which is an elected religious party in Pakistan.
Sir Iqbal defended Mawdudi, saying he had a huge following among the Muslim intelligentsia. "We agree with many of his views and disagree with some. The Jamaat-i-Islami party happens to be a perfectly legitimate and democratic party, which through an alliance with other parties, is in power in the North-west Frontier province of Pakistan," he said.
He added The Observer had provided no evidence for the claim that the Jamiat-ahl-I-Hadith, a council affiliate based in Birmingham was "separatist".
Sir Iqbal said: "The Jamiat-ahl-I-Hadith are respected among British Muslims for their educational and outreach programmes. It is absolute nonsense to describe them as separatist. They are not an extremist sect but a national body."
The dispute comes in the wake of a warning by American intelligence sources that al-Qa'ida could be plotting another terrorist attack around the fourth anniversary of the 11 September attacks onWashington DC and New York. The warning that terrorists were planning to hijack fuel tankers and blow them up inside petrol stations for maximum casualties was contained in a bulletin issued by the Department for Homeland Security.
Britain's level of security had already been heightened after the July 7 bombings in London and the Department for Transport has issued guidelines ordering that security around the fleet of UK road tankers be tightened.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain said it stood by its claim, contained in a letter to the BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, that a Panorama documentary about British Muslim organisations had a "pro-Israeli agenda".
The letter stated: "The BBC should not allow itself to be used by the highly placed supporters of Israel in the British media to make political capital out of the July 7 atrocities in London."
Mr Bunglawala said he thought that the maker of the documentary, John Ware, had "an axe to grind" in the wake of the London bombings.
The organisation has also sent a letter to the Home Office minister, Hazel Blears, that calls an independent judicial inquiry into the events of July 7.
Here is where the head guy says that it is just "a thang" that he attended a terrorist funeral
Muslim council attacks BBC over ‘deeply unfair programme’
21 August 2005
By James Hamilton
Britain’s most powerful Islamic body yesterday hit back at a documentary accusing it of being “in denial” about sectarianism within the religion’s communities, branding the programme a “witch hunt” against UK Muslims.
Tonight’s Panorama suggests the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) should provide a stronger lead and that groups affiliated to it are peddling hard-line views.
But MCB secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie said the programme was “deeply unfair” and was “purposefully trying to sabotage” Muslims’ progress in mainstream politics.
Sacranie, who was knighted this year and is viewed as the voice of moderate Islam by the government, said: “We believe John Ware’s team have made a deeply unfair programme using deliberately garbled quotes in an attempt to malign the Muslim Council of Britain and with the barely concealed goal of drawing British Muslims away from being inspired in their political beliefs and actions by the faith of Islam.
“It is unfortunate that just when Britain’s 1.6 million Muslims are beginning to make progress in terms of their political participation in the mainstream, there are those who are trying to sabotage that process.
“It seems that to qualify as so-called ‘moderates’, Muslims are required to remain silent about Israeli crimes in Palestine, otherwise they are automatically labelled ‘extremists’.
“The MCB urges British Muslims to remain calm and vigilant in the face of recent concerted attempts being made by known hostile elements to divide them.”
The MCB has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson stating the documentary has a “pro-Israeli agenda”.
Yesterday it said quotes from Mehboob Kantharia, a former member of the MCB’s central working committee, were presented in a way that implied the MCB leadership was in a “state of denial” about extremism. It said Kantharia had informed the council his remarks on the matter did not mention the MCB at all and were not referring to the MCB.
The MCB said it made “no claims about perfection” and admitted it had “many shortcomings”. It said it was “deeply unfair” of Panorama not to mention that after the Madrid bombings last year the MCB sent a letter to every Islamic organisation and mosque in the country urging vigilance against the terror threat.
It added that Panorama’s focus on “foreign” influences on British Muslim organisations showed “little understanding” of the effects of recent migration and settlement on any community.
Panorama said it had spoken to a number of influential Muslims, including some in the MCB, who believe ideology from Pakistan still exerts an “undue influence” on the council.
The MCB is an umbrella organisation with more than 400 affiliated groups. They include the Birmingham-based Ahl-e-Hadith organisation . According to Panorama, one part of its website tells followers to “be different from Jews and Christians” whose “ways are based on sick or deviant views concerning their societies”.
Sacranie was strongly challenged over his decision to attend a memorial service at London’s Central Mosque for Sheikh Yassin, the ideological head of Palestinian terror group Hamas , who was assassinated by Israel.
Justifying his decision to attend the service, Sacranie told the programme: “In your terms, if it means fighting occupation is a terrorist movement, that is not a view that is being shared by many people.
“Those who fight oppression, those who fight occupation, cannot be termed as terrorist, they are freedom fighters, in the same way as Nelson Mandela fought against apartheid, in the same way as Ghandi and many others fought the British rule in India.”
He condemned suicide bombings by British Muslims anywhere and said there was no difference between the life of a Palestinian and the life of a Jew and all life was “sacred”.
Sacranie said there was a diversity of opinion and the MCB was not responsible for what some people preached.
Panorama presenter John Ware said he was not in any way suggesting the MCB was “in bed” with violent Islamists. However, he said: “I think [the MCB] is in denial about the extent that sectarianism can fuel, taken to its logical conclusions, violent Islamism.”