In a letter published in Pink News, the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism has rejected Outrage’s claim that Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain was dropped from the Unite Against Fascism conference on 18 February.
Outrage’s assertion that Sir Iqbal Sacranie pulled out of or that he was ‘dumped’ by Unite Against Fascism from Saturday’s conference is completely untrue. Sir Iqbal had another engagement and the Muslim Council of Britain instead sent Dr Daud Abdullah, their Assistant General Secretary, who was warmly received by all the delegates.
As part of a very broad and inclusive array of speakers, the conference was also addressed by a number of representatives of the lesbian and gay community including Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive of Stonewall, REGARD, the organisation of disabled lesbians and gay men, Imaan, the LGBT Muslim support group, the Black Women’s representative of the NUS LGBT campaign and a representative of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism.
These organisations and others also signed a statement disagreeing with Sir Iqbal’s views, but articulating the need for an alliance with all religious communities against the threat posed by fascism, and in particular with communities who are on the front line of the BNP’s campaigns of hate.
In doing so, they reject Outrage’s position that the anti-fascist movement should not involve the Muslim Council of Britain. The MCB is a representative umbrella organisation of 450 Muslim groups. Moreover Muslim communities have been on the sharp end of BNP race hate campaigns.
To exclude the MCB from the anti-fascist movement would not only be to strike a blow against the unity and inclusion that our movement needs, but would be to abandon vulnerable communities at the very moment that the BNP are making advances by attacking Muslims. Where they make advances and gain council seats, incidents of homophobia increase.
Outrage’s divisive demand is completely opposed to the strategy of the anti-fascist movement. Moreover this attack is part of a disproportionate attack on Muslims. It is racist to single out the Muslim community, when most religious leaders are reactionary on homosexuality.
The majority of Lesbian and Gay communities understand that dialogue is the only way to overcome these views. The MCB also issued a statement welcoming working with the lesbian and gay community: “British Muslims welcome working with everyone including members of the Lesbian and Gay community against a common enemy, fascism.”
Furthermore, it is absurd and offensive to compare a religious leader’s views to those of the fascists, who do not merely have homophobic prejudices but stand for the annihilation of millions of people, including Lesbian and Gay people, and the total destruction of all democratic freedoms and human rights.
It is because the BNP stands in the tradition of the evil of the Nazi Holocaust that the anti-fascist movement understands that it threatens all our rights and, despite differences – which must be debated and hopefully will be overcome – that the movement must be open to all who oppose the BNP.
Outrage’s ‘support’ for Unite Against Fascism did not even stretch as far as attending the conference on February 18th, so it is unsurprising that they were not aware of the facts around the MCB speaking. It appears that they are more interested in grabbing headlines with press releases, than seriously addressing the rise of the far right, or indeed, the need to tackle homophobia within the anti-fascist movement.
Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism