A second leading Muslim group bankrolled by the taxpayer is poised to have its Government links severed in a bitter row over extremism. The Mosques and Imams National Advisory Body, a central plank of Labour’s anti-extremism strategy, has been dragged into the dispute.
Yesterday, the Mail told how the Muslim Council of Britain’s links with ministers had been suspended over its refusal to condemn Daud Abdullah for signing a declaration which advocated attacks on the Navy if it tried to stop arms intended for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza.
Now it has emerged that Dr Abdullah is also a member of MINAB’s steering group. Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has ruled ministers will have no further contact with MINAB – which has received £174,000 of public money – until action is taken against Dr Abdullah, who is also deputy secretary-general of the MCB.
Mrs Blears’ stance against both the MCB and MINAB, which is supposed to ensure there are moderate voices in Britain’s mosques, is part of a determination in Government to take a tougher position against those who advocate extremist views.
But last night, Paul Goodman, Tory spokesman on communities, said: “It’s deeply worrying that a body set up to promote moderation has been penetrated by a man who doesn’t deny support for attacks on British troops. There must be zero tolerance of attacks on our armed forces.”
So the government has broken off relations with another representative Muslim organisation. Now that really is an intelligent approach to “preventing extremism”, isn’t it? Those within the Muslim communities who have argued that engagement with mainsteam politics is futile will be able to point to Blears’ stupidities as evidence of how right they were.
But then, why should that bother Hazel Blears? She has succeeded in raising her profile as the standard bearer of the Labour right and furthered her leadership ambitions, which is the whole point of the exercise.
Though the break with MINAB isn’t exactly news. Three days ago Ruth Gledhill reported: “when I was speaking to the DCLG today clear signal was that if Dr Abdullah does not reject support for Hamas, which refuses to recognise the existence of Israel, or is not sacked as deputy director general of the MCB, then Minab’s funding will be in jeopardy.”