Attacks on the MCB are unacceptable

The attack on mainstream Muslim organisations this week in the wake of the document prepared for the Conservative party by Pauline Neville-Jones and the speech by David Cameron has been deeply damaging. Cameron’s speech equates the British National party with British Muslim organisations who want to separate Muslims from the mainstream. He did not name any groups directly. But his words and the Tory policy-review document combined have led to a maelstrom aimed at the Muslim Council of Britain, among others. On BBC News on Monday, for instance, Mark Easton reported: “Tonight the author of the report confirmed to me that they are likening the Muslim Council and the British National party.”

This comparison is false. The MCB calls for British Muslims to carry out only legal and peaceful activity and is opposed to racism. With over 400 affiliates, it is a body of Muslims in Britain which must be engaged with by decision-makers. Fascism is an ideology in whose name millions were murdered on the basis of their race or beliefs. Such comparisons legitimise the BNP. We note that David Cameron claims there are “five Berlin walls of division” but fails to list racism among them. The unnecessary attacks this week on the MCB and the exclusion of racism as an issue that has to be addressed are unacceptable.

Brendan Barber
General secretary, TUC
Sadiq Khan MP
Ken Livingstone
Mayor of London
Cristina Odone

Letter in Guardian, 2 February 2007