Hazel Blears’ standoff with Muslim Council overshadows new anti-terror launch

A standoff between the communities secretary, Hazel Blears, and the Muslim Council of Britain was said last night to “cut to the heart” of the government’s revised counter-terror strategy to challenge those who defend terrorism and violent extremism.

Blears has suspended official links with the MCB over allegations that its deputy general secretary endorsed a Hamas call for attacks on foreign troops, including possibly British troops, if they try to intercept arms smuggled into Gaza.

Blears last night pressed the MCB for further clarification after it distanced itself from a declaration calling for a new jihad over Gaza made by the Hamas-backed “global anti-aggression campaign” in Istanbul last month. The cabinet minister is still pressing the MCB’s deputy general secretary, Dr Daud Abdullah, who attended and signed the Istanbul declaration, to clarify his own position.

The dispute, involving a senior government minister and one of the most significant Muslim “umbrella” organisations, coincided with the launch of the Contest 2 counter-terror strategy and illustrated the determination of ministers to challenge radical views that fall short of support for violence but reject and undermine “our shared values”.

Guardian, 25 March 2009

See also “The government may be the only loser in this untimely dispute” by Madeleine Bunting.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail seizes the opportunity to attack the MCB:

Mail smears MCB