Joint statement: divisive study for divisive ends

British Muslim students have long contributed to the success of Britain. Muslim students have gone on to become doctors, business people and public servants, and all have been part of making Britain the vibrant society that it is today. ‘Islam on Campus’ a survey published on Sunday that supposedly charts UK student opinion is silent on this, just as it is silent on seeking positive good practise examples of British Muslims reaching out, seeking the common good.

The latest report on British Muslim students by the Centre for Social Cohesion serves only to strengthen bigots and demagogues keen to sow discord amongst British people. The authors of the report cannot hide behind a purportedly scientific survey to justify their own agenda of creating anything but cohesion in society. We refer to more concrete polling data that illustrate the commitment British Muslims have to British society and the people around them. The authors cite their unsatisfactory sampling to extrapolate ideological and biased conclusions to serve their own divisive ends.

We are a cross-section of British people who believe in the importance of meaningful social cohesion, where British people from all backgrounds and persuasions can live together without maligning each other. The Centre for Social Cohesion is opposed to this, and we reject their conclusions utterly.

We do not deny that the terror threat is serious, nor do we object to the notion that separatism and bigotry should be challenged, including from within the Muslim community. However the report incorrectly ascribes guilt by tenuous association with those national Muslim organisations who have been firm and innovative on both counts. Moreover, these organisations are theologically diverse, and yet the study insinuates that they favour one Islamic tradition over another.

The report reserves a lot of its fire for the Islamic student societies that operate from campus up and down the country. We find it curious, therefore, that the report sought qualitative opinions from only twelve Islamic student societies, yet there are scores of Muslim student bodies in the UK – hardly a representative sample. Islamic societies have done much to engage Muslim students with the mainstream. The study could have cited, for example, those Islamic societies that worked in partnership with those Jewish student societies to bring about greater understanding.

A report like this can only create discord amongst us. It has already done so with incendiary headlines such as ‘Muslim students back killings‘. Muslim students do not back killings, they are not separatist, they are British and very much part of our vibrant society.

Signed by:

Wes Streeting – President, National Union of Students
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari – Secretary General, The Muslim Council of Britain
Pav Akhtar – National Race Equality Officer, UNISON
Khurshid Ahmad – Chairman, British Muslim Forum
Milena Buyum – Vice-Chair, National Assembly Against Racism
Ahmad al-Rawi – Muslim Association of Britain
Faisal Hanjra – President, FOSIS

See also Joint Statement Between Islamic Societies and FOSIS in Response to Islam on Campus Report.