Muslim Council accuses government of undermining independence

Britain’s largest Muslim body has accused ministers of wanting to “undermine its independence” by demanding one of its leaders be removed from office. The accusation is the strongest public attack yet by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in its row with the government after ministers broke off relations earlier this month.

Hazel Blears, the communities and local government minister, wrote to the MCB demanding the resignation of Daud Abdullah, its deputy secretary general, after he allegedly called for violence against Israel.

Today the MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala told the Guardian that the government only wanted to deal with Muslim groups who were “stooges” and “spineless”, and vowed the council would resist attempts to interfere in how it was run.

Bunglawala, who is close to the thinking of MCB leaders, told the Guardian: “We intend to resist the attempted government interference in the running of the MCB. The call on the MCB to force the resignation of Daud Abdullah is clearly unacceptable. It can be seen as an attempt to undermine the independence of the MCB.”

The MCB feels it has been increasingly attacked by the government for insisting Britain’s foreign policy is making the country a target for al-Qaida-inspired terrorism, with ministers preferring to talk to less critical groups such as the Quilliam Foundation, set up by the self-confessed former extremist Ed Hussain.

Bunglawala said: “We hope that Ms Blears does not look upon the MCB as being of the same spineless calibre as the Quilliam Foundation … who are widely viewed among British Muslims as being stooges of the government.”

Guardian, 26 March 2009