Muslim Council of Britain – Tony Blair’s Extremists
Founded in November 1997, the Muslim Council of Britain has long had the patronage of the UK government. It claims to represent at least 400 Muslim groups in Britain, and thus has been taken seriously by politicians and civil servants. As an unelected body representing only a fraction of the 3% of the nation's Muslims, its influence upon the elected Blair government has been disproportionate.
Last year, the MCB had argued for Blair to modify the almost obsolete 1697 Blasphemy Act, to include blasphemy against Islam as a crime. Blair obliged by introducing an "Incitement to Religious Hatred Act", which would have outlawed criticism of any religion, and given a maximum seven-year jail term for anyone guilty of "words or behavior intended or likely to stir up religious hatred". Note the word "likely" - the Bill removed any need to prove intent.
This bill, despite being against democratic principles of free speech, was pushed through the Lower House of Parliament in June, and then sent on to the Upper House (the Lords). Less than a month after the Commons passed this bill, four Muslims blew up themselves and 52 others on London Transport. The Bill was defeated by the House of Lords on October 25, 2005 by a majority of 149, and was only passed after its main points were removed.
The government had been considering outlawing the custom of forced marriage since October 2004. Each year, at least 250 young British Muslim girls are taken abroad, and forced to marry against their will. The MCB argued that children would have to give evidence against their parents, and claimed that such trials would “stigmatize” the Muslim community. As a result, the government announced in June that it had abandoned its plans. Muslim sensibilities were more important than the human rights of Muslim girls.
For a body to have such unprecedented influence upon the government, it could be assumed that the MCB is a paragon of virtue. This is not the case, and the MCB does not even represent the majority of British Muslims. Like CAIR, it is an organ of political Islam, intent on changing the politics of Britain. The government has encouraged them without question.
One of the founders of the MCB is Mehboob Kantharia, who was on its Central Working Committee from 1997 to 2004. He has since left the group. Last year he said that within the MCB is a faction that is anti-British, and anti-Islam. On the MCB’s attitudes toward extremism, he said: “A lot of them still live in a state of denial. It is my personal belief that because they are in this state of denial, they cannot become… forthright about wanting to do something about the kind of extremism that prevails.”
The MCB is overtly political, even though most UK Muslims are of the apolitical Sufi strand of Islam. With the MCB failing to represent their viewpoints, on July 19, this year, the Sufi Muslim Council of Britain was formed. This group represents at least 300 mosques, but was condemned by the MCB as “divisive”.
Though the MCB publicly condemns extremism, its leading figures all have histories of encouraging extremism. Its last secretary general was Iqbal Sacranie, who headed MCB from 2004 to 2006. He is 55 years old. As a younger man, he was a leader of the campaigns against Salman Rushdie’s book “The Satanic Verses”. As a result of the publicity given by Sacranie and his associates, on February 14, 1989 Ayatollah Khomeini issued his notorious death-fatwa against Rushdie.
Sacranie said of Rushdie on the day of the fatwa: “Death, perhaps, is a bit too easy for him… his mind must be tormented for the rest of his life unless he asks for forgiveness to Almighty Allah.”
In 1996, the extremist group Al-Mujahiroun invited Osama bin Laden to Britain, to attend a “Rally for Revival”. The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned the move, but Sacranie responded with the comment: “The Board of Deputies of British Jews should seriously consider what action they take on this matter because of the detrimental effect on community relations which could result. Taking a hostile view towards scholars who wish to come to this country to present their points of view at a conference will not serve good community relations."
By this time, bin Laden was known to be a militant, yet for Sacranie he was a “scholar”. In January last year, Melanie Phillips asked Sacranie about how his proposed “Incitement to Religious Hatred” bill would affect comments about Muslim terrorism. Sacranie responded by saying: “There is no such thing as an Islamic terrorist. This is deeply offensive. Saying Muslims are terrorists would be covered by this provision.”
Sacranie was knighted last June, in the 2005 Queen’s Birthday honors list. Salman Rushdie responded in August that “If Sir Iqbal Sacranie is the best Blair can offer in the way of a good Muslim, we have a problem. The Sacranie case illustrates the weakness of the Blair government's strategy of relying on traditional, essentially orthodox Muslims to help eradicate Islamist radicalism.”
Sacranie has praised Hamas suicide bombers as “freedom fighters”, and has called Ahmad Yassin, the founder of Hamas “the renowned Islamic scholar”. The MCB has consistently refused to partake in Holocaust Memorial Day celebrations, but Sacranie found time to attend a memorial service for Sheikh Yassin, held at the Regents Park Mosque.
In the Observer last August, Martin Bright noted that the MCB “has its origins in the extreme orthodox politics in Pakistan.” He noted that both Sacranie and another key player in the MCB, Inayat Bunglawala, held the views of Syed Abul Ala Maududi in high regard. Maududi (1903-1979) wrote on how Islam should be a political force, and in 1941 he founded Pakistan’s radical party Jamaat-e-Islami. His ideas influenced Sayyid Qutb, ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Pakistan, Jamaat-e-Islami seeks to establish sharia law. In Bangladesh, the party is linked to the terrorist organization Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) whose leaders are awaiting execution for their bombing campaigns. Maududi called all non-Muslims “barbarians” and wrote that “the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution”.
Sacranie said: “Yes there is a following for Maududi in the UK. I am not a scholar, but in many areas I am inspired by what he has to say and in others I am not.”
Inayat Bunglawala said: “Maududi is a very important Muslim thinker. The book that brought me to practice Islam was Now Let Us Be Muslims by Maududi.”
Bunglawala called Osama bin Laden a “freedom fighter” in April 2001. In January 1993 he also called Omar Abdel Rahman “courageous”, a month before the blind sheikh bombed the World Trade Center. Despite his support for fanatics, in September last year, Bunglawala was part of a government taskforce charged to work out a strategy against extremism. Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood) has been denied entry to the US for funding terrorism. Yet Ramadan, who is not even a British citizen, was also invited to sit on this government taskforce.
In August last year, a brown paper envelope was sent to Martin Bright, containing a set of documents leaked from the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The documents showed how the government was deliberately engaging with the Muslim Brotherhood, and also showed how the MCB were being allowed to influence government policy. The documents can be found in a pdf file HERE.
After the 7/7 suicide bombings in London, BBC journalist John Ware presented a documentary called “A Question of Leadership”. A transcript of the show can be found HERE, and the documentary (40 minutes long) can be viewed HERE.
Even before the program was broadcast, Inayat Bunglawala was denouncing it, and saying that the BBC was “pro-Israel”. Sacranie condemned the documentary. Details of Ware’s investigation showed that the MCB was far from the “moderate” group it proclaimed itself to be.
MCB had included in its affiliate groups Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, which has 41 branches in Britain. Its website advocated that “The disbelievers are misguided and their ways based on sick or deviant views concerning their societies, their universe and their very existence.”
In June this year, the new secretary general of the MCB was announced. This man is Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, who is chairman of the East London Mosque, which was built with donations from Saudi Arabia. Last year, when he was the deputy secretary general of the MCB, Bari was asked by Ware why he had invited the imam at the Grand Mosque at Mecca to the East London Mosque. In June this year, the new secretary general of the MCB was announced. This man is Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, who is chairman of the East London Mosque, which was built with donations from Saudi Arabia. Last year, when he was the deputy secretary general of the MCB, Bari was asked by Ware why he had invited the imam at the Grand Mosque at Mecca to the East London Mosque.
This imam, Sheikh Abdulrahman al-Sudais (also spelled Sudeis or Sudayyis), has frequently condemned Jews. He has said: “Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers... the scum of the human race 'whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs...' These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption..” In another sermon, Sudais has called Jews “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs..”
John Ware asked Bari: "Do I take it that if you were satisfied he had said such things you would not have invited him over?" Bari answered: “"Well of course if it was proved that he exactly said this thing that you mentioned then why do you invited people who would be saying like this?"
Since coming to power as head of the MCB, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari has shown his support for extremists. In July this year, Bari welcomed war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to the East London Mosque. Sayeedi is a Bangladeshi member of Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami. Since coming to power as head of the MCB, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari has shown his support for extremists. In July this year, Bari welcomed war criminal Delwar Hossain Sayeedi to the East London Mosque. Sayeedi is a Bangladeshi member of Maududi’s Jamaat-e-Islami.
In December last year in Bangladesh, Aman Ullah, a JMB terrorist was telling reporters of the links of Sayeedi and Jamaat-e-Islami to his terror group. Ullah’s police handlers intervened, saying: “Why don't you ask him about Indian intelligence agency RAW and his visit to India instead of asking him about Sayeedi?”Sayeedi has called Hindus excrement and has said that US soldiers in Iraq should convert to Islam or die, as well as other examples of hate speech. During Bangladesh’s war for liberation from Pakistan, Sayeedi supplied young Bengali girls, abducted from villages, to the Pakistani military.Sayeedi has a history of causing trouble in the UK. In 1999, he said that 90% of Muslim women were involved in illicit relationships. In 2000, his supporters beat up five Bangladeshi elders. In London, his thugs attacked three individuals, including an elderly man.
The only reason for inviting Sayeedi to the East London Mosque is because of Bangladesh-born Muhammad Abdul Bari’s support for Jamaat-e-Islami. Even though Eric Taylor, who is India Pakistan Relations Desk Officer, South Asia Group at the UK Foreign Office, warned that Sayeedi should not be allowed entry to Britain, his warnings were ignored by Mockbul Ali, the young Islamist at the Foreign Office, who awarded him a visa.The only reason for inviting Sayeedi to the East London Mosque is because of Bangladesh-born Muhammad Abdul Bari’s support for Jamaat-e-Islami. Even though Eric Taylor, who is India Pakistan Relations Desk Officer, South Asia Group at the UK Foreign Office, warned that Sayeedi should not be allowed entry to Britain, his warnings were ignored by Mockbul Ali, the young Islamist at the Foreign Office, who awarded him a visa.
On August 12, the MCB was among several groups that signed a public document. This threatened the government that, if it did not change its foreign policy (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan), there will be terrorism on British soil.In the hands of Muhammad Abdul Bari, the MCB will continue to foster conflict within Britain’s Muslim communities. Sadly, the MCB, which has constantly criticized Britain’s terror laws, its police and its media, will continue to exert an undue influence upon the policies of Britain’s Labour Government.