Muslims snub drive against BNP

By James Martin, June 18, 2009

The Muslim Council of Britain has been criticised for not supporting a multi-faith initiative designed to formulate a co-ordinated response to the BNP.

Muslim interfaith activist Fiyaz Mughal is upset at the non-attendance of MCB representatives at a meeting held under the aegis of Faith Matters at Westminster last Friday.

Mr Mughal — the Faith Matters director who was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours — had invited 25 “key figures” from ethnic and religious groups to discuss the way forward after the BNP had taken two seats in the European elections.

The absence of MCB delegates was “disappointing because this was an opportunity to learn from other communities about dealing with a common enemy,” he said.

“This includes creating strategic alliances with the Jewish community so we can form a united response.”

Among those who participated in a lengthy “brainstorming” session were officials from the Board of Deputies, the Three Faiths Forum, the Community Security Trust and the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism. There were also representatives from the Polish, Sikh and Muslim communities.

Mr Mughal said that “an affiliation of individuals committed to fighting racism and the BNP” would be created to work with mainstream parties and educate voters about the BNP.

Phil Rosenberg, interfaith officer at the Board of Deputies, said: “There’s no room for parochialism. We need to send out a clear message that the BNP are a real threat to everyone. They work by feeding off existing tensions within a community, like worms in a hole.
“At present, our election campaigning focuses on the Jewish community.
“If we can lend our experience to help other groups carry the fight throughout the country, then that is positive for everyone.”

An MCB spokesman said he was unaware of the invitation.

He indicated that the council would consider becoming involved in the initiative if approached by the Board of Deputies.

Last updated: 2:15pm, June 18 2009