A prominent spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain has criticised the moderate Muslim organisers of a demonstration against extremism for attracting the support of Zionists and supporters of Israel.
Inayat Bunglawala of the MCB defended his attacks on British Muslims for Secular Democracy because leading members of the organisation opposed the wearing of the hijab and believed drinking was permitted in Islam. The chair of the organisation is Independent columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.
The row broke out over a demonstration to oppose the Islam4UK march by al-Muhajiroun, which was due to call for the introduction of an Islamic state and sharia law in Britain. The march was cancelled at the last moment on October 31.
Mr Bunglawala, who regularly appears in the British media as the representative of the MCB, was vocal in his condemnation of Islam4UK march. He even established a new organisation, Muslims4UK, to oppose the extremists. His actions were praised at the time by Ed Husain of the anti-extremist Quilliam Foundation.
In emails seen by the JC, Mr Bunglawala assured some Muslim activists that he was opposed to Alibhai-Brown's organisation.
On October 26 Mr Bunglawala sent an email to the Islamic Society of Britain and Young Muslims group on Yahoo which said: “I have received some emails from people concerned that British Muslims for Secular Democracy (whose chair opposes the wearing of the hijab, openly admits to drinking alcohol etc) are also demonstrating. Muslims4UK will be completely separate from them and will have our own area, banners and placards, insh’Allah”.
Four days later he sent a second email said: “The BMSD — whose leading members advocate that Muslim schoolgirls should be forbidden from wearing the hijab and believe there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol in Islam — have naturally attracted the support of Zionists like Mel P, Harry’s Place and the Spittoon blog [Mel P is a reference to the JC columnist Melanie Phillips; Harry’s Place and Spittoon are blogs which often cover the subject of radical Islam].
Mr Bunglawala continued: “Muslims4UK have spoiled that little plan of theirs, Alhamdulillah!”
Ms Alibhai-Brown said: “I do say young pre-pubescent girls should not be covered up, and that the fact that I drink wine is my own business.”
A spokeswoman for BMSD said the organisation was “really disappointed” by Mr Bunglawala’s response. “We are an impeccably non-sectarian organisation. We invited Inayat to join the demonstration in good faith. We were therefore surprised to discover that he had asked for a separate pen to protest in.”
Mr Bunglawala confirmed to the JC that he had asked for a separate area to demonstrate, away from the BMSD.
He added: “BMSD have almost zero support in UK mosques and Islamic institutions which is not very surprising given that their chair openly drinks alcohol and sees nothing wrong with that! Even a young Muslim child is aware that drinking alcohol is forbidden in Islam.
“The only support BMSD appear to attract seems to be from pro-Israeli groups. That itself is very telling.”