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30 August 2006

Muslim Council 'not doing enough to stamp out extremism'

medium_protestorsPA070606_228x168.jpgBritain's leading Muslim organisation is not doing enough to root out anti-Western extremism, eight out of ten people believe. A new opinion poll day suggests an overwhelming majority think the Muslim Council of Britain should do more to tackle dangerous radicalism in young Muslims.

The survey, carried out for PR Week magazine, found 78 per cent of people overall, rising to nearly 90 per cent of over-55s, strongly agreed the organisation was not doing enough.

It also found people were split almost 50/50 on whether the organisation was tolerant of Western culture and practices.

Four out of ten of the 1,000 people surveyed thought the MCB was not doing enough to uphold the Muslim faith.

Fifty-four per cent thought the Muslim community needs better representation than it gets from the organisation, but only 36 per cent thought it should continue to qualify for Government funding.

The MCB is an umbrella organisation set up in 1997 to represent more than 250 Muslim organisations from all parts of the UK.

It has since established itself as the prominent mouthpiece for the moderate Muslim communities.

Its aim is to 'promote cooperation, consensus and unity on Muslim affairs in the UK'.

The MCB has accepted that British Muslims have a 'crucial' role to play in combating extremist ideas.

But it argues the Government should also accept responsibility for giving extremists 'causes to exploit'.

A recent poll of British Muslim opinion found that more than half blamed the Government for failing to combat extremism.

Some 13 per cent viewed the July 7 bombers' actions as heroic and 16 per cent said that while the attacks - which claimed 52 innocent lives - may have been wrong, their cause was right.

More than half believed Britain's involvement in the Iraq war was the main reason for the London bombings, and that more suicide bomb attacks in the UK were likely.

A spokesman for the MCB said he was disappointed by the poll's findings.

'I don't think many people actually know what the MCB does,' he said. 'I'm not sure, for example, how many realise we are working with police to produce half a million pocket guides to go out to young Muslims to promote a new anti-terror hotline number.

'And we have repeatedly said that Muslims have a duty to inform police if know anything about a terrorist plot - not just a legal duty, but also an Islamic obligation.

'At the same time, we are not a law enforcement body. It's undoubtedly true that in recent years some Muslims have become so radicalised that they are prepared to contemplate murdering fellow citizens.

'The question we need to answer is what has contributed to that phenomenon. After all, we never saw this happening in the 1970s, 80s and 90s when Muslims were here in large numbers.

'Is it imams, is it preachers on back streets, is it the Internet, is it Government policy? We called for a public inquiry in the wake of the July 7 bombings to examine these questions but the Government has not agreed to hold one.'

The spokesman said the MCB received no regular Government funding, but made bids for help with individual projects like other faith groups.



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