I have decided to make a special post about this because it is a very significant event. For years now people have been complaining that the government is dealing with the MCB even though it is a) radical and b) unrepresentative. Today Ruth Kelly signaled that the government has decided to stop dealing with them.
She was giving a speech to Muslim leaders, the MCB decided not to attend. Here are some highlights from her speech:
It is not good enough to merely sit on the sidelines or pay lip service to fighting extremism. That is why I want a fundamental rebalancing of our relationship with Muslim organisations from now on.....
There are some people who don't feel it right to join in the commemorations of Holocaust Memorial Day even though it has helped raise awareness not just of the Jewish Holocaust, but also more contemporary atrocities like the Rwanda genocide.As I pointed out below, the result of this boycott has been that while knowledge of the Holocaust in Britain is generally extremely high (94% have heard of Auschwitz), amongst Muslims it is pathetically low (only 29% accept that it happened as we know it to have done and 23% say they've never heard of it!)
I can't help wondering why those in leadership positions who say they want to achieve religious tolerance and a cohesive society would choose to boycott an event which marks, above all, our common humanity and respect for each other.
She also complained that "mistakes [by police] have sometimes been seized on by some to falsely suggest that the police are the enemy rather than the terrorists".
Dr Bari, the general secretary of the MCB, responded that "every organisation has the right to apply for government funding - but agreeing with government policy should not be a criteria for receiving that money".
While he is correct that he has the right to ask for money, he is not correct in assuming that he has a right to receive that money.