Board distances itself from Muslim Council of Britain over Muslim Brotherhood ‘links’

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Board distances itself from Muslim Council of Britain over Muslim Brotherhood ‘links’

Chair of the MCB, chair Dr Shuja Shafi
Chair of the MCB, chair Dr Shuja Shafi

The Board of Deputies has distanced itself from the Muslim Council of Britain after the latter was found to have links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Chair of the MCB, chair Dr Shuja Shafi
Secretary General of the MCB, chair Dr Shuja Shafi

Jewish community leaders this week clarified that they had “no formal relationship” with their Muslim peers and that they only worked together on joint statements last year because of the backlash against Israel over Gaza.

“Summer 2014 was a highly special situation when it was necessary to take effective steps to clamp down on anti-Semitism,” said Board President Jonathan Arkush. 

“We said at the time that the Board had no links with MCB but that unusual times called for unusual measures. The position generally is that the Board has no formal relationship with the MCB but maintains contacts with individuals where a positive impact can be achieved.”

Deputies voted overwhelmingly for a controversial joint statement with the MCB at the height of the Gaza conflict, with then-president Vivian Wineman saying: “We felt we had to do something”.

Prime Minister David Cameron has been under pressure from some Gulf monarchies to ban the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist organisation which is now banned in Egypt, after its elected leaders were overthrown in a military coup. 

Cameron’s own internal review, led by Sir John Jenkins and published last week, found that the Brotherhood should not be banned as a terrorist organisation, but that membership of it was “a possible indicator of extremism”.

It also found that the MCB, which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations, has close ties to some Muslim Brotherhood supporters who have been “politically active” in places like Israel and the Palestinian territories. 

The Brotherhood, which was founded in 1928, has strongly condemned the terrorist attacks by individuals acting in the name of Allah, but has been accused by the prime minister of extremism. Its founding charter says it aims to “purify” then “unify Muslim societies in a Caliphate under Sharia law”. 

This week a spokesman for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) said the prime minister’s decision not to ban the group was “astonishing,” adding: “The Government’s Counter Extremism Strategy must involve not only fighting those who commit extremist acts, but also those who support and encourage extremism.”

Secretary General of the MCB, Dr Shuja Shafi, posted an update on the MCB website which reads: “The report follows a government review which makes unsubstantiated and unfounded assertions about the MCB.”

He said in said the alleged links were “a mystery” in a letter written in The Times . “We have consistently opposed and challenged terrorism and we dispute any suggestion that because we organise ourselves as Muslims, and participate in our country’s democratic and civic traditions, we somehow sympathise or nurture extremists. “

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