Those criticising Hazel Blears for taking a stand against the Muslim Council of Britain might like to actually take a look at the Istanbul Statement that provoked the row
There have recently been signs of an encouraging shift in attitudes towards Islamism within sections of the British government. Though there are still plenty of insiders claiming that “non-violent” Islamists are our best defence against the violence that their ideology inspires in others, at least the error of this has been recognised by some.
But the shift is by no means complete, as the recent controversy surrounding the rift between the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, has shown. The MCB has long been a trusted partner of the government on the issue of extremism, presenting itself as an “umbrella organisation” that represents the majority of Muslims in Britain. Anyone who cares to look at the histories of some of the people making this bold claim, however, can see that what the MCB really represents (and always has) is the ideology of the prototypical Islamist movements, Jamaat e-Islami and the Muslim Brotherhood. All Ms Blears has done is to notice this.
In February, a conference of Islamists was held in Turkey by the dubiously-titled Global Anti-Aggression Campaign. It culminated in a jihadist proclamation now known as the Istanbul Statement, to which Dr Daud Abdullah, deputy director-general of the MCB, was one of 90 signatories.
When this came to her attention, Hazel Blears gave the MCB a choice: either force Dr Abdullah out, or forfeit its relationship with the government. The MCB stood by their man, so Ms Blears carried out her threat. She has drawn heavy criticism from a number of left-wing commentators, who appear not to have read or understood the statement itself.
Here are four extracts:
We affirm in full conviction that the Palestinian Authority, whose mandate is coming to an end, is not eligible to represent the Palestinian people. It stands outside the will of its people, and has given up the choice of jihad in the way of Allah…
We affirm in full conviction that the so-called Arab peace initiative is a proven betrayal of the Islamic Nation and the Palestinian cause…
[We affirm] the obligation of the Islamic Nation to find a fair formula of reconciliation between the sons of the Palestinian people…[that] will carry on with the jihad and Resistance against the occupier until the liberation of all of Palestine.
[We affirm] the obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.
If the message is not clear, compare it with these words:
The West is hostile to us on account of Loyalty [to fellow Muslims] and Enmity [towards non-Muslims], and jihad….What the West desires is that we abandon jihad. This is the very essence of the request and desire for of us. Do the intellectuals, then, think it’s actually possible for Muslims to abandon these two commandments simply to coexist with the West?
Who is this kindred spirit? It could have been just another signatory to the Istanbul Statement. It happens to be Osama bin-Laden.