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“. . . We are a broad-based organisation interested in celebrating the successes of our diverse Muslim community while challenging the common threats facing all of us.

While we have not been established to operate solely within the narrow and often corrosive confines of ‘counter-extremism’, our affiliates realise that real challenges exist, as we see with Muslim families broken up as a number of children, mothers and fathers leave to travel to Syria.

Reflecting the wishes of a cross-section of British Muslim society, our affiliates have directed the MCB to explore a grass-roots led response to the challenge of terrorism.

The Muslim Council of Britain accordingly began a nationwide exercise to engage communities and build a response that we can all buy into. Thus far, consultative events have been held in Scotland, the Midlands and at a national conference in London. The MCB leadership has also met with a range of stakeholders from activists, academics and practitioners, as well as ordinary Muslims up and down the country.

We hope to publish the outcome of this process next year.

Half-way through this process, we can report that our communities overwhelmingly believe that the best way to tackle violent extremists is to demonstrate that British Muslims are part and parcel of British life.

At forums across the country there has been a widespread concern that Muslims are singled out as potential extremists.

Having Muslims pass subjective and discriminatory counter-extremism litmus tests, as a condition of engagement, only re-enforces the terrorists’ narrative.

The Prevent strategy exacerbates this problem and it is quite clear that it does not currently have the support of many within British Muslim communities across the UK and has been widely criticised by academics and practitioners, yet the threat of terrorism is real and severe. Many ideas have been put forward on what communities and government should do together to confront and preempt terrorism. These we hope to detail in our final report.

But there seems to be a consensus in Muslim communities that our security services and police must always bear ultimate responsibility to keep our nation safe and secure. We are grateful to the security services and police for their tireless efforts in keeping us all safe. Their work should be evidence-based, and focussed on the real threats such as support for terrorism, or travel to aid terrorists abroad.’ click here.

Image acknowledgement: MCB, showing Secretary General Harun Khan and Deputy Secretary General Dr Omer El-Hamdoon

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