The Muslim Council of Britain is the main representative body of British Muslims with a membership based of over 380 grass-roots community organisations, mosques, professional bodies and cultural associations. This network provides an outreach to 70% of the 1.6 million Muslims in England, Wales and Scotland. The MCB is a broad-based organisation and its affiliated members represent the social and ethnic diversity of the community. It is a voluntary association and non-profit-making.
The MCB’s purpose is to promote and facilitate the participation and engagement of Muslims in mainstream society, thereby aiming to achieve community cohesion and social harmony for all, through a better articulation of needs, the dissemination of good practice and through building forward-looking leadership at all levels of the community.
The MCB is guided by a Constitution and has elected office bearers accountable to a General Assembly that meets annually and comprises delegates of its affiliated bodies. Although a relatively young umbrella body, the MCB is rapidly evolving in terms of improved institutional processes and corporate governance procedures.
In a period of six years since its establishment the MCB has emerged as a voice that has earned trust and credibility within the Muslim community. It has forged mechanisms for consulting community leaders and organisations, disseminating information, communicating with the media, campaigning for new or changed legislation and engaging with a variety of mainstream institutions including government and civil society.
It advocates the full participation of British Muslims in mainstream society, and some of its recent activities in this regard include:
- Submission of evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Religious Offences (2002)
- Support for the BBC Islam UK season 2002 and the production of the accompanying BBC booklet
- Participation in the ‘The Independent Review of Coroner Services’ (published June 2003)
- Development of a code of good practice in collaboration with Fleet Street journalists so that the coverage of Islam does not risk stirring up prejudices that hurt law-abiding Muslims and damage community relations (in progress)
- Advice to the Armed Forces on issues relating to the religious requirements of Muslim personnel
- Regular meetings with political parties (through fringe events that the MCB organises during Party Conferences), trade unions (a guest speaker at the MCB’s conference ‘Building Communities, Building Bridges’ in July 2001, Manchester, was Duncan Edward of the GMB; Sir Bill Morris has attended MCB receptions)
- Through participation of Secretary General Iqbal Sacranie in the World Economic Forum’s Davos meeting, the MCB has established contact with business leaders in multinationals (whose UK subsidiaries will be key players in the adoption of good practices relating to employee rights)
- Formal membership of government and other consultative committees including: ‘Review of Government’s Interface with faith communities’, chaired by Fiona McTaggart MP, Home Office Minister responsible for Race Equality, Community Policy, and Civil Renewal; Race Equality Advisory Panel; Inner Cities Religious Council; ‘Safe Communities Initiative’ of the Commission for Racial Equality; ‘Connecting Muslims’ consultation with the Chair, Equal Opportunities Unit; the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Hajj Advisory Group; the Bank of England working party on Islamic home finance.
The MCB has an administrative staff and a project officer based at offices in Stratford in London. Consultants are employed for specific assignments. A great deal of our work is undertaken by volunteers working on an unpaid basis through a structure of specialist committees.
The MCB’s annual general meeting (held in April/May) is attended by 350 -400 delegates and observers. These provide opportunities for consultation, information dissemination and obtaining feedback. The MCB also organises specialist conferences on topical issues, such as the ‘Building Communities, Building Bridges’ event held in Manchester in the wake of the troubles in the Northern Cities in Summer 2001, that provided a forum for youth to express their concerns and establish a dialogue with local Police representatives. A comprehensive round-up of its work is provided in the MCB’s fortnightly e-newsletter – an archive is available on the MCB web site.
The MCB Structure
Click to enlarge