Who speaks for Muslims?

The Guardian (January 30, 2015) carries an extensive article unpacking the challenging subtleties about the all important question of Muslim identity in Western European nations.

It is a sound and balanced article. Its content will help thinking people understand some of the challenges and complexities involved in working together for the good of our nations, and creating effective responses and prevention against violence and terror.

The Muslim Council of Britain represents 500 mosques, schools and charities – but the government won’t talk to it. Its elected leader Shuja Shafi explains why such choices mean the ‘trust deficit’ is growing

Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain

 Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Photograph: Martin Godwin

This lengthy article offers important observations such as:

Who speaks for Britain’s Muslims? The question is often asked, and never more loudly than when British Muslims are being asked to condemn another terrorist attack or prove how British they are. There is no equivalent of the chief rabbi or archbishop of Canterbury for Muslims, and silence can be misconstrued as an endorsement of extremism. There isn’t silence – a huge number of Muslims repeatedly speak out, but their voices are lost in the din, while the press wheels out the wackier fringe elements to speak on behalf of three million people.


This month, following the terror attacks in Paris, communities secretary Eric Pickles wrote to more than 1,000 Islamic leaders asking for help dealing with radicalisation and “to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country”. Shafi is not happy about the letter, although he seems just as angry that the MCB wasn’t sent the letter as he is about its contents. “I’m sure it was done with good intentions, but writing to 1,000 imams and organisations but not to an organisation that represents a large number of other organisations [the MCB], when you’ve got the BBC or other media ringing up because we are, like it or not, the first port of call, is strange.”

As said this is a long article, but an important read for any involved in addressing the current challenges involving Islam and “the West.”

Read the entire article here

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