The Greater Manchester Muslim Community responds to the new report:

“Unlocking British Muslims Potential”

The Greater Manchester Muslim community welcomes the work of the commission led by former attorney general Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP around British Muslims. The comments of this commission are helpful in working towards improved community cohesion rather than the vilification of the Muslim community we have seen from some quarters in recent weeks.

The executive summary can be accessed here:http://www.citizensuk.org/missing_muslims

The comments of this commission are in stark contrast to those made by some Muslim figures in recent weeks, who have disparaged and ostracised the whole Muslim community further on matters of Integration, Prevent and sex grooming.

There are a number of key findings which we wish to highlight from the report:

• It highlights an increasing absence of Muslims from British civic society.

• An “us versus them” dialogue around the Muslim community produces a self-perpetuating cycle of separateness

• Integration is a “two way street” requiring both British Muslims and the majority white British population to find ways to engage. It is recognised that there is a wealth of positive community work undertaken by British Muslims that aid integration.

• Discrimination and/or the fears of being discriminated against are actively discouraging participation of Muslims within society – this needs to be actively tackled.

• Anti-Muslim prejudice and a lack of action against those perpetuating or condoning hatred is a significant obstacle to integration and participation.

We note that the committee put forward some important recommendations, these include:
• The Government to lead and adopt a clear definition of anti-Muslim prejudice, in a similar way to how anti –Semitism has been defined.

• Better partnerships between the Government and grass roots communities – the Government needs to cast a wider net when talking to British Muslim communities rather than boycotting certain organisations which are respected within the Muslim community.

• The need for Muslim women to be more involved in public life/civic society and become greater stakeholders within faith institutions.

• For the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) to consider providing guidance on accurate reporting on Muslims issues, ensuring that faith is not being conflated with extremism.

• A fresh approach in tackling extremism and a review of the Prevent strategy.

• Developing better leadership of some Muslim institutions; including the appointment of British educated Imams and ensuring basic voluntary governance standards are being met with Mosques and other faith institutions.

We welcome any opportunity to be part of the process to ensure Muslims and Islam are no longer absent from all mainstream and daily British life and welcome any constructive dialogue to make our communities and country a better and safer place for us all to live in.

We observe that some within the community have talked about the lack of representative leaders, it is puzzling therefore that these same individuals have openly put themselves forward as leaders with little if any accountability.

We call on the Government to have an open dialogue with representatives of the Muslim community, rather than the “usual suspects”. The Greater Manchester Muslim community has sought to support and be partners in matters concerning our communities – unfortunately we have not been offered that opportunity. We hope that this will now change.

Baroness Warsi has asked for the government to hit the “reset button” so that we may finally make the Muslim community a part of our society. We would also ask the government to be engaging in choosing any representatives should it look at having any committees or boards to drive some of these key areas.

Let us be clear we see ourselves as British and Muslim with no conflict, Islam is a partner and not a suspect. We will continue to do our part in making society a better place.

Qadir Cohan – Chair Manchester Council of Mosques commented “The Muslim community has sought to play its full role in making our communities better and we would welcome any constructive dialogue to improve the quality of life of all citizens.”

Tahir Mahmood, Chair – Rochdale Council of Mosques added “ This report is a timely reminder about some areas that have not been addressed and led to some mistrust and misunderstanding, The Muslim community has a great deal to contribute and should be given an opportunity to do so.”

Imteyaz Ali – Bolton Council Mosques said “There has been a constant cry from most of our community to engage constructively with the government and partners; we hope that the powers to be will finally take note and ensure Muslims are no longer absent from public life.”

Yousef Dar – Stockport Muslims commented “Muslims and Islam are a part of British society and must be afforded the opportunity like all others to contribute. Another key area that needs to be addressed is that of the daily discrimination faced by Muslims. There have been similar reports in the past, which have highlighted some if not most of these areas, let us hope we have finally arrived at a threshold moment where the government finally takes note and the penny drops.”

This statement is issued by the following organisations:

Manchester Council of Mosques: MCOM
Bolton Council of Mosques: BCoM
Rochdale Council of Mosques: RCM
Stockport Muslims
Oldham Mosques Council