Stephen also makes the point that the MCB will not be attending the “Holocaust Memorial Day”, where we commemorate the victims of Nazi genocide. This was always a sticking point for me; the MCB’s refusal to attend struck me as pure and untrammeled anti-semitism. Not anti-Zionism, because Holocaust Memorial Day has nothing to do with Israel, but anti-semitism.
However, a couple of points. The MCB has decided that it WILL attend the Holocaust Memorial Day, after a vote which followed The Spectator going to press last week. You might well argue that attendance should not be a fraught issue for anyone with a semblance of humanity and decency, regardless of their religion or ideology, but it HAS been a fraught issue for many Muslims and the MCB deserves a little spoonful of credit for swallowing its inherent racism and agreeing to attend. And as Stephen points out, it is also taking steps to ensure its block-headed boss is not allowed, constitutionally, to sign up to fanatical agitprop declarations which effectively require Muslims to attack Britain.
I’m in two minds about the MCB. If I’m honest, I don’t think the government should talk to any organization which claims, without democratic remit, to speak for an entire community of people. It is also true that sheltering beneath the MCB’s copious umbrella are some real badduns and that some of these badduns have close links to some of the leading lights within the organization.
But I have a lot of time for the MCB’s media secretary and spokesman Inayat Bunglawala, who seems a decent and fundamentally liberal chap and possessed of a bit of bravery, too. He’s changed his position on two crucial issues – Holocaust Memorial Day and Salman Rushdie, whom he now thinks should be left alone – which will have cost him some friends within his organization. You might well argue that both of these issues are so fundamental to our notions of democracy, freedom and decency that nobody should be afforded credit for supporting them. But this is to ignore (as the government does consistently, pretending not to notice) the enormous, profound ideological differences between Islam and the west. For all its faults, the MCB does seem to be changing, to be moving in the right direction. And at a time when the government is lashing out at individual Muslims it does not like and organizations with which it does not agree, it may be that we need a voice to support a minority which is coming under increasing attack.
Here’s a suggestion Inayat: get the MCB to put out a statement saying “The Istanbul Declaration is fucking stupid, and Daud was fucking stupid to have signed up to it.” Then we can all march on together.