James Forsyth

The government doesn’t know what to do about the Muslim Council of Britain’s boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day

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On Monday, The Guardian reported that the Muslim Council of Britain has boycotted the “Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration in protest at the Israeli offensive in Gaza this month”. This was a big deal as the government had made clear that attendance at Holocaust Memorial Day was a “significant factor” in the government’s view as to whether the MCB had become more moderate or not.

On Monday lunchtime, I called the Department of Communities and Local Government and asked for a comment. On Tuesday morning, I received this statement:

"Officials here are due to meet representatives of the Muslim Council of Britain in the coming days. At that meeting the issue of their non attendance at the Holocaust Memorial Day will be discussed.”

Additionally on Thursday morning, the Labour MP and Minister Shahid Malik had a letter published in The Guardian criticising the MCB over the issue. But later that day in the Commons, Sadiq Khan, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, replied to a question from Paul Goodman about the boycott thus:

“He would expect nothing less than for me to say that, first, I will not comment on reports in the press, and secondly, I have received no indication from the group that it has boycotted the event, and nor am I aware of ministerial colleagues being thus informed.”

This is almost impossible to square with the statement from his department and his ministerial colleague. It seems that the government is in a state of almost total confusion when it comes to the question of how to deal with the MCB. 

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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