On 28th January, Andrew Gilligan wrote in The Sunday Times that the UK Home Office has been holding secret talks with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) about re-establishing a relationship, after cutting ties with the group 9 years ago over its alleged links with extremism[1]. Gilligan writes that, although the MCB claims to be the main “national representative Muslim body” in the UK, it has been criticised by Muslim moderates as hard-line and unrepresentative of the Muslim community[2]. He noted that the MCB and the Home Office declined to deny the meeting had taken place[3].

In response, the Muslim Council of Britain issued a press release on the same day, calling out the article for trying to delegitimise their organisation by misrepresenting it. In response to Gilligan’s claim that the organisation does not represent the British Muslim community, the MCB writes, “[t]he majority of British Muslims appear to believe the MCB are doing a good job in representing Muslims, (55% in BBC poll; 51% in Channel 4 poll: figures that are significantly higher than the UK’s political parties) despite claims to the contrary by right-wing think tanks and certain journalists misrepresenting poll data to suit their own agenda”[4]. The MCB also points out that Gilligan has been inaccurate on a number of issues regarding the British Muslim community, which he himself has acknowledged[5].

The MCB comments that the misrepresentation of their organisation is part of a larger trend in which Muslims “are held to a different yardstick when it comes to engagement in public life”; they are treated with suspicion and over-regulation in comparison with non-Muslim organisations[6].

[1] Gilligan, 2018.

[2] Gilligan, 2018.

[3] Gilligan, 2018.

[4] Muslim Council of Britain, 2018.

[5] Muslim Council of Britain, 2018.

[6] Muslim Council of Britain, 2018.

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Gilligan, A. (2018) ‘Home Office tries to renew links with Islamic ‘hardliners’’. [online] 28 January. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/home-office-tries-to-renew-links-with-islamic-hardliners-vzs582hqp. [Accessed 22 February 2018].

Muslim Council of Britain. (2018) ‘The Sunday Times on the MCB: Getting the Facts Right’. [online] 28 January. http://www.mcb.org.uk/the-sunday-times-on-mcb-the-facts/. [Accessed 22 February 2018].