It seems that the Government has not heard of reverse psychology in its dealings with Muslims community leaders. Ruth Kelly says she now only wants to support Muslim community groups that join the fight against extremists:
“the government in the past has sometimes fallen into the trap of setting too much store by the voice of a small number of organisations. We must make sure we hear the voices of those, such as Muslim women, who have too often been overlooked. The government has shifted funding to the organisations which are taking the lead by forging stronger links with other communities, providing high-quality teaching about Islam and standing up to extremist messages.”
I think that is something of a slap to the Muslim Council of Britain which used to be the Government’s favourite Muslim group until it realised that the MCB was politically opposed to much of New Labour domestic and foreign policy. But as I found out at a recent POLIS meeting which looked at this issue through the news media’s eyes, that policy is going to make the MCB very popular among disgruntled young Muslims. As any parent or teacher knows, any self-respecting Muslim youth with any kind of complaint will be more attracted by an organisation that the Government disapproves of.
And it doesn’t make it any easier for journalists either. Just who are they supposed to talk to when they seek Muslim views? Who elected any of these community leaders? POLIS will be looking at these issues in depth over the next few months – contact us if you wish to join in our activities.