The government will fund Muslim groups according to how active they are in fighting extremism, the communities secretary said today, warning that paying “lip service” to the struggle was not good enough.
Ruth Kelly urged members of Britain’s Muslim communities to do more in what she herself said would be a “challenging” message to some listeners.
She also attacked the Muslim Council of Britain – without actually naming it – by criticising organisations which had boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day.
Praising the contribution of many groups to good relations with other communities, she added:
“It’s not good enough to sit on the sidelines or pay lip service to fighting extremism. I want a fundamental rebalancing of our relations with Muslim organisations. In future our strategy on funding and engagement must shift significantly to organisations taking a pro-active leadership role in tackling extremism and defending our shared values.”
This rather reinforces suspicions that Kelly wants to sideline the MCB and deal with the Sufi Muslim Council, whose launch she attended in July. The SMC is irrelevant and unrepresentative but has the advantage for Kelly that it places the blame for the development of extremism on the community itself rather than on the government’s foreign policy.
Postscript: Yup, that what’s going on. See the Times, 12 October 2006
See also Osama Saeed’s comments at Rolled Up Trousers, 12 October 2006