MCB defends open letter

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, replies to Polly Toynbee:

“The open letter to the prime minister – which I signed alongside more than 40 Muslim groups, MPs and peers – has been subject to deliberate misinterpretation, suggesting a willingness among Muslim leaders to excuse violence and promote a simplified view of how extremism takes root. Toynbee’s accusation – that the letter sails ‘perilously close to suggesting the government had it coming’ – may be an unintentional misrepresentation but it is a grave one.

“The letter articulated the need to base foreign policy on principle. It condemned attacks on civilians wherever they take place. It also sought acknowledgement that, though the causes and motivations are complex, British foreign policy contributes to the radicalisation of Muslims here and elsewhere. The welcome debate that followed the letter illustrates that this has been widely accepted.”

Guardian, 17 August 2006