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Back Activities Press Releases PRESS RELEASE: UK – Letter to Gordon Brown over government pressure on MCB to axe Daud Abdullah

PRESS RELEASE: UK – Letter to Gordon Brown over government pressure on MCB to axe Daud Abdullah

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IHRC wrote to Gordon Brown expressing “grave concern and disappointment” over Hazel Blears' letter and ultimatum to the MCB calling for the resignation of Daud Abdullah.

 

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Islamic Human Rights Commission
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30 March 2009

PRESS RELEASE: UK – Letter to Gordon Brown over government pressure on MCB to axe Daud Abdullah

On 27 March 2009, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressing “grave concern and disappointment” over Hazel Blears' letter and ultimatum to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) calling for the resignation of Deputy Director-General Dr Daud Abdullah.

In the letter, IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh stated:

“The British government has consistently touted Israel's right to defend itself, even to the recent sum of 1400+ Palestinians dead, and mounting evidence for an Israeli war crimes implication. Unsurprisingly, Muslim leaders' not conforming with the government's policy and asserting the right of Palestinians' to defend themselves once again brings them under attack as being 'anti-Jewish' and endorsing “violent extremism”. Now, the burden is ironically shifted to the MCB to confirm its opposition to violent extremism by axing its deputy director-general. If the government is to confirm its own sincerity for battling violent extremism, it can start by reconsidering its stalwart support for a murderous Israeli regime.”

Dr Abdullah is one of the British Muslim community's “most significant and respected figures”, as well as being an acclaimed human rights defender, deputy director-general of the MCB and a senior researcher at the Palestine Return Centre (PRC). In September 2004, Abdullah sacrificed his own safety by venturing to Iraq to appeal for the release of British hostage Ken Bigley.

Mr Shadjareh said that this “entirely unprecedented” call far exceeded an “appropriate realm for government intervention”, further noting the government's past reluctance “to call for the sacking of even parliamentarians”…”even in cases involving clear criminality.”

Shadjareh also stated:

“It is wholly unacceptable that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears should exceed her bounds in this way by calling for Dr Abdullah's resignation. Indeed, such a level of selective and discriminatory interference can provide no way forward in terms of societal cohesion and strengthening civil society, and greatly compromises Ms Blears' integrity at such a central post.”

Mr Shadjareh further urged the government to respect the independence of all non-governmental and faith-based organisations, and replace “ultimatums and taking sides” with a policy of speaking to all community representatives, including the MCB…”

For more information please contact the Press Office on (+44) 20 8904 4222 or (+44) 795 8522 196 email info@ihrc.org.[ENDS]

Note to editors: copy of original letter to Gordon Brown below.

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown
10 Downing Street
London, SW1A 2AA

27 March 2009

Dear Prime Minister Brown,

Re: Hazel Blears' letter to MCB calling for the resignation of Daud Abdullah

It is with grave concern and disappointment that I write to you concerning Hazel Blears' recent letter and ultimatum to the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in which she calls for the resignation of its respected deputy director-general, Dr Daud Abdullah.

The British government has consistently touted Israel's right to defend itself, even to the recent sum of 1400+ Palestinians dead, and mounting evidence for an Israeli war crimes implication. Unsurprisingly, Muslim leaders' not conforming with the government's policy and asserting the right of Palestinians' to defend themselves once again brings them under attack as being 'anti-Jewish' and endorsing “violent extremism”. Now, the burden is ironically shifted to the MCB to confirm its opposition to violent extremism by axing its deputy director-general. If the government is to confirm its own sincerity for battling violent extremism, it can start by reconsidering its stalwart support for a murderous Israeli regime.

One of the British Muslim community's “most significant and respected figures”, Dr Abdullah is an acclaimed human rights defender, deputy director-general of the MCB and a senior researcher at the Palestine Return Centre (PRC). In September 2004, Abdullah sacrificed his own safety by venturing to Iraq to appeal for the release of British hostage Ken Bigley.

As Dr Abdullah has made public and clear on several occasions, he is categorically “opposed to any attack or violence directed against innocent persons of any faith or no faith anywhere in the world”, and likewise has never called for attacks on Jewish communities.

Far beyond an appropriate realm for government intervention, it is entirely unprecedented that the government should ask a member of any non-governmental or faith-based organisation to resign. Even in cases involving clear criminality, how reluctant has the government been to call for the sacking of even parliamentarians.

It is wholly unacceptable that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears should exceed her bounds in this way by calling for Dr Abdullah's resignation. Indeed, such a level of selective and discriminatory interference can provide no way forward in terms of societal cohesion and strengthening civil society, and greatly compromises Ms Blears' integrity at such a central post. Therefore I urge the government to replace ultimatums and taking sides with a policy of speaking to all community representatives, including the MCB, and respect their independence.

We are awaiting your response regarding this important matter.

Yours sincerely,

Massoud Shadjareh

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The Islamic Human Rights Commission is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Wembley
HA9 7XH
United Kingdom

Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183
Email: info@ihrc.org
Web: www.ihrc.org

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