An Islamic news portal is reporting on a 15 January 2023 event held at the British Parliament, marking the publication of the 2023 British Muslim Civil Society Report (BMCSR). The report, with a significant role played by the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, purports to document the current state of British Muslim civil society and was backed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims (APPGBM). According to an article posted on Islam21c:
January 16, 2023 An important new paper was presented in Parliament on Monday afternoon. Commissioned by Mercy Mission UK and written by lead investigator and researcher Dr. Usaama al-Azami, the British Muslim Civil Society builds in part on the recently released census data for England and Wales, which showed that Muslims now make up 6.5 per cent of the population. And to unleash the full potential of the Muslim community, the piece offers a set of recommendations for policymakers and others in positions of influence within civil society.
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According to its authors, the purpose of the report is to improve understanding of British Muslim civil society and empower it to contribute to a more “compassionate and united Britain.” Drawing from recently released census data, the BMCSR analyzes the current state of the Muslim population in Britain and highlights the challenges it faces.
The 46-page document calls for stronger partnerships between the public, private, and third sectors to better respond to Muslim society’s needs. It also urges policymakers to tackle “structural racism and Islamophobia,” including by implementing the APPGBM’s definition of Islamophobia. In 2018, this definition was rejected by the British government over concerns it undermined efforts to tackle extremism. The report further criticizes the British government’s Prevent Strategy, part of a comprehensive policy framework aimed at stopping people from being drawn into terrorism, accusing it of contributing to Islamophobia:
The charity sector, alongside partners in national and local politics, need to acknowledge the deleterious psychological impact of Islamophobia, perceived by many young Muslims as embedded within policies like Prevent, on young Muslims’ mental health and their prospects for educational and professional success.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported in August 2022 on a study by three British extremism experts highlighting the role that UK Muslim Brotherhood groups have played in delegitimizing the British government’s Prevent Strategy,
The BMCSR authors also recommend that British Muslim civil society organizations invest in think tanks and research institutes that develop robust relationships with lawmakers and policymakers, both in local and in national government. They also recommend media literacy projects, advertising those maintained by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND), both close to the GMB in Britain.
The British Muslim Civil Society Report was commissioned by Mercy Mission UK, a Muslim charity founded in Australia in 2006, and which describes its goals as researching, defining, refining, and incubating innovative community development projects. Mercy Mission Special Advisor Sagheer Malik is a former Head of Premier and Retail Assets at the Al-Rayan Bank, formerly known as the Islamic Bank of Britain, which is known to have provided banking services for GMB and Hamas support organizations. Mercy Mission is also one of the creators of the UK charity National Zakat Foundation, whose Chairman, Sultan Choudhury, is the former Al-Rayan Bank CEO.
The BMCSR lead researcher is Oxford University Islamic Studies Lecturer Usaama al-Azami, a member of the Doha Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), formerly headed by GMB leader Tariq Ramadan. He is also a lecturer at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Leicestershire, a center for the GMB, and has written for the Islamist publication Middle East Eye. The BMCSR Director, Jehangir Malik, is the former UK Director of GMB charity Islamic Relief.
The report’s advisory board also includes academics and representatives of several other Muslim advocacy groups. Some of them are known to be tied to the GMB, including:
- Muhammad Wajid Akhter, Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB)
- Zamzam Ibrahim, Vice President of the European Students Union, where the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) is an associate member
The BMCSR acknowledged contributions made by the Aziz Foundation, a British grant-making body and scholarship organization whose past leadership was tied to the European GMB network, including the European Network Against Racism and the MCB. The Aziz Foundation has also provided funding for the APPGBM. The BMCSR also received support from the Islamic Foundation in Markfield, close to the GMB and Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan’s oldest and most influential Islamist party.
The report’s foreword was co-authored by APPGBM Vice-Chair and Labour MP Naz Shah and Rt Hon. Sayeeda Warsi (APPGBM Treasurer, Conservative Party), both with a history of cooperating with the GMB in the UK.