LONDON: The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the country’s largest Muslim civil society organization, has urged ministers to reconsider their policy of non-engagement with it, saying this has had “tragic consequences” throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The MCB asked whether “similar faith-based, democratic bodies are excluded in this way” at a time when there is concern about the levels of vaccine uptake among members of minority communities, including the UK’s 2.5 million Muslims.
The MCB’s work throughout the pandemic has included detailed guidance across a range of issues for individuals and mosques.
Its work has received praise from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies.
But the MCB has been blacklisted by the government since 2009 after some of its leaders were accused of supporting violence against Israel.
Since then, communication between the MCB and the government has been inconsistent. The organization said contact was completely cut off last March.
“The tragic consequences of such a policy were seen at the height of the pandemic, when civil servants unexpectedly ceased engaging with the MCB, without providing a reason,” said a spokesperson for the organization.
“This took place at a time when both parties were working hard to provide vital information and guidance to Muslim communities, and whilst government ministries were sharing our work.”
Muslims in the UK have found themselves at the sharp end of the pandemic. Last June, official data found that Muslim men and women had the highest fatality of any faith group during the period of March 1 to May 15.
They also have lower vaccination rates than average, due partly to misinformation surrounding the vaccines’ ingredients and health effects.
Earlier this month, the MCB announced that it had elected its first female leader, Zara Mohammed.
Her election, it said, “represents an opportunity for both the MCB and the government to come together and discuss areas where we could work together for the common good.”