In this Sunday's Panorama Special, John Ware examines questions raised by senior members of the Muslim community themselves: Questions about the direction and role of the Muslim Council of Britain and the influences on the leadership of the organisation and its affiliates.
A Question of Leadership
Sunday 21 August 2005
22:20 BST, BBC One
After 7/7 the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police said the Muslim community in Britain is "fairly close to denial about the extent of extremism in its midst."
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is generally regarded as the community's main representative body. After meeting the Prime Minister at Downing Street, the Secretary General, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, promised that "the community is determined to deal with this issue head on."
Several prominent Muslims explain to Panorama why they believe the MCB is unlikely to meet this challenge at the moment. Indeed one of the founding members of the MCB tells us that "It is my personal belief... that they are in a state of denial."
Panorama examines the extent of Islamist ideology which some of the affiliates which make up the MCB have brought to Britain from Pakistan and the Middle East over the past forty years.
We show that beyond Iraq, even within some of the mainstream, there exists sectarianism, anti-Semitism, and a powerful conviction that Christians and Jews are conspiring to undermine Islam. Some MCB affiliates also promote the belief that Islam is a superior ideology to secular Britain.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sir Iqbal the discussion ranged from his views on the efforts to deal with extremism in some young British Muslims, to the Regent's Park mosque declaration on suicide bombings, to the rhetoric of some MCB affiliates, the relationship between religion and politics, as well as dealing with direct questions about suicide attacks and Sir Iqbal's views on the targeting of civilians around the world, including in Israel.
Despite some critical comments to the contrary, it is certainly not the case that nearly all the questioning of Sir Iqbal Sacranie was about Israel.
Reporter: John Ware
Producers: Dai Richards, Jonathan Brunert, Howard Bradburn
Assistant Producers: Mukul Devichand, Ben Limberg, Kenneth Payne
Deputy Editors: Andrew Bell, Frank Simmonds
Editor: Mike Robinson