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December 21, 2006
Indonesian-UK Islamic Group launched to counter ‘extremism’ and promote ‘moderate vision of Islam’
Muslim leaders and scholars held the first of a series of video-link meetings this month following the launch of an Indonesian UK Islamic Advisory Group initiated by Prime Minister, Tony Blair, The Muslim News reports exclusively.
But according to The Muslim News, which exclusively learnt about the initiative, the mainstream umbrella Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has been excluded by the UK Government even though its inclusion was specifically requested by the Indonesians.
In its latest editorial, the monthly questioned “whose views Blair was trying to sponsor” by making one of the central aims of the advisory body the promotion of a “moderate vision of Islam.”
“Does he want the Government’s version of Islam to be legitimised by the group leading to its enforcement on British Muslims,” the editorial asked.
The advisory body was originally launched in October to promote better understanding between Islam and the West and counter religious extremism in the UK.
It followed Blair visiting Jakarta in March, when he agreed with Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to cooperate in fighting terrorism.
The objective is to come up with recommendations for Blair to consider with the British team, selected by Britain’s Foreign Office’s Engaging with the Islamic World Programme, telling The Muslim News they had been given six points by Blair to explore.
These included how to develop links and promote dialogue between Indonesian and British Muslim organizations and how to build partnership across boundaries, including with members of other faiths and civil society.
They were also asked to propose effective means by which to promote a moderate vision of Islam and highlight best practices for achieving the twin objectives of promoting greater understanding between Islam and the West and preventing religious extremism.
According to The Muslim News, there also appeared to be some conflict, with the deadline set for British Muslims by the end of January despite the Indonesians telling the Foreign Office that they need at least six months to be effective.
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