Today, October 29, the Muslim Council of Britain and London trade unions are holding a conference entitled: ‘Recognising Strenghts and Building Partnerships; Trade Unions and Muslim Organisations in London’ at City Hall. The conference is supported by the mayor of London. Here is the statement of the Council of Ex-Muslims on the conference and the April 2007 joint seminar by the Trade Union Congress and the Muslim Council of Britain entitled Trade Unions and the Muslim Community:
Few of the ordinary people who are identified in Britain as ‘Muslim’ are represented by the Muslim Council of Britain; they are in fact secular and want religion and the state to be kept separate.
For British Trade Unions – that have an outstanding record of fighting for justice and fairness, defending free speech, fighting for workers’ right and defeating the Far Right – to engage with and give credibility to a right wing organisation such as the Muslim Council of Britain is unfortunate and mistaken. The MCB draws inspiration from the neo-fascist Jammaat-e-Islami. British Trade Unions have pioneered the struggle for equality, diversity and the rights of women and LGBT members. The Muslim Council of Britain has, for example, openly declared that gay and lesbians are unacceptable and harmful and maintained the discrimination against millions of women by the imposition of sexual apartheid and the veil.
For British Trade Unions to link to such right-wing Islamic groups is to betray the memory of Trade Unionists across the world who have died in the struggle against political Islam and the struggle for political and trade union freedoms British workers have fought for over centuries.
British Trade Unions should approach British ‘Muslims’ as fellow workers and encourage them to fully participate and integrate with other workers in Britain . It is a mistake to give credence to self-styled and self-appointed leaders of reactionary religious organisations.
We appeal to UNISON, Unite, SERTUC and other Trade Unions in London and the UK to maintain their heritage of secular and progressive thinking and not link to stereotypes of medievalism.