Board furious over claim it backed contentious Islamophobia definition

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Board furious over claim it backed contentious Islamophobia definition

Community leaders say media reports alleging they backed a controversial definition are a 'mixture of innuendo, half-truths and outright falsehoods'

A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left)
A Board of Deputies plenary, with President Marie van der Zyl (second left)

The Board of Deputies has reacted angrily to media claims that it backed a definition of Islamophobia devised by a parliamentary group and influenced by Muslim advocacy group Mend.

In a letter to deputies on Friday it described the report as “a mixture of innuendo, half-truths, and outright falsehoods”.

It said that “in line with other communal bodies including the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust (CST), we discussed various options including supporting a definition, or continuing to monitor developments around this issue.

“We haven’t yet given our support to any definition. We are aware that there are a number of definitions under discussion in the Muslim community, including the [All-Party Parliamentary Group on Muslims] APPG’s, Tell Mama’s, and the Runnymede Trust’s, and we felt it wasn’t the right time for us to endorse any of them.”

The Board said it was inaccurate to say that its staff had “met Baroness Warsi. After checking with the CST, junior Board staff did have one introductory meeting with Muhbeen Hussain – also a junior staff member of the APPG on British Muslims – as one of many Muslim stakeholders we maintain contact with”.

It described as “made up” a claim that there was a “last-minute intervention” by moderate British Muslims, or the Community Security Trust to prevent the Board from endorsing the APPG’s definition.

It said: “The Board of Deputies followed its own decision making process with full due diligence – including asking other stakeholders for their views – and we came to our own decision on the matter, just as other Jewish communal bodies did at the same time.”

With “regards the definition of islamophobia, we will continue to follow the conversation with interest as an ally of the Muslim community against the ugly scourge of anti-Muslim hatred”, said the Board.

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