Letter to the Guardian editor about the MCB and the declaration signed in Istanbul

28 March 2009

A row has broken out over the participation of the assistant general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain at an event in Istanbul organised to support Hamas. A declaration was drafted which contained the usual ugly Islamist language against Israel and Jews. It also had an appeal for attacks on naval patrol vessels from the democratic world sent by the UN or EU at Egypt’s behest to try and stop the flow of terrorist equipment into Gaza. Government Minister Hazel Blears announced that if the MCB was supporting an appeal to kill Royal Navy personnel, it would not be possible to have normal relations with the MCB. The MCB reacted crossly and its supporters sent in a letter of protest to the Guardian. I was not aware of the details of the row as I had been in the United States. But a quick reading of the Istanbul declaration made clear that there was indeed an appeal to attack Royal Navy and other ships and usually when ships are attacked sailors are killed. I sent the letter below to the Guardian, which printed a shorter version of it today.

Editor, The Guardian, 27 March 2009
Dear Sir,
Surely Mr Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain and his supporters protest too much. (Letters 27 March) The declaration he signed says the signatories consider “the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.” Leaving to one side the concept of “Muslim waters” and which “Nation” is having its sovereignty violated, the declaration Mr Abdullah signed says the naval forces mandated by the UN and EU, including the Royal Navy, must be “fought by all means and ways”. We have seen Islamist Jihadi attacks on naval vessels and sailors killed. My constituents who serve in the Royal Navy should not have to face calls for attacks on their ships by British citizens.
Mr Abdullah can clear up the matter by withdrawing his signature from the Istanbul Declaration.
Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP