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The Muslim Council of Wales takes seriously the dangers of anti-Semitism, and commits itself to addressing, challenging and combating anti-Semitism in society.

As part of our work building relationships, we are proud to have been the first Muslim organisation to host the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Ephraim Mirvis. In addition, we have held collaborative interfaith events, such as a talk by a Holocaust survivor (Ruth Barnett) in a mosque, exhibitions on Jewish and Muslim solidarity, and we regularly meet with representatives of the Jewish faith.

Many proponents of anti-Semitism envision a society in which the religious and ethnic identities of minorities are eradicated, and so there is often a strong overlap with Islamophobia. This operates in reverse too; those who engage in Islamophobia can easily turn their rhetoric, hatred, and violence, towards Jewish communities. Given this, it is incredibly important Muslims and Jews cooperate in tackling both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

We utilise the following definition of anti-Semitism, and will implement it to ensure it is institutionally understood. It is taken from the European Union’s Campaign Against Antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

For comparison, we operate with the following definition of Islamophobia from the University of Berkeley.

“Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.”

We note that while there are many similarities between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, there are also significant areas of difference.

Jewish history in Europe, for example, has included significant acts of violence, most notably the Holocaust, but also other acts of discrimination, exclusion, and persecution. This has been embedded within European cultural memory, European institutions, language, and cultural idioms.

Another point of difference between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism is that European relationships with Muslims have been largely predicated on empire and imperialism, and this has a lasting impact on contemporary relationships. This large-scale global exploitation, violence, and oppression not only affects relationships between Muslim citizens in European countries, but also the relationships between states in the West and Muslim-majority countries.

Nonetheless, the mobilisation of ideas, rhetoric, and violence against Muslim and Jewish minorities are comparable, especially around issues of integration (or lack thereof), of divided loyalties, and of religious traditions accused of being “incompatible” with Britain/the West/modernity. Another similarity is the paradox of power. Jews and Muslims are often spoke about as infiltrating society or controlling its politics while simultaneously accused of being “culturally backward” and degenerate.

An area of tension for some Muslims and Jews is how criticism of the state of Israel can be perceived as anti-Semitic. For many reasons, Jerusalem, the occupied territories, and the state of Israel, are a complex and emotive topic for Muslims and Jews.

The Muslim Council of Wales recognises that at times Israel is used as a “stand in” for Jews, and age-old anti-Semitic tropes are used and mobilised in criticising Israel. We recognise this is painful and dangerous. The Leader of the SNP in Westminster, Angus Robertson MP, argued that in pursuing support for “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” some individuals start using “language and imagery” that draws “repeated accusations from the 20th and 19th centuries about Jewish ownership of the press or the financial system and so on”.

We believe it is possible to criticise Israel and fight for the rights and freedoms of Palestinian people without being anti-Semitic, and as such, will maintain a zero-tolerance policy against any anti-Semitism used when campaigning for Palestinian rights and critiquing the Israeli state.

There will, we believe, be areas in which the answers are not entirely clear, where there may be disagreement as to whether something is legitimate criticism of Israel or anti-Semitic, and as such, we wish to work with our Jewish colleagues and partners to resolve these issues as and when they arise, with a spirit of cooperation and commitment to each other’s rights, and a sacred recognition of each other’s humanity.

Prof. Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and her team have developed a fantastic resource for schools entitled “Tackling Islamophobia: A Children’s Rights Resource for Secondary Schools in Wales.”

Last year, the advice charity ChildLine reported a sharp rise in calls to their hotline reporting Islamophobic bullying , with children as young as 9 years old being targeted, and some turning to self-harm as a result.

The Muslim Council of Wales were very happy to help with the development of this timely and urgently needed resource, by recruiting young people from the Cardiff Muslim community to a listening session with the Commissioner’s team last summer. We are immensely proud of the wisdom shown and insights provided by these young people into the struggles they face every day as Muslims living in Wales.  

Islamophobia is on the increase.  No child should be the target of hate for any reason, however, there are many ways that everyone, Muslim and otherwise, can work together to end these problems in our society.   

For more information, please visit the Commissioner’s website , download the resource to give to your child’s school, and share the videos below on your social media platforms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MCW co-hosts international Peaceful Coexistence Conference

On December 5th 2017, the Muslim Council of Wales in partnership with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and the Knowledge Exchange Program of Saudi Arabia, hosted a joint international conference on the theme of ‘Ethical Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence’. The conference was held in Cardiff City Hall and attracted over 110 speakers and delegates from around the world and across the UK. The conference aimed to look primarily at religious and interfaith perspectives on the topic to provide ways forward for peaceful coexistence in an increasingly globalised, diverse and conflicted world.

The conference was inaugurated by representatives from the three partner organisations – Prof. Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Dr Abdullah Al Lheedan, Chairman of the Knowledge Exchange Program (KEP) and Prof. Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales (MCW).

The keynote speaker was Dr Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti Emeritus of Bosnia who spoke on the Islamic concepts of ethics and morality as bases for peaceful coexistence. He reflected on how these ideas relate to contemporary issues such as Islamophobia and violent conflict and how there must be cooperation between Muslims and other communities to address these. He argued for an acknowledgement of issues within Muslim communities and texts as well as an acknowledgement of the moral emphasis in the message of Islam in order to move dialogue forward. The full speech can be downloaded on Dr Ceric’s organisation’s website here:

Konferencija u Kardifu o temi “Etički pristup miroljubivom suživotu”

Other speakers included Prof Gary Bunt from UWTSD who discussed online examples of conflict and coexistence, Catriona Robertson, Director of the Christian-Muslim Forum who argued for a strategic, practical approach to interfaith work, Dr Waqar Azmi from Remembering Srebrenica who reflected on lessons from the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia in 1995, Dr Yasser Babateen from KEP who explored how learning a language can be an opportunity for cultural exchange to promote coexistence, and Rabbi Monique Mayer  who gave an example of a project aimed at coexistence after the eruption of violence in Gaza in 2014.

The initiative resulted in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the three partner organisations which took place during MCW’s annual interfaith dinner the following evening on 6th December 2017. The document was signed by Prof. Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), Dr Abdullah Al Lheedan, Chairman of the Knowledge Exchange Program (KEP) and Prof. Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales (MCW). The memorandum of understanding will allow further cooperation between the organisations to develop further initiatives and projects aiming to counteract division and conflict in society and achieve peaceful coexistence.

From left to right: Prof. Medwin Hughes (UWTSD), Dr. Abdullah Al Lheedan (KEP) and Prof. Saleem Kidwai (MCW)

For more information, use the contact details below:

Conference website: https://peacefulcoexistenceconference.wordpress.com/ or

Email: conference@muslimcouncilwales.org.uk.

Conference hashtag: #CoexistenceConf (to see social media posts from the day)

 

 

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the leaders of three bodies to formalise our co-operation on various projects over the next five years.

The MoU was signed at the Muslim Council of Wales’ Annual Interfaith Dinner on Wednesday 6th December 2017 by the following representatives:

  • Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David
  • Dr  Abdullah Al Heedan, Chairman of the Knowledge Exchange Program
  • Professor Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales 

The MOU came after the three organisations’ first collaborative event the day before, the Ethical Approaches to Peaceful Coexistence Conference 2017, held in Cardiff’s City Hall.  In it, the three organisations to agree to work on joint projects, including the translation and publication of articles, books and research papers, academic exchange and organising shared events, over the next five years.

Representatives signing the Memorandum of Understanding

(left to right) Prof Medwin Hughes (UWTSD), Dr Dr Abdullah Al Heedan (KEP), Prof Saleem Kidwai (MCW)

Following the news of the incidents in Barcelona last night, the Muslim Council of Wales has issued the following statement:

“The Muslim Council of Wales is shocked and saddened by the news of the attacks on members of the public and police officers in Barcelona on Thursday. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families at this difficult time.

“We pray that these senseless criminal acts will only serve to further unite the public in the face of those who seek to spread hatred, violence, and divisions between communities. We trust that the Spanish authorities will investigate and prosecute the perpetrators within the full extent of the law.”

Muslim Council of Wales
Broadway House, Broadway
Cardiff CF23 1PU
E-mail: info@muslimcouncilwales.org.uk
Tel: 029 2048 7667

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Wales is Wales’ largest Muslim umbrella body, with regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools as affiliated members.

Following the news of the terror attack in Finsbury Park last night, the Muslim Council of Wales has issued the following statement:

“The Muslim Council of Wales is horrified by the news of the attack on Muslim worshippers on Sunday evening. Our prayers are with the victims.

“It is even more horrific that there is a potential Welsh link with the attacker. We trust the authorities and police investigation, and await further information.

“We hope that this is an opportunity for communities to come together, as our nation has done with terror attacks in the past, and with the Grenfell disaster.

“Unfortunately, so long as Muslims are held collectively guilty for terror attacks committed by those with a Muslim identity, then Islamophobic violence against Muslims will remain common. The responsibility is on politicians and the media to discuss all cases of terrorism with care and diligence.

“One year ago Jo Cox was assassinated on the street. This weekend was declared by the Jo Cox Foundation as a moment to celebrate her legacy – that we have more in common than divides us. We urge all to remember her message today.”

Muslim Council of Wales
Broadway House, Broadway
Cardiff CF23 1PU
E-mail: info@muslimcouncilwales.org.uk
Tel: 029 2048 7667

 

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Wales is Wales’ largest Muslim umbrella body, with regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools as affiliated members.

Press Release:

Saleem Kidwai OBE, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, has issued the following statement following the attack on London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday 3 June 2017:

“What has happened in London yesterday, barely a fortnight after the tragedy in Manchester, has left me and our communities in shock.  We are saddened by this senseless loss of life, and our prayers and thoughts are for the victims, their families and for all those affected.

“We commend the emergency services and Metropolitan Police force for their swift action and especially their efforts to keep the people updated of developments via social media.  We urge the public to allow the police to do their job, without undue speculation, and to only share news from trustworthy sources.

“Again, as happened in Manchester, the many stories of people opening their homes, businesses and places of worship as shelter to those caught up in the events of last night, show the true nature of the British people in pulling together during times of need. We pray to God Almighty to protect us all from those who seek to divide us.”

END.

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Wales is Wales’ largest Muslim umbrella body, with regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools in Wales.

For further information please contact:

The Muslim Council of Wales

Broadway House

Broadway
Cardiff
CF24 1PU
Tel: 0845
Fax: 029 2048 7667

Email: info@muslimcouncilwales.org.uk

Following the attack on Manchester Arena last night, Saleem Kidwai OBE, KFO, FRSA, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, has issued the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the horrific events overnight in Manchester, and my prayers are with the families and the victims of this cowardly act.  I hear that many of the victims and injured were children and young teenagers, which makes this criminal attack all the more terrible.

“We must all pay tribute to the fantastic job done by the Greater Manchester Police and the emergency services in responding to the incident, and working tirelessly to save lives and ensure the safety of all those caught up in the events.  Moreover, the public of Manchester, including taxi drivers and hoteliers, pulling together to offer transport and lodgings to people in their time of need, shows the wonderful nature of the people of this great city.

“I would urge the public to refrain from speculation, and to only share news from trustworthy sources.  Already there have been many social media hoaxes exposed regarding this incident, which will only serve to delay the investigations, and cause further confusion.  I pray that the Police will be able to swiftly identify the       perpetrator and his motives so that justice can be done.”

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Wales is Wales’ largest Muslim umbrella body, with regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

 

Press Release

Saleem Kidwai OBE, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, expressed the following in relation to the death of Rhodri Morgan:

“Rhodri Morgan’s death brought sadness to all who knew him, and many who did not know him but had benefited from his tremendous good work as a politician.

During his tenure as First Minister, he was an impeccable politician, professional but always good humored. Many Muslims in Wales knew him as a friend too, he was as comfortable in a mosque as he was in the Senedd, and represented a vision of Wales which was progressive, open to the world, welcoming and multicultural.

One of his lasting legacies is establishing the Faith Communities Forum, bringing together religious communities in Wales to meet with each other and with the Welsh Government. His leadership in recognising the integral role of faith traditions has made Wales a pioneer, and many countries have since followed the example set by Rhodri. 

On behalf of Welsh Muslims, I offer condolences and prayers to Julie Morgan and Rhodri’s family. He will be deeply missed by so many. The traditional Muslim prayer for the deceased is “From God we have come, and to God we return”. I know that Rhodri would have loved to have heard the Islamic prayer made in Welsh – “O Duw dyn ni wedi dod ac i Duw dyn ni’n mynd nol”.

Notes to Editors:

The Muslim Council of Wales is the Wales largest Muslim umbrella body with regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

The Muslim Council of Wales joins with civic and faith leaders across the country in standing in solidarity against the horrific murders that took place in Westminster on Wednesday 22nd March 2017.

We applaud the selflessness and bravery of the police officer who died protecting others, and our thoughts and prayers are with all those injured and killed in the attack, and their families and loved ones.

There is a long history of terrorists of all persuasions targeting government and Westminster, seeking a perverse justice of their own making. The Holy Quran is clear – “No one will bear the burden of another” (35:18). There is no justification for murder.

Two weeks ago, the Muslim Council of Wales held a conference with civic partners across Wales in order to identify ways in which to tackle all forms of violent extremism. Today, we are reminded of the importance of fighting for a more cohesive, compassionate and caring society.

On Saturday 18 March, the Muslim Council of Wales joined with Stand Up to Racism and many other organisations and citizens of Wales and marched through Cardiff as part of the United Nations’ International Day against Racism.  We reject those who seek to divide us through hate.  We stand united with our fellow British citizens in the face of these events.

 

Notes to editors:
1. The Muslim Council of Wales is an umbrella body representing mosques and Muslim organisations across Wales.
2. For further information call 029 2048 7667 (extension 214) or email info@muslimcouncilwales.org.uk