The government is to sponsor a theological board of leading imams and Muslim women in an attempt to refute the ideology of violent extremists. (words fail me!)
The committee, to be announced this week, will issue pronouncements on areas such as wearing the hijab and the treatment of wives and is part of a government strategy to counter radicalism.
* Chasing ‘moderate’ Koranimals?
It will rule on interpretation of the Koran and promote the moderate strain of Islam practised by most British Muslims. Â (????) Â It will also comment on controversial issues affecting Muslims living in Britain, including whether or not they should serve in the armed forces.
* WoJ definition of ‘moderate Muslim’ is one who watches while a ‘radical’ cuts your throat…
Its members have been recommended by leading moderates in the Muslim community and will be technically independent, although the government is expected to provide civil service support, a secretariat and members’ expenses.
Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, will announce the committee as part of an anti-extremism strategy called Prevent, devised following the 2005 London bombings. It tries to foster close contacts between Muslims and the rest of society to combat the glorification of terrorism.
The Muslim public affairs committee questioned whether the board would address issues relevant to Muslims’ lives. “To be successful, this initiative must have credibility with the Muslim community as a whole. What matters is what happens at the grass roots in someone’s local mosque,” said a spokeswoman.
The government is concerned that extremist leaders who preach jihad have been able to radicalise young Muslims, partly because of the failure of leading Islamic figures to challenge them.
A committee of Muslim young people will try to ensure the policies are relevant to them and do not inadvertently lead to further radicalisation. The government also plans to support Muslim women by providing discussion groups and work placements.
As part of the Prevent strategy, Blears will go on an international tour to learn the roots of British Muslims. A spokesman said: “Hazel is going to the subcontinent to deepen her understanding of communities.”