British Muslims Extend a Friendly Hand to Jews

March 18, 2007

Author: Jamie Doward

Source: The Observer,,2036665,00.html

Britain's leading Muslim organisation will tomorrow signal a radical shift in its position when one of its senior members addresses a Jewish audience for the first time.

The decision by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) to attend a high-profile debate entitled 'Does more unite Muslims and Jews than divides them?' is being described as 'highly significant' by members of both communities. The move has led to speculation the MCB will drop its controversial opposition to Holocaust Memorial Day.

Inayat Bunglawala, the assistant general secretary of the MCB, who will take part in the debate, said both communities have become concerned at the growing rise of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. 'It is crucial that we do not allow the Israel-Palestine conflict to hamper good and productive relations between Muslims and Jews in the UK,' Bunglawala said.

His comments have been warmly welcomed by members of the Jewish community. 'This debate is a very significant event,' said Nick Viner, chief executive of the Jewish Community Centre, which has sponsored the debate. 'The MCB and the Jewish community haven't seen eye to eye on many issues. I doubt we'll finish up with both sides saying everything is warm and cuddly, but by bringing people together we hope to have an intelligent debate.'