THE Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has expressed its regret at the closure of the Inter Faith Network following the government’s decision to withhold funding for the network.

The MCB says the decision “appears to be particularly vindictive and reflective of a preference to pursue divisive culture wars rather than cross-community harmony”. The MCB has been a part of the diverse and broad Inter Faith Network for many years.

Zara Mohammed, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “At a time when communities in our country should come together, there is a desperate need for independent initiatives such as the Interfaith Network who, for over 30 years have forged dialogue and cooperation between faiths.

“Through their initiatives such as Inter Faith Week, grassroot communities have been able to share their faiths and commonalities. With the Inter Faith Network, we have found spaces to build bridges and forge connections.

“At a time of conflict and disharmony, why would the government choose to vandalise interfaith relations? The government has said that it is cutting funding to the Inter Faith Network because of the Muslim Council of Britain’s association with the Network. It falsely states that successive governments have not engaged with MCB.

“In fact, the Labour government restored relations with the organisation in 2010 and successive ministers of the coalition government, including then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also met the MCB.

“We are sorry that the Inter Faith Network and interfaith relations generally have been the victim of an inexplicable campaign by divisive ideologues in the government to smear the Muslim Council of Britain and deny British Muslims a representative voice. No other faith group has been treated in this way.

“We at the Muslim Council of Britain are a democratic and diverse Muslim body representing a cross section of British Muslim communities. We do not claim to be the only voice, and we may not always agree with government. For that reason, we have been subject to over a decade of discrimination.

“We will continue to build bridges across faiths and communities in this land. While others want to close down these connections, our door is always open.”

* Source: Muslim Council of Britain