Hebron unrest: dozens of Palestinians riot in the West Bank town of Hebron, throwing rocks and firebombs at the IDF outpost dividing the Jewish part and the Palestinian part of the town  Peace talks delay: a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian peace negotiators scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed after the killing of an Israeli in a shooting attack in the West Bank on Monday  Mideast security: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says he is committed to the continuation of the security coordination with Israel, regardless of whether the ongoing peace talks are extended or successful  West Bank attack: Palestinian Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habash condemns the attack that occurred near Hebron on Monday evening which killed Israeli police officer Baruch Mizrahi

Muslims want to have more influence on British policy

1 december 2012

The UK is home to around 3 million Muslims. And here in London you can find the largest Muslim community of any major European city. But when it comes to foreign policy, even those who represent this growing faith community admit that they have little influence on British government policy on Israel.


Dr. Shuja Shafi, Deputy Secretary General, Muslim Council Of Britain : 

"All the indications are that the government is not listening to us and it is a matter of concern for the British Muslims and to a very large extent to the wider British population that sides are being take without being objective" 


The Muslim Council of Britain believes the government's positions on issues in the Middle East are out of touch with Muslims and with British people as a whole, who tend to voice their concerns about government policy.


Dr. Shuja Shafi, Deputy Secretary General, Muslim Council Of Britain : 


"The Iraq war is a very good example where it has not show any signs of listening at that time, when more than a million people came out on the streets, not just Muslims, in fact a very large number of the general public population in the UK and still the war went ahead and those sort of lessons are not being learned."

At a local level, Muslims are becoming a more defined force, particularly in dense urban communities like East London, where in the last General Election, Muslim candidates stood for national office.


In aftermath of the Gaza conflict, Muslims have again been voicing their concerns and Britain has responded by renewing its calls for the US to use its leverage with Israel to forge a long-term settlement on Palestinian statehood.


Nonetheless some British Jewish political leaders actually agree with their Muslim counterparts that the influence of Muslim opinion on the street doesn't translate into action in Westminster.


Tal Ofer, Member Of The European Jewish Parliament : 


"Interest groups and communal leaders try to influence government policy in lots of different areas, businesses try to influence government policies. It's a natural thing in a democracy, so as much as the Muslim population want to try to influence government policy towards Israel, the Jewish communal leaders and the other organizations will try to influence it as well. But the British Government's position towards this conflict has been really clear, calling for the two state solution."


Political pollsters have their own theories about why the voice of British Muslims on Middle East policy is quite so muted on a national level, despite the passions evoked in these communities.


Andrew Hawkins, Chairman, ComRes :


"I don't see it in terms of a tug of war for example between the Jewish community and the Muslim community, British politics just isn't like that and I think it's fair to say that the Muslim community is sufficiently divided and foreign policy so difficult to influence that we've seen very little evidence of their impact on that area of public policy to date."


So despite a six-fold increase in the number of Muslims in Britain over the past 30 years it appears, for now that this sizable community has a limited influence over policy making on the Middle East and on Britain's relationship with Israel.


Natalie Powell, JN1, London


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