British Muslim Leaders Propose ‘Code of Conduct’
By JOHN F. BURNS
Published: November 30, 2007
LONDON, Nov. 29 — Moderate British Muslim leaders on Thursday proposed guidelines that aim to root out extremism, promote a culture of “civic responsibility” and foster women’s rights in the country’s mosques, Islamic centers and Muslim schools.
The guidelines, circulated in draft form to Muslim groups across the country, represent a sweeping new effort by the moderate leaders to combat alienation among disaffected Muslim youth and to foster a new atmosphere of openness and tolerance among Britain’s two million Muslims, particularly in the country’s 1,500 mosques.
The 10-point “code of conduct” will be put before Muslim groups for public discussion, with the aim of producing a final version by March 2008. The proposals would commit groups that accept the code to “actively combat all forms of violent extremism” within their communities and to “promote civic responsibility of Muslims in wider society.”
...The proposed charter would commit mosques to stricter vetting of imams and other religious leaders, including a check for criminal records. It would require mosques and other Muslim religious institutions to commit to “open, democratic, accountable management,” including making the details of their spending and fund-raising public.
...The Muslim organizations would be required to cooperate with other agencies, including the police and non-Muslim community groups, to bring about what the proposals referred to as a “reconciliation in fractured relationships” between Muslims and non-Muslims.
The 23-page charter won rapid approval outside the Muslim community.
An editorial on Thursday in The Times of London said the charter “implicitly acknowledges some of the failings that have allowed extremists to gain a foothold — poorly educated imams, a lack of financial transparency, little pastoral training and barriers to the participation of women.”
One of the groups involved in drawing up the charter, the British Muslim Forum, posted a statement on its Web site on Thursday defending the proposed charter against critics who say the document sells out Muslim principles and independence.
“What other government has sought to proactively engage with its Muslim population following a terrorist incident, instead of condemning it outright and creating a ‘them and us’ situation,” said the statement, signed by Zareen Roohi Ahmed, the forum’s chief executive.
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