The following press release has been issued by Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain:
The Muslim Council of Britain is appalled to see the utterly discriminatory provision of the new gay marriage legislation proposed by the government. Farooq Murad, the Secretary General of the MCB said, “We find it incredible that while introducing the bill in the House, culture secretary Maria Miller could keep a straight face when offering exemption for the established Church while in the same breath claiming, ‘fairness to be at the heart of her proposals’.
The government announced that, the Church of England and Church in Wales will be banned in law from offering same-sex marriages, with other religious organisations able to opt in to holding ceremonies.
Mr. Murad added, “ It is not just the ‘Church of England and Church in Wales’ who “explicitly” stated strong opposition’ as Mrs. Miller says, the Muslim Council of Britain along with most other faith groups also made equally strong representation”. He said “no one in their right mind should accept such a discriminatory law. It should be amended to give exactly the same exemption to all the religions.” The MCB is seeking an urgent meeting with the Culture Secretary to express the concerns of the Muslim community on the proposed legislation.
It is difficult to understand what Murad is asking the Government to do.
There is to be an exemption for all religious organisations that will allow them not to marry same sex couples if they choose not to offer that service:
The Equality Act 2010 would be amended to ensure no discrimination claim can be brought against religious organisations or individual ministers for refusing to marry a same-sex couple.
So what is Farooq Murad asking for? As far as I can tell, he’s not asking for that exemption. Rather, he is demanding a ban on any Muslim organisation conducting same sex marriages.
There are a few problems with this approach:
- There is no Established Church of Islam in Britain, and Farooq Murad is not its Queen
- There is, instead, a huge range of different Mosques and Muslim denominations, with no central authority
Objectionable though the ban on C of E vicars performing such ceremonies is, no attempt is being made to prevent Methodists, Baptists, or any other Christian denomination doing whatever it wants. Were the government to want to extend the ban to other denominations, you’d have the problem of definition. Those denominations with a hierarchical structure and a central organisation could be made the subject of a ban. Those without, present a problem of identity.
There is no national or world religious structure that defines and controls Muslim organisations. The MCB is merely an umbrella organisation. How could such a ban ever be implemented, if the organisations to which it applied could not be identified? Indeed, the MCB itself regards certain Muslim sects as “not Muslim”: although those sects disagree!
I think that Murad has just misunderstood what the Government is proposing. Never mind. At least it provides an opportunity for him to gripe.
But I think it would have been more sensible to avoid the phrase “utterly discriminatory provision” when seeking the right to insist on discrimination against your fellow citizens.
The MCB is controlled by activists connected to the Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, whose Pakistan branch was run by Farooq Murad’s father.