A message from Cllr Mike Katz
Camden Councillor Mike Katz has written a letter to the Jewish Chronicle clarifying the Ministry of Dawah situation, we have reproduced the letter in its entirety. We feel it is important that elected represntatives be given a wide and open platform to discuss these issues. We thank Councillor Katz for sharing the letter with us beforehand. Here it is:
Your report on Camden and the Ministry of Dawah (MoD) paints a picture which is far from the truth (Camden Council giving al-Qaeda group freedom to preach, JC 18 May 2012).
It is simply not the case to say that Camden has refused to sever links with the MoD or that we have “repeated rejected opportunities” to take activity on the MoD. First, Camden council has no established ties to this group. Second, as soon as I was notified of this issue, it was taken up by officers. At no point in time was the need for action or the claims made about the MoD disputed.
Also, to be clear, the venue used is not directly run by Camden, but leased to a community group. That certainly does not mean we wash our hands of the matter, as your unfair and partial quoting of Cllr Hayward suggests, just that it is not simply a case of being able to take action directly.
When we can act ourselves – such as stopping hate preachers Murtaza Khan and Jalal Ibn Saeed speaking at the council-run Camden Centre earlier this year – we do so, swiftly.
Sadly, the MoD is not proscribed by law (and it should be), so you would expect any public authority to undertake due diligence before taking action. We do not want to hand an odious outfit like the MoD a propaganda victory (or, worse, leave us open to legal challenge) as they claim discrimination or that their freedom of speech has been curtailed.
Camden has worked constructively with StandforPeace and other like-minded organisations when extremist organisations have sought to use the council’s facilities. We all have the same objective – protecting our youngsters from the evil of Islamist hate propaganda. I would prefer to focus on that, rather than having to correct unfair slurs on Camden which has always acted in the best of intentions in this regard.
Camden prides itself on its diversity and its tolerance for all minorities. We are home to the Jewish Museum and a number of synagogues; we take pride in our strong and vibrant Jewish heritage. We will not tolerate any group or person preaching hate in our Borough and are always ready to take firm action to prevent this.
Cllr Mike Katz
Chair, Community Cohesion Working Group