Boris Johnson accused of inventing 'jihadi' allegations against Muslim Council of Britain

The group says it simply never made comments attributed to it by the Mayor

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Boris Johnson made up a “serious false accusation” about the Muslim Council of Britain when he alleged that it claimed jihadists as part of “mainstream Islam”, the organisation has said.

The MCB says it never actually made comments attributed to it by the Mayor of London and has written to the newspaper in which he made the allegations.

Writing in his column, Mr Johnson accused the group of “eliding anti-jihadism with Islamophobia” and attributed criticism of recent comments he had made about Islam to a “spokeswoman” of the Muslim Council of Britain.

But in a letter to the Daily Telegraph newspaper, seen by The Independent, the council says it never made a published comment on the story and accuses the Mayor of inventing the allegations.

“We have investigated this and cannot find any such remark made to the Guardian,” the letter reads.

“So while he was ‘astounded to be denounced’ allegedly by the MCB, we are equally astounded that such a serious false accusation can be published without fully checking the facts.”

The website version of the Guardian story to which Mr Johnson appears to be referring, dated 30 January 2014, does not mention the Muslim Council of Britain.

 

It cites criticism from Quilliam, an organisation set up to challenge extremism, which refers to Mr Johnson’s claims regarding jihadists being sexually repressed as “ludicrous” and “a generalisation”.

The organisation Islamix, which promotes promotes community cohesion, is also quoted. Its director Mohammed Khaliel, accused the mayor of sowing “discord”.

Writing in his regular Daily Telegraph column, published this morning, the Mayor of London said he was “astonished” to be attacked by the MCB.

“I was astounded to be denounced, on the front page of the Guardian, by the Muslim Council of Britain,” he wrote.

“A spokeswoman said that I was somehow attacking Muslims as a whole. Why on earth would she say that? Why is the MCB effectively claiming these porn freak jihadists for mainstream Islam?”

The complaint referred to an interview Mr Johnson had given to The Sun newspaper in which he had described jihadis as “literally wankers”, arguing “They are not making it with girls, and so they turn to other forms of spiritual comfort — which of course is no comfort.”

At the time, he also told the newspaper: “I often hear voices from the Muslim intelligentsia who are very quick to accuse people of Islamophobia.

“But they are not explaining how it can be that this one religion seems to be leading people astray in so many cases. They are not being persuasive in the right way with these people.”

His comments were criticised in the Guardian by the anti-extremism group Quilliam and the community cohesion organisation Islamix. The Muslim Council of Britain is not quoted.

The source at the Muslim Council of Britain said they were not sure why Mr Johnson had attributed the comments to them.

“The only comment we made at the time was ‘We have not got sight of the MI5 report cited by Boris Johnson, so we cannot comment on his interpretation of its contents,’” the MCB’s letter to the Daily Telegraph read.

The Mayor’s spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

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