The leader of the largest Muslim organization in Britain vowed Friday to take the secretary of state for communities to court for defamation after she accused him of inciting violence against Jews and British troops.
Dr. Dawud Abdullah, deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said he will sue Hazel Blears for vilifying him in the media after talks between the cabinet minister and MCB on Friday did not resolve their differences.
"Blears defamed me when she claimed I called for an attacks on Jews all over the world," Abdullah told AlArabiya.net.
"That kind of defamation is upping the stakes and I feel obliged to defend myself in a legal manner against such serious and defamatory allegations," he said, adding that he hoped the matter would be resolved after he responded to Blears' accusations in a letter to Britain's Guardian newspaper.
Members of the council also criticized Blears' campaign against Abdullah saying it threatened the relationship between the Muslim community and the U.K. government.
Abdullah's lawyers accused Blears of adopting "an extraordinary and malicious interpretation," of the Istanbul Declaration Abdullah signed this year in solidarity with the people of Gaza.
Blears defamed me when she claimed I called for an attacks on Jews all over the world
Dawud Abdullah, Deputy of MCB
Abdullah explained he and the MCB have taken steps to de-escalate the crisis and that the U.K. government persisted despite a series of meetings, the latest of which was one on Friday when the counil concluded it must seek damages.
"We have explained all our concerns and have met with parliamentarians to move on. But the government has tried to publicly humiliate me," said Abdullah.
"A government which tries to suppress discussion of such views by the kind of crude bullying to which Hazel Blears unfortunately stoops will have little moral support, not only in the Muslim community, but in wider society," he added, noting that the government's ongoing pressure was characteristic of a "classical colonial attitude" towards oppositional voices within society.
The deputy's lawyers warned Blears that unless she issues a retraction and apology by April 15 they will sue for libel.
A government which tries to suppress discussion of such views by the kind of crude bullying to which Hazel Blears unfortunately stoops will have little moral support, not only in the Muslim community, but in wider society
Abdullah, Deputy of MCB
However, a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government defended the department's actions, saying that Blears had "legitimate concern" over the content of the declaration which Abdullah signed along with 90 Muslim leaders.
"We have been in dialogue with the MCB since 6 March seeking clarification of the actions taken by Dr. Abdullah in relation to the serious issues raised by the articles in the Istanbul declaration," the spokeswoman told AlArabiya.net.
"We are concerned with those articles which appear to call for violence and Dr. Abdullah's repeated unwillingness to distance himself from those articles specifically."
The minister said the declaration supported violence against foreign troops, including British naval forces and advocated "attacks on Jewish communities all around the world."
We have been in dialogue with the MCB since 6 March seeking clarification of the actions taken by Dr Abdullah in relation to the serious issues raised by the articles in the Istanbul declaration
Spokeswoman for Hazel Blears
One of the articles in the declaration at the center of contention calls upon the "Islamic Nation" to regard the Zionist regime and the institutions and individuals who support it as partners in crimes against humanity.
The other article obliges the "Islamic Nation" to oppose foreign warships and troops claiming to control the borders of Muslim lands and safeguard Muslim waters and to fight it "by all means and ways," the article stated.
"I do not advocate attacks on any religious community, including Jewish communities, and I do not advocate attacks on British military forces. What I do advocate is the right of all British citizens to agree or disagree with government policy and to use all lawful means to democratically make their voices heard," explained Abdullah.
The Muslim Council of Britain is a voluntary non-profit organization established in 1997. It is an umbrella administrative body with over 400 affiliates from different sectarian and ethnic backgrounds within U.K. Islamic society. MCB aims to promote consensus and national unity among Britain's 2.4 British Muslims.
I do advocate is the right of all British citizens to agree or disagree with government policy and to use all lawful means to democratically make their voices heard
Abdullah, Deputy of MCB