1. What type of organisation is MEND?

MEND is a not for profit company limited by guarantee.

2. When and why was it set up?

MEND was launched at the beginning of Ramadan 1429 A.H (1st September 2008) in order to help encourage increased numbers of British Muslims to become more actively involved in engaging with the media and politics. In short, to become more active and engaged citizens of our country.

MEND provides free seminars to Muslims in Britain to better enable them to challenge negative and unfair coverage and comment about Islam and Muslims in the UK.

MEND also encourages voter registration amongst British Muslim communities and aims to provide the skills needed by Muslims to better engage in local and national political life in the UK. MEND aims to improve the quality of Muslim engagement by supporting skills development and political awareness in British Muslim communities.

3. How is MEND financed?

MEND is financed entirely by charitable donations.

4. How will MEND improve media and political engagement by Muslims?

MEND aims to improve media and political engagement by Muslims through:

  • Providing training to Muslims on how best to challenge material published or broadcast that unfairly maligns Islam and Muslims
  • Encouraging voter registration campaigns
  • Providing resources and materials to inform British Muslims of media and political issues of importance and relevance to them as citizens of this country
  • Organising public forums for journalists to engage directly with Muslim communities
  • Better awareness of the consequences of remaining on the margins of political and media debates on Islam and Muslims in Britain

5. Why the focus on media and politics?

The attention focussed on Muslims in the media and politics and the lack of sufficient numbers of Muslims able to counter the volume of negative and unfair coverage is largely the reason for the focus on these areas.

A study done by the Cardiff School of Journalism in July 2008 found that the frequency of stories written on Muslims in the British press has risen massively over the last eight years. (Table taken from ‘Stories about British Muslims over time’, Images of Islam in the UK: The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008 by Kerry Moore, Paul Mason and Justin Lewis. Cardiff School of Journalism, 2008, pg. 9)

Year Frequency of Stories
2000 352
2001 2185
2002 1673
2003 1917
2004 2399
2005 3812
2006 4196
2007 3213
2008 3466

While coverage around 2001 and 2005 could be imputed to the attacks in New York and London, what the data reveals is the frequent conflation of reporting on terrorism with news stories on British Muslims.

The Cardiff study also found that around a quarter of the stories refer negatively to Islam as dangerous, archaic or irrational, with only 2% of them positively appraising Muslims’ acceptance of dominant moral values and around two thirds of the coverage of Islam and Muslims in Britain focuses on them as a threat, a problem or both.

The need for Muslims to counter and reverse the trend of malignant and derogatory press coverage, as well as greater involvement in politics and political debate is essential for reasons of equality, integrity and accountability.

All British citizens have a responsibility to help shape and create the kind of society that makes us proud to be British. MEND endeavours to do this by supporting the contributions of British Muslims to British society.

6. Some Muslims argue that voting is forbidden and that Muslims that vote in elections are acting contrary to Islamic injunctions. What do you say to this?

The majority of Muslim scholars agree on the importance of political participation by Muslims irrespective of the fundamental nature of the society in which they live; whether Muslim or non Muslim. All Muslims are required to uphold and promote what is good and discourage what is bad. This is necessary whether you live in a Muslim majority society or as a minority in a non Muslim majority society. Muslim scholars argue that the essential purposes of shari’ah compel Muslims to act and participate in ways that protect and defend life, liberty and property, ie to work for the common good of all their fellow citizens.

Muslims are obliged to work in partnership with non-Muslims to ensure that policies and attitudes in their society are consistent with justice and equality for all. This can only be achieved through engagement and participation in the processes that shape our public culture and political life.

For detailed expositions of scholarly opinion on Muslim voting and active participation in politics click here:http://www.iacn.org.uk/iacnfol/viewpoint/scholars_voting.htm

Or you can read about them here:

7. Some argue that Muslims that are involved in politics are only interested in furthering their own interests as a community, for example, lobbying for ‘special exemptions’. Is MEND a ‘communal’ organisation only interested in the Muslim community?

No, MEND does not seek special privileges or exemptions for Muslims. This is an argument often advanced by organisations that see any form of organisation by Muslims as the advocating of separatist agendas.

Muslims as British citizens, like all others, have a right and a duty to be actively engaged in the shaping and influencing of political and media debates about our society, our politics, our values and our shared future. MEND aims to facilitate this dialogue and exchange by supporting Muslims around the UK to be more actively involved in media and politics at the local and national level. MEND aims to ensure that media and political debate in and on the UK is more representative and more robust through greater Muslim participation. MEND also aims to encourage Muslims to work for the common good through active participation in civic and voluntary bodies such as parent – governor associations, friendship societies and through volunteering.

8. Why should I MEND? Can a single individual make a difference?

Shifting the burden of responsibility for affecting change in a society onto others is tantamount to neglect and indifference and is – in our view – not a responsible attitude towards life. If you don’t take an interest in those issues that shape your quality of life, or actively work to influence decisions that will shape your quality of life, one of two things will happen:

Firstly, your views and concerns will not be reflected in debates about those things you care about and which matter to you. Secondly, you will leave open a vacuum to be filled by those who will speak out and act on issues which may affect you. Where you remain silent others will advance and their objectives could well impact on you.

The success of the BNP in steadily increasing its number of councillors in local authorities presents a direct challenge to Muslims to either get involved or to sit back and watch as they become the targets of campaigns determined to stir up hatred of them and their religion. Indeed, the increased anti-Muslim prejudice in our society is not merely confined to far-right parties such as the BNP. Anti-Muslim prejudice has become far more mainstream in recent years.

Individuals can make a difference. Initiatives for change start with a single determined individual who connects, through argument and persuasion, with others in defence of a common objective. It is when individuals take that first step that movements for social change begin.

9. How will MEND advance social cohesion?

Social cohesion is better attained through the active participation of all citizens in all spheres of society, economy and politics. It is also fostered through the cultivation and preservation of a public culture that values all citizens regardless of their religious, racial or ethnic backgrounds. In an effort to improve citizen participation the government has added teaching on active citizenship to the national curriculum in England and Wales. MEND aims to encourage and enable active citizenship by British Muslims.

10. Is MEND affiliated to any political organisation?

No. ENGAGE is a venture that is independent of all political affiliations. MEND supports and complements the work of all political associations that aim to improve the level and quality of engagement from vulnerable and excluded communities.

11. I would like to support MEND. What can I do?

You can:

  • Download and distribute the MEND pocket guide on engaging with the media and politics
  • Organise an event in your local area and invite MEND officials to speak to your local community on how to get started
  • Sign up for our email alerts to be kept informed of developments and MEND meetings around the UK and help publicise them in your local area
  • Financially support MEND by making a donation. Click on the ‘Support MEND’ section for details on how to make a donation

12. Who speaks for MEND?

MEND would like to clarify that recent controversial views expressed by Inayat Bunglawala do not represent the views of MEND.

The views and opinions of MEND are expressed by its Trustees alone. No other persons are authorized to speak on behalf of MEND. Our employees are clearly listed in the MEND team section, which can be consulted here.