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MAB, Cage and Mend: Who are the Muslim groups Michael Gove accuses of extremism?

Speaking in parliament, Gove labelled the Muslim Association of Britain, Cage International and Mend extremist. But who are they and what do they do?
The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) is a key organiser for the pro-Palestine protests in London (AFP)

The UK's communities secretary Michael Gove on Thursday used a speech in parliament to name three Muslim organisations that he said the government intended to "hold to account" using a new definition of extremism.

The three organisations, which Gove accused of having an "Islamist orientation", are the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), Cage International, and Mend.

Gove said: "Organisations such as the Muslim Association of Britain, which is the British affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and other groups such as Cage and Mend, give rise to concern for the Islamist orientation and views. We will be holding these and other organisations to account to assess if they meet our definition of extremism and we will take action as appropriate."

MAB and Mend both challenged Gove to repeat his remarks outside of the House of Commons where he would not be protected by parliamentary privilege. Cage International also said in a statement it would look at legal avenues to challenge the government.

Below, Middle East Eye looks at the three organisations named by Gove.

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Muslim Association of Britain 

Founded in 1997, the Muslim Association of Britain, or MAB, has been a staple of the Muslim community over decades. 

Having evolved from the Muslim Student Society (MSS), formed in 1961 and the Muslim Women Society (MWS), MAB describes itself as a national movement with thousands of members across the UK. 

MAB has a long track record of organising politically and was one of the first Muslim groups to organise Muslim voter drives and encourage Muslims to vote in local and national elections. 

Alongside being a founding member of the Muslim Council of Britain, MAB has also helped organise the largest demonstrations in UK history against the war in Iraq and in support of Palestine. 

Key figures who have worked with MAB include Anas al-Tikriti, a former president, and Daud Abdullah, the former deputy secretary-general of the MCB.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Muslim Welfare House in 2017 after a van drove down worshippers leaving the mosque
Theresa May, the then prime minister, visited the Muslim Welfare House and the Finsbury Park Mosque in 2017 after a van drove down worshippers leaving the two mosques (AFP)

MAB's Raghad Altikriti, who heads the group, challenged Gove to make the statement outside of parliament where he could be legally challenged. 

"Singling out mainstream, law-abiding British Muslim organisations who have contributed to the common good, sets a dangerous precedent, undermining democracy, religious freedoms, and free speech," said Altikriti.

"Michael Gove shamelessly abuses parliamentary privilege to deflect scrutiny and accountability."

MAB also has links to the Muslim Welfare House in north London and is reported to have helped to get rid of Abu Hamza from the Finsbury Park Mosque. 

In 2017, the Muslim Welfare House was attacked when a van drove into worshippers leaving the mosque, resulting in several injuries and one fatality. 

Cage International 

Cage International, formerly known simply as Cage and before that as Cageprisoners, is a UK-based advocacy organisation founded in 2003.

The group was established in response to the detention of individuals without trial at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, particularly focusing on the case of Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim who was held there.

Initially, Cageprisoners aimed to raise awareness about the plight of Guantanamo Bay detainees and advocate for their release.

But as the organisation expanded its scope, it began addressing broader issues related to counter-terrorism policies, human rights abuses, and civil liberties violations, particularly within the context of the "War on Terror".

In 2013, Cageprisoners rebranded itself as Cage, reflecting its broader focus beyond the specific issue of Guantanamo Bay. The organisation continued its advocacy work, providing legal support, campaigning against torture and rendition, and challenging government policies that it deemed discriminatory or unjust.

Moazzam Begg is a prominent member of Cage International, which helped free him from Guantanamo Bay when he was detained by US forces (AFP)

Cage has been involved in high-profile cases, including those of individuals detained under anti-terrorism laws in the UK, as well as advocacy on behalf of victims of drone strikes and other forms of targeted killing.

The organisation has faced criticism and controversy over its views on terrorism and extremism, with some accusing it of sympathising with or providing a platform for radical ideologies.

In 2015, the then prime minister David Cameron accused Cage of being apologists for terrorism - an allegation Cage vehemently denies.

In response to Gove's statement, Cage said it would "explore all avenues, including legal, to challenge the government's deep dive into authoritarianism".


Mend (Muslim Engagement and Development) is one the of the UK's most prominent Muslim organisations. Established in 2008, Mend focuses on addressing issues of Islamophobia, discrimination, and social injustice within Muslim communities.

Mend describes its primary purpose as empowering and engaging British Muslims to actively participate in society while advocating for their rights and interests. The organisation works towards challenging negative stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims, promoting a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Mend's activities include community outreach programmes, educational workshops, and campaigns aimed at raising awareness about Islamophobia and combating prejudice.

The organisation also provides resources and support for victims of discrimination and hate crimes, as well as offering training on how to respond to and report instances of Islamophobia.

Azhar Qayum, chief executive of Mend, said: “We challenge Michael Gove to repeat his claims outside of parliament and without the protection of parliamentary privilege if he believes he can provide the evidence to back up his view that Mend has called for the establishment of an ‘Islamic state governed by sharia law’.”

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