MCB's new head signals more of the same?
Let's hope the election of Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari as head of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is not an act of entrenched cronnyism, nor an indication of its abject failure to transform itself in the light of persistent criticisms of its relationships to New Labour, its leadership style and it's failure to actually represent Britiain's diverse and demographically young Muslim population.
Bari has been deputy Secretary General of the MCB for 4 years, and like his predecessor Iqbal Sacranie, has been honoured by the government which effectively bought the organisation into existence. Bari is an MBE, as well as being a Chairman of the East London Mosque
Muslims outside the UK wondering why a scholar is not head of the MCB should note that, in the UK, Pakistani mosque committees often hold complete authority over their Imams, who are viewed by as being kammi (village servants), although Bari is himself of Bangladeshi origin.
Bari's first policy concerns - youth representation in mosques, the Muslim vote - he had a role in getting George Galloway elected - and concerns over 'extremism', also indicates MCB are set to continue sharing a policy platform with the over-zealous Net campaigners MPACUK.
The MCB/MPACUK good guy/bad guy act is now well known to the more astute commentators of the British Muslim scene, with MCB issuing polite correspondence to the mainstream press in a crisis, whilst MPACUK flexes its muscle and frothes at the mouth.
Let's hope Bari doesn't make the same mistake as Iqbal Sacranie, who initially supported Britiain's imperial escapes in Afghanistan, but was forced to change his tack (much to Blair's annoyance) as a result of huge pressure from within the British Muslim community.
Sacranie was decribed as a 'lunatic' by commentator Zia Sardar, who like many British Muslims saw him as an embarrassment. Insha Allah, let's pray Dr. Bari is able and willing to steer MCB a more honourable direction, which is both responsive to British Muslim youth and diversity, as well as leading us towards a more just and peaceful future.