"Difficult and testing times no doubt, but the British Muslim community has also risen to the challenges and, thank God, they look forward to the future with courage and confidence. Muslims do not believe in self-exclusion, they believe in working together with the rest of the nation in order to build a fairer and better Britain," said Iqbal Sacranie this weekend.
Mr Sacranie was presenting his end of year report to the 7th Annual General Assembly of the Muslim Council of Britain in Brent Town Hall, London, 22nd May 2004. The meeting, attended by more than 400 guests and delegates from its national affiliates, unanimously re-elected Iqbal Sacranie to a second two year term of office as Secretary-General of the MCB. Mr Sacranie also served as the first Secretary-General of the MCB. Mr Sacranie accepted the position of Secretary General and its heavy responsibilities with some reluctance but relayed the hope that with a greater level of support alongside the confidence and trust shown by the unanimous re-election, he would be able to discharge his duties effectively.
"The British Muslim community is facing a defining moment. We are not, and cannot be, a community that is content with agitating from the sidelines against perceived ills and injustices. We must be a community that is firmly committed to participation at every level of society for the common good of all our fellow citizens. That has been the MCB's ethos right from its inception," said Mr Sacranie.
Mr Sacranie noted that the past year had seen some significant and highly proactive developments among British Muslims, including the launch of the MCBDirect's Community Information Portal to deal with the large amount of requests to do with information on Islam and the Muslim community; the imaginative Books4Schools initiative to equip schools with the materials that teachers need in order to present to children a correct understanding of Islam and Muslims; the scrapping of Robert Kilroy-Silk's TV show following vigorous protests led by the MCB's media committee about Kilroy's anti-Arab and anti-Muslim remarks; the release of five of the nine British Muslim detainees from Guantanamo Bay following MCB representations to the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith; the clear assurances from several Government Ministers that Britain would not be following the intolerant example of France by seeking to ban the hijab in schools; information dissemination and training organised by the MCB on the new religious discrimination laws affecting employees and employers; the start of the ground-breaking MCB Leadership Development Programme to help develop the skill set of future Muslim leadership and encourage capacity building; giving voice to the widespread British Muslim opposition to the war and disastrous ongoing occupation of Iraq; as well as many other achievements which he outlined in his Annual Report.
At the same time, Mr Sacranie also urged the police and authorities to show greater caution and sensitivity in the exercise of their powers:
"There have been far too many cases of wrongful arrests of British Muslims and miscarriages of justice. The recently published MPA report on the Metropolitan Police's 'Stop and Search' powers have revealed how they have been used unfairly and devastatingly especially against Muslims. Just as an entire generation of young black people were alienated through 'Stop and Search' practice, we are deeply worried that the same thing is now occurring again, this time to young Muslim men. This cannot be allowed to go on," said Mr Sacranie.
On the international front, Mr Sacranie strongly urged our government to follow the condemnation of the brutal and illegal actions taken by the Israeli government against the Palestinians with actions against the Israeli government which would bring an end to this long period of brutal occupation for the Palestinian Lands. "Britain bears a primary burden of rectifying its historic wrongs to the Palestinian people. Just as it bears a historic burden of responsibility to the people of Jammu and Kashmir to let them exercise their right of self determination through a UN supervised plebicite. We hope and pray that the Iraqi people would soon be free from the unmitigated disaster of foreign occupation."
The MCB Annual General Meeting also elected members to the MCB's Central Working Committee. Dr Abdul Bari was elected as the Deputy Secretary-General and Dr Akber Mohamedali elected to the post of MCB Treasurer.
Note for Editors:
To see the full Annual Report presented at the MCB's Annual General Meeting go to: http://www.mcb.org.uk/agm2004.pdf
The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK's representative Muslim umbrella body with nearly 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.
For further information please contact tel: 07956 353 738 or 07939 472 998
For further information please contact the MCB:
The Muslim Council of Britain,
PO Box 57330,
Tel: 0845 26 26 786
Fax: 0207 247 7079