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Monday, June 27, 2022

Secretary general of Muslim Council of Britain to meet with Kirklees political leaders except the council’s only Muslim leader Shabir Pandor

Zara Mohammed, the first female secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, is visiting communities, mosques, and local political leaders in Dewsbury and Batley this weekend, but interestingly not the leader of the council, Cllr Shabir Pandor.

Elected in February 2021, Zara Mohammed is the first female, first Scot and youngest ever Secretary General of the UK’s largest and most diverse Muslim representative organisation.

Since her election, a key priority for Ms Mohammed has been to visit communities across the UK, to inspire girls and young women to aspire for leadership and shine a light on the contributions of British Muslim communities to Society.

Over the weekend, Ms Mohammed will visit Dewsbury and Batley in Kirklees, meeting community members, mosques and charities, and local community members. Ms Mohammed will also be giving the keynote address at the Indian Muslim Welfare Society’s Annual Lecture.

Zara Mohammed is the MCB’s youngest and first female general secretary.

Ms Mohammed’s visit comes as Kirklees has become a hotbed for misinformation and fake news around the Muslim community. In 2015, the daily mail derogatively dubbed Dewsbury as a “breeding ground for terror”, after a 17-year-boy was groomed into becoming “Britain’s youngest suicide bomber”.

A year ago this month, a row emerged at Batley Grammar school following a white teacher showing an offensive cartoon of Prophet Muhammad to his students that prompted an independent investigation. The teacher was cleared of causing deliberate offence and was told he can return to work but has not done so yet.

On the itinerary, Ms Mohammed will visit the Taleem Centre in Saville Town’s Girls Group, Batley Girl’s High School, North Kirklees Interfaith Council, as well as mosques and charities working on the ground in West Yorkshire and abroad.

She will be meeting with local political leaders including the Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, Deputy Mayor of Policing & Crime Alison Lowe OBE, Kim Leadbeater MP for Batley and Spen and Mark Eastwood MP for Dewsbury. Interestingly, she will not be meeting with any Muslim political leaders, including Cllr Shabir Pandor, the leader of Kirklees Council.

Kirklees Council’s only Muslim leader not to meet with MCB general-secretary this weekend.

Abdul A Ravat, vice-chair of Manningham Housing Association, a player and development officer at Batley cricket club Mount CC, and member of MCB’s Research and Documentation committee, who has helped organise Ms Mohammed’s trip to Kirklees, said: “Conversations are continuing.

“The purpose of Ms Mohammed’s visit to Dewsbury and Batley this weekend is to deliver a keynote speech at the annual Indian Muslim Welfare Society’s Lecture. MCB is a membership organisation of Muslim-based organisations that do work in their communities. The wider purpose of spending the weekend here is to take the opportunity to understand Muslims in the community in Batley and Dewsbury.

“As she is visiting the constituents in Batley and Dewsbury, Ms Mohammed will be seeing the respective MPs of those constituencies. Tracy Brabin is involved, as like Ms Mohammed, she is a woman and the first metro mayor of West Yorkshire. Women in leadership is key for Ms Mohammed as the secretary general at the MCB.”

He added: “We are discussing opportunities to meet with Cllr Pandor in a non-official capacity, but we will not sway away from the set agenda of the programme.”

Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain Zara Mohammed said: “I take great pleasure in meeting our communities across the country, and I am grateful to those who helped to put this visit together. It is inspiring to see the contributions British Muslims make to their local communities, every single day.

“As a national organisation, we have to be connected to our grassroots in places like Dewsbury and Batley, because our success nationally, lies in their hard work locally.”

Asian Standard has reached out to Kirklees Council for a statement. Check back for updates.

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