Monday, June 05, 2006


The Muslim Council of Britain has chosen Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari to be their new Secretary-General. The BBC gives very few details in their report:
He was chosen from a field of 37 candidates to succeed Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the post holder since 2002.

Mr [sic?] Bari, a 52-year-old Bangladeshi, is a specialist teacher in behaviour support for Tower Hamlets Council.
So far so good. Wander over to their profile of him and you'll find:
As chairman of the East London Mosque he was considered instrumental in helping controversial MP George Galloway secure his parliamentary seat by telling Muslims they had a duty to vote in the last general election, thus ensuring a healthy turnout.
Not that he's too chummy with George, mind you. He was just as disgusted by the Gorgeous one frolicking in a catsuit on Celebrity Big Brother as the rest of us:
Dr Bari told The Times: "It’s a matter of decency. A lot of us find his behaviour very strange."
That aside, one flaw the BBC neglect to remind us of is his appalling judge of character, as witnessed during his interview for Panorama last year. It's worth reading the transcript again:
John Ware: Several MCB affiliates do have links to anti western ideologies from abroad.

The Deputy General Secretary of the MCB is Dr Abdul Bari.

He's also Chairman of the East London Mosque which has maintained good relations with other local faith groups.

Last year a £10m new Islamic centre was opened.

The guests included Christian leaders. The Chief Rabbi and Prince Charles also sent goodwill messages.

The guest of honour was one of the most prominent clerics from Saudi Arabia - the most austere Islamic state in the world whose ideology is the polar opposite of secular Britain.

But London's East End is home to many faiths and the Sheikh's theme was tolerance.

Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais, Imam, Ka'ba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia: The history of Islam is the best testament to how different communities can live together in peace and harmony. Muslims must exemplify the true image of Islam in their interaction with other communities.

John Ware: Sheikh Sudais is a leading Imam from the great mosque in Mecca, Islam's holiest city.

He had one voice for his Western audience - another for his followers in Saudi.

Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: The worst ... of the enemies of Islam are those... whom he... made monkeys and pigs, the aggressive Jews and oppressive Zionists and those that follow them: the callers of the trinity and the cross worshippers... those influenced by the rottenness of their ideas, and the poison of their cultures the followers of secularism... How can we talk sweetly when the Hindus and the idol worshippers indulge in their overwhelming hatred against our brothers... in Muslim Kashmir...

John Ware: The East London mosque received $1m from the Saudis towards their new centre. The mosque's links to Saudi go back many years.

The mosque's Chairman Dr Bari remains to be convinced that his honoured guest Sheikh Sudais has repeatedly vilified other faiths.

John Ware: Do I take it that if you were satisfied he had said such things you would not have invited him over?

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Chairman, East London Mosque, Deputy Secretary General, Muslim Council Of Britain: Well of course if it was proved that he exactly said this thing that you mentioned then why do you invited people who would be saying like this?

John Ware: I mean, let me say what else he's reported to have said, he said: 'There should be no peace with the rats of the world.' Again he refers to Jews as the scum of the human race, offspring of apes and pigs, and he has also referred to Christians as worshippers of the cross.' You don't see Christians in those terms?

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: I don't see Christians in those terms.

John Ware: You don't see Christians in those terms?

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: No.

John Ware: No. And idol worship, you don't see Hindus as idol worshippers, do you? I'm sure you don't, do you? Do you?

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Well... why are you bringing all this?

John Ware: You, er, I mean you do not regard Hindus as idol worshippers?

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Well Hindu... you mean the definition? When it's idol worshipper, different people worship God in different manners.

John Ware: Mmm.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Once again you are entering into the theological debate and Muslims worship one monotheistic God and many other communities may have different versions of God.

John Ware: No, I understand that.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: The Trinity may be one of them.

John Ware: I understand that.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: And it all depends how you use the word and explain the word.

John Ware: Sure, but this is harsh.. you wouldn't... I mean no, I accept all that, but this is different, isn't it. This is very harsh language; this in effect denounces other faiths, Hindus, Christians and Jews.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: Well denouncing any faith is not acceptable in Islam, that's not the Prophetic teaching. We need to know the source of this and this is very dangerous thing, that character assassination of Muslim scholars and leaders are getting very widespread.

John Ware: I'm not trying to assassinate his character I'm simply trying to deal with the facts. That's all I'm trying to do.

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari: No, I know, you are mentioning... you are saying facts but we have a question whether these are facts.

John Ware: The facts are easily checkable - we found a selection of the Sheikh's sermons on a Saudi website covering mosques in the holy cities of Medina and Mecca - with English translations.

Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais: Monkeys and pigs and worshippers of false Gods who are the Jews and the Zionists.

John Ware: The $1m gift from the Saudis to the East London Mosque is but a drop in the ocean compared to the billions they've spent spreading their narrow form of Islam around the world.
Not the sharpest tool in the box then.

In a recent discussion on Pickled Politics, Sunny made his feelings about the man perfectly clear:
Mohammed Abdul Bari - yes of course. I didn’t even think of him. I was in a debate with the guy once. His English was bloody terrible. If he takes over the MCB is truly doomed.
I wonder if that's a line he'll be sticking to?

Personally, I'm not encouraged by his election either. Someone who can't spot Islamist extremism when it's dangled under his nose may not be best suited to deal with the problem of home-grown extremism, a task that as head of the MCB he ought to be in a better position to tackle than most.

At the very worst, Dr Bari does have one major asset his detractors cannot ignore - a truly formidable barnet:


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