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Muslim Council of Britain elects its first female leader

26th Feb 2021
Muslim Council of Britain elects its first female leader

Hassan Joudi, Senior Engineer, has been re-elected as MCB’s Deputy Secretary-General. (Photo credit: Abdulmukith Ahmed/MCB)

Elham Asaad Buaras

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has elected its first female, Scottish as well as its first youngest leader on January 31. Zara Mohammed, 29, a training and development consultant from Glasgow, was elected Secretary-General by the affiliates of MCB.

Mohammed, a Master’s graduate in Human Rights Law and former Assistant Secretary-General for MCB, succeeds Harun Khan, who has completed a maximum of four years as the head of the umbrella body. Khan said, “I wish the very best of success to Zara Mohammed – may she continue to lead this organisation to greater heights for the betterment of our communities across the country.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said her election was “terrific” news. Tory Peer Sayeeda Warsi said it was “a huge moment.” Mohammed won the majority of affiliate votes (107 votes to 60) beating Ajmal Masroor, an Imam, teacher and broadcaster.

“May God bless Zara to deliver on this trust, May God bless MCB so that it can be a truly representative body of the diverse Muslim community in the UK and may God bless those who have taken part in the election,” said Masroor.

In an interview with The Muslim News Mohammed said continuing “providing tailored guidance and support for Muslim communities” during the pandemic was among her most pressing issues.

“We now know that BAME communities, of which a significant proportion of Muslim communities are a part, have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19. So, it remains a priority for us to continue working to both address immediate public health-related concerns, including improving access to, and uptake of, Covid-19 vaccination and addressing the structural inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”

She will also deal with the increasing Islamophobia in society. “It will also be important for us to raise awareness of the pervasive nature of Islamophobia, a greater understanding of what it constitutes, and lead on ways in which communities can work together to tackle it – our Centre for Media Monitoring and dedicated Public Affairs department will prove instrumental in this regard. Of course, there are many projects that the MCB runs.”

On the importance of becoming the first female leader of the UK’s largest democratic Muslim NGO, Mohammed, who hold a masters and human rights law, said she hopes her election will inspire confidence in other young women.

“My appointment shows that Muslim women can lead and that our communities and our affiliates are rooted in are supportive of a culture of diversity, one that empowers young people. Not only am I the first woman, but also the youngest ever elected; I believe this is a great step towards challenging prevailing stereotypes and misconceptions. Going forth, I feel there is a responsibility for me to ensure I give more young people, women and diverse groups the opportunity to lead and shape a future that belongs to them,” she said.

Asked what she has learned during her tenure as Assistant General Secretary and how she hopes to improve the running of MCB. Mohammed said, “I have previously been part of a yearlong governance review process in which we have been examining our structures and processes. This work will be of great benefit, helping us become a more sustainable organisation and able to serve our affiliates better.

Furthermore, I have been part of our national Covid-19 response work, which has yielded a national platform for our affiliates and non-affiliates to work together in support of the national efforts in this vein. Our Covid-19 response work has showcased the MCB’s ability to inspire collective leadership, whilst highlighting the best our communities have to offer. I hope to take this learning forward, working in partnership with our affiliates to continue to deliver such vital interventions.”

On MCB’s stagnant membership issue, Mohammed said the rate of MCB affiliation “has increased by double within the last twelve months. During the pandemic, we have seen a great interest in the MCB, with organisations seeking membership because they have seen the benefit of the work we have been doing. New affiliates include disabled representative groups, youth groups, revert groups, professional bodies and organisation that represent different ethnic minority communities with Muslim communities. There is more work to be done, nonetheless, I hope to continue on this path of steady growth, insha’Allah.”

Hassan Joudi, Senior Engineer, has been re-elected as MCB’s Deputy Secretary-General.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

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