The Letters Editor
1 Pennington Street
London E98 1XY
12 Feb 2007
While ex-MPs like Roy Hattersley had the decency and courage to speak up against a blanket rubbishing of an entire community, the honourable MP for Dewsbury (Stop whingeing and show leadership - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/arti) whom the New Labour selected wily nilly because he happened to be a Muslim, has rarely, if ever, stood in defence of his own constituents, let alone the British Muslim community. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) like so many Muslims in west Yorkshire and across the country had high hopes and supported the candidacy of Mr. Shahid Malik. Sadly, once he ascended the ladder to which he aspired he seems to have turned his back on the very people who had placed so much trust in him.
Looking back to the Burnley riots in June 2001, we can now understand it a little. Then in his own words: "The riot shield [was] smashed in my face, causing four to five stitches above the eye, a black eye, lacerations to the arm, bruises on the back of the head, on the body and on the legs". This spectacle of a bloodied-face Labour's national executive member as well as a commissioner at the Commission for Racial Equality was relayed over and over again by all television channels. Shahid Malik was also held by the police. He said he was arrested by a "very hyped-up" police in riot gear when he had been trying to stop the violence and said he plans to sue the police.
Two things are evident: One, the police can get "very hyped-up" and act unprofessionally. Two, here was a politician who is not able to defend his own dignity, so don’t blame if he cannot stand up for the larger community.
As a public body, the MCB can only welcome any criticism and feedback from every quarter. More is always less, when it came to discussion on public interest questions. However, in this case, some in the community seem to think this was perhaps a cry for some higher job. But that was for the prime minister to evaluate.
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 57330,
London E15 1NT