Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/12/2011 (3516 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
After a lengthy, heated and very public leadership battle involving the courts, the Manitoba Islamic Association quietly elected its new president Sunday.
"The main priority is to establish harmony and bring order to the association," said Ismael Mukhtar, who replaces former president Dr. Naseer Warraich. Warraich did not run for re-election and was not prepared to comment Monday.
Under Warraich's leadership, the Islamic association's administration changed four times in the past couple of years. Warraich, who ran unsuccessfully as a Tory candidate in the provincial election, had filed civil suits against a dozen former board members, accusing them of defaming him.
Association members went to court to ask for an election overseer to be appointed to make sure voting was fair because they didn't trust Warraich running the election.
The court appointed former federal justice minister Otto Lang as election overseer. Lang quit after Warraich's lawyer quit. The court then appointed the accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers to oversee the election Sunday.
Mukhtar said he's working with the new executive to get the association's Grand Mosque on Waverley and Hazelwood in the south end of the city back on track.
"We have great support from the community and everybody is excited," said the accountant and father of three. "I think all of the issues are behind us," said Mukhtar, who described himself as a moderate.
"Our priority is to have policies and procedures in place and to put the house in order," said Mukhtar. "It will bring peace and harmony to the organization if we work within the framework of policy."
Some of the discord at the Muslim association, members said, was the hardline attitude of the former leadership and its imam, or spiritual leader.
Jude Kasas complained that his wife was yelled at during prayers for not being completely behind the barrier separating men from women, and the youth group wasn't allowed to use the mosque. The imam was the main source of conflict, he said Monday.
"Any person in a mosque should be treated with respect," responded Mukhtar, the new president of the Islamic association. He said the policies and procedures being prepared now spell out the rules so there aren't conflicts in the future.
"The imam is an employee of the association," said Mukhtar. All association employees will have to abide by the policies he expects the board to have in place in a few weeks.
Kasas is hopeful. "We expect from them to open the mosque to all of us and allow the community once again to use the facility and have all kinds of events and activities in it," he said.
Another Muslim Winnipegger said she hopes to see women on the board one day.
"My hope is that women will be full partners in the future," said Shahina Siddiqui, the executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association. "MIA was built up by women and we need to go back to that tradition."
Siddiqui had some advice for Mukhtar and the new all-male board.
"Be humble, just, inclusive and transparent. And follow the example of the Prophet by doing consultations before making decisions," she said. "Co-operate and collaborate with other Muslim organizations and build on your strengths."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.