The Chairman of the CMF, Lord Sheikh, has prepared the report below summarising the CMF’s activities over the last year. It is published here to share it more widely.
Conservative Muslim Forum Report 2013-14
Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF) is now a potent organisation and the number of our members and supporters exceed 2,500. The secretariat of the Forum is based at CCHQ and the executive secretary is Shaheen Mahmood. Our members and supporters include Muslims and non-Muslims in different parts of the country and the profile of members of our executive committee is also on this basis. Shaheen Mahmood receives considerable support from members of the executive committee and there is constant communication between Shaheen Mahmood and members and supporters of the Forum. Our executive committee meets regularly on a monthly basis and all the proceedings are appropriately minuted.
We do have a website which is updated regularly detailing the various activities and also contains other relevant information. Our web address is www.conservativemuslimforum.com
CMF is on Facebook and Twitter which allows our readers to post their comments. Our Deputy Chairman, Mohammed Amin, has the responsibility of updating our website and dealing with our Facebook and Twitter accounts.
We have a constitution which is strictly followed. The constitution of the Forum lists nine objectives which include the following:
- Engage with Muslims of all persuasions and encourage them to participate in political life at all levels, from grassroots to Parliament.
- Engage with Muslims and all other communities and encourage them to support and vote for the Conservative Party.
- Undertake campaigning for the Conservative Party at elections and other times.
- Encourage Muslims to make effective and positive contributions to the development of an inclusive and cohesive society in the United Kingdom.
- Work to maintain and build bridges with all communities and religions within the United Kingdom.
According to our constitution we hold our general elections every three years and the AGM relating to this took place on the 6th May 2014. The office bearers who were elected are as follows:-
- Chairman – Lord Sheikh,
- Deputy Chairman – Mohammed Amin,
- Treasurer – Nash Jaffer,
- Secretary – Faruk Miah.
In addition nine members of the Executive were elected. The elections were overseen by an independent scrutiniser and he was Mr Iqbal Asaria CBE.
Campaigning by CMF
- We are actively involved in promoting and canvassing for the Party. This includes attending meetings and functions organised by various constituencies, leafleting, door to door canvassing, and telephone canvassing at CCHQ
- Our Deputy Chairman, Mohammed Amin and the executive secretary, Shaheen Mahmood maintain contact with the various departments at CCHQ to facilitate the campaigning. These also include meetings with Alok Sharma MP and Michelle Bannister to co-ordinate and discuss ideas for the continuous campaign work. Our Deputy Chairman and our executive secretary or a member of the executive will make it a point to attend the meetings whenever these are called. The ideas which are discussed would then be implemented relating to what CMF can undertake.
- I recently had a meeting with Lynton Crosby regarding campaign work undertaken by CMF.
- The campaign work is concentrating on 40/40 seats but we would like to point out that we receive requests for other PPCs and we do render support if this is possible. This support includes providing them with the necessary material, telephone canvassing and attendance at meetings.
- With the primary objective of concentrating on the 40/40 seats in the London area we have taken responsibility of undertaking campaigning in the following constituencies, Enfield North, Harrow West, Brentford & Isleworth. I have myself actively participated in canvassing in these constituencies.
- In order to assist in canvassing, CMF has produced the following documents:- (1)“Why should Muslims vote Conservative”. (2) “Why non-Muslim Party members should join the CMF”. (3) “Winning Muslim Votes”. (4) “Does Islam allow British Muslims to vote?” These documents have been circulated widely.
- Some members of our executive committee are actively involved in assisting the party at local level and they have been prominent in rendering support in the local council elections. These areas include Chipping Barnet, Croydon, Finchley Central and Newham. We have two members of the executive committee who are local Councillors.
- CMF members also rendered support to the candidates for the European elections and provided help particularly to Syed Kamal MEP and Sajjad Karim MEP.
- With regard to the impending election at Newark, our executive secretary and several members of the Forum are rendering support and in fact have been leafleting, campaigning door to door and telephone canvassing.
Establishment of CMF Branches and Campaign work undertaken by the CMF branches
Over the last year we have established the following branches
i Yorkshire and Humber.
A branch has been established in Bradford for the region and Mrs Itrat Ali is the Chairman. I along with Mohammed Amin (Deputy Chairman), Shaheen Mahmood (executive secretary), Lady Sheikh, Raja Najabat Hussain and other members of the executive were present at the launch of the branch.
Mrs Itrat Ali and members of CMF have undertaken the following activities:
- Launch meeting for Timothy Kirkhope MEP at a lunch followed by a day of canvassing.
- Huddersfield meeting held with Jason McCartney MP in support of local council candidates.
- Support of Dewsbury Conservatives, at Annual Ball and fundraiser in aid of Simon Reevell MP and canvassing for local council candidates.
- Meeting with prominent members of the business community in Bradford attended by Shailesh Vara MP (Justice Minister).
- Canvassing for local council candidates for Pudsey.
- Canvassing at Newark by-election.
In early December 2013, I, with Lady Sheikh, Shaheen Mahmood, Mohammed Amin, Mrs Tahara Amin and Asif Ayub travelled to Yorkshire and addressed four meetings which were very well attended, in Bradford, Dewsbury and Keighley. We were also involved in networking and meeting business people in the area.
ii CMF East Midlands
We launched a branch in Nottingham in the presence of Anna Soubry MP and Neville Baxter, local Association Chairman. The Chairman of East Midlands is Cllr Halimah Khaled. The branch will undertake canvassing in the Broxtowe Constituency where Anna Soubry MP has a small majority. They will also undertake canvassing in surrounding Constituencies. I also attended and spoke at a dinner organised by Cllr Halimah Khaled in Nottingham and Anna Soubry MP was present.
iii CMF Wales
At the Welsh Conservative Party Conference which was held in Llangollen Pavilion on 11th and 12th April 2014, CMF branch in Wales was launched. The Chairman of CMF Wales is Dr Altaf Hussain. The Secretary of State for Wales, The Rt. Hon David Jones MP together with Chairman of Welsh Conservatives Cllr. Jeffery James were present. Both of them expressed strong support for CMF and it was felt necessary that the party should reach out to the Muslims in areas such as Cardiff, Swansea and Newport. CMF also had a stand at the Conference and we were pleased to meet the Prime Minister when he visited the Welsh Conference.
Activities of various groups of CMF
1. CMF Health
CMF has a health group chaired by Dr Alam Ara Khan and a meeting was organised for the members and other guests which was address by the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP. It was an interactive session and the event was very well attended. The group also arranged a meeting and the subject was “First Cousin Marriage – the Science and the implications”. The speakers included Dr Peter Corry, Dr Ghulam Abbas and Mohammed Amin.
2. CMF Women
CMF Women’s group which is headed by Sana Kahloon, arranged a meeting with Saira Khan who spoke on the subject of “Integrate or Disintegrate”. It was indeed an inspirational speech and Saira Khan was able to explain how she has achieved success in the United Kingdom and overcome difficulties. Saira Khan is a well know figure and she shot to fame when she came second in the BBC programme “The Apprentice” in 2005.
3. CMF Youth
The CMF Youth headed by Raza Anjum arranged a meeting which was addressed by Rory Stewart MP, the subject was entitled – “The endgame in Afghanistan: Opportunities and Challenges”
4. CMF Councillors
CMF in association with Conservative Local Government Association is holding a seminar on Wednesday 18th June on the subject of “Be a Local Councillor”. Members of the Conservative Party are invited and the speakers will include, myself, Alok Sharma MP, senior party members and councillors.
Empowerment of Women
I with members of the executive committee of the Forum are strongly of the belief that women should be empowered which entails education and equality with regard to jobs. I have in my speeches at various places as well as in my networking have promoted the matter of empowerment. We arranged a meeting which was addressed by Dr Sibel Siber, Speaker of the Parliament of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Dr Siber was also the first female Prime Minister of the country. The meeting was very well attended and she spoke on “The Empowerment of Women” and also referred to her own experiences and how she achieved success.
Conservative Party Conference
CMF had a stand at the Conservative Party Conference held in Manchester and which was manned by Shaheen Mahmood and other members of the Committee. The stand was busy and we were able to talk to a number of parliamentarians and existing members. We were also able to enrol new members.
I as the Co-Chairman of the All Party Group on Islamic Finance and Mohammed Amin who is a specialist on Islamic Finance spoke at a meeting held at the Conference on the subject of “Islamic Finance”.
CMF also held a dinner which was very well attended and the speakers included the Rt. Hon Andrew Lansley MP and Kris Hopkins MP.
I also spoke at a dinner organised by Conservative Association of Manchester on the subject of “British Economy and Overseas Trade”.
Conservative Party Spring Conference
Mohammed Amin, Dr Altaf Hussain (Chairman of CMF Wales) and Faruk Miah (CMF Secretary) attended the Conservative Party Spring Conference which was held in London. The Conference was a marvellous occasion which gave our representatives opportunities for networking with other attendees and Conservative Parliamentarians.
Conservative Policy Forum Winter Conference held in Leeds
Mohammed Amin, Faruk Miah, Raja Najabat Hussain and Dr. Ghulam Abbas, attended the Conference, met senior politicians and discussed with them our views to improve the performance of the Party.
CMF event at CCHQ for Conservative Local and PPC candidates.
A meeting was held by the Candidates Department which was attended by parliamentary and local council candidates. The Candidates Department wanted input from the CMF relating to canvassing for the ethnic minorities. There was a team from CMF making contributions on the subject and the team was made up of the following Committee Members, Mohammed Amin, Cllr Jeanne-Maria Douglas, Cllr Asif Ayub, Fuad Hamzeh, Ajantha Tennakoon and Shaheen Mahmood.
CMF delegation visits European Parliament
A visit to the European Parliament was arranged for members of the Forum. As the European elections were taking place in 2014 and David Cameron’s pledge for referendum is scheduled for 2017, CMF members took the opportunity to meet with Syed Kamall MEP to better explore the UK’s role in Europe. This enabled the delegation to have a better understanding of the European Parliament and its various activities. CMF members were of course involved in undertaking campaign work for the party in the recent European elections
CMF Eid ul-Adha event
CMF held a reception and dinner to celebrate the festival of Eid ul-Adha. The festival has relevance in all three Abrahamic faiths of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Members of the various communities were invited to the event. Speakers were the Rt. Hon Eric Pickles MP, Kris Hopkins MP, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Popat, Lord Singh, Dr Rami Ranger, Baroness Nicholson and myself. At the dinner we promoted the Conservative Party.
Dinner at Bundu Khan
We arranged a dinner at Bundu Khan Restaurant which was in fact oversubscribed and the object was to promote the Party. Members of the different communities attended and the speakers were myself, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Lord Popat, Bob Neill MP and Syed Kamall MEP.
Improving relations between the Muslim Community, The Armed Forces and The Police
It was felt by the CMF committee members that we should take positive steps to improve relations between the Armed Forces and the Muslim Community which have deteriorated following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. With this view in mind we held two meetings with senior officers from The Army and The Navy and it was agreed that ideas which were discussed should be implemented. The ideas included items to appear on CMF website, arranging visits by senior officers of the Armed Forces to mosques, arranging meetings with the officers and the Islamic Media. It is an ongoing process and liaison is maintained between CMF and the Armed Forces.
In regard to the relationship with the Police it was agreed that monthly meetings would be held between me and a senior member of the Police to discuss issues relating to the Muslim community.
I together with my committee members encourage Muslims to join the Armed Forces and the Police.
The matter of Halal meat has received a great deal of publicity and I was approached by the members of the Forum as well as other Muslim leaders to deal with this issue. I have spoken and written on the subject and did get assurance from the Rt. Hon David Cameron, the Prime Minister as well as from Lord de Mauley, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for DEFRA that the current practice of religious slaughter would be maintained.
It was felt that the Forum should hold a cultural evening and Dr Alam Ara Khan who is a member of the executive committee organised a poetry recital to celebrate the works of famous Urdu poets. In addition she had organised for 8 poets in the UK who presented their original works. This event was greatly appreciated and it has been decided to make this an annual event.
Private viewing of the British Library’s Mogul India exhibition
To enable members of the Forum to have a better understanding of the Mughal Emperors and the British connection with India, I arranged a private viewing of a major exhibition which was held at The British Library. In my brief talk I made the point that in Parliament there is a large painting of Sir Thomas Rowe visiting for the first time the court of Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
Outreach programme of CMF
In view of the principles of the Big Society it was decided by CMF Executive that we should undertake outreach activities and speakers are provided to address meetings held at schools and other venues.
Charitable work in Bangladesh by CMF Executive members.
Following the collapse of the building in Savar, Bangladesh the CMF Executive decided to get involved in humanitarian work and travel to Dhaka. Attic Rahman, Cllr. Asif Ayub, Faruk Miah and Ash Zaman collected a substantial amount which was effectively used for helping the victims and their families.
Brightest 100 British Bangladeshi
Three members of CMF Executive committee have been included in the brightest 100 British Bangladeshis. These are Faruk Miah, Hasina Momtaz and Attic Rahman. Their contributions to CMF and the Conservative Party are indeed valuable.
Finally I would like to thank Shaheen Mahmood, Mohammed Amin, the office bearers and members of the executive committee for all their valuable support and input which has enabled us to undertake our multifarious activities. Our motto is “Team Spirit at all times”
The Lord Sheikh
2nd June 2014