STATEMENT ON OUR WITHDRAWAL FROM COEJIn: Latest News
Further to the message of 20th October, we wish to inform you of the reasons and history behind the Executive Committee’s decision.
The matter of our fair and equitable representation in Council of European Jamaats has been an issue since the new Constitution was formulated in 2007. Under the new Constitution, the London Jamaat’s representation was reduced to one seat in the Council of thirty.
As a consequence of this, our influence on policies and in decision making within CoEJ has been completely curtailed. This unfortunate matter has been recognised and debated by successive London Jamaat Executive Committees. In 2010, the then President of London Jamaat, Sheikh Mustafa Jaffer presented a fair resolution requesting four additional Council seats, but this was totally rejected. The motion was defeated in spite of Mustafabhai and members of his committee visiting and talking to some individual Jamaats explaining the rationale.
It is crucial to appreciate that requesting additional representation is not for reasons of power or veto, but is a reasonable, fair and an equitable request. If we were to demand proportional representation, then we would expect to have at least fifty percent of the Council seats, if not more, due to our large population which makes up close to fifty percent of our Community in Europe. Four additional seats can hardly be construed as unreasonable. If one looks at Africa Federation, the oldest established Federation within our Community, it will be noted that Dar es Salaam Jamaat has a much bigger share of the seats and votes than any other Jamaat. One cannot argue that the system in Africa is different to that in the West, since NASIMCO too has a similar structure where Toronto Jamaat likewise has a bigger representation.
When the current EC came into office a few months ago, the President Shabirbhai Mamdani met with Alhaj Ahmedbhai Dungersi and Dr Husein Jiwa the CoEJ President, to discuss London Jamaat’s representation in CoEJ. It was suggested by Dr Jiwa and Ahmedbhai that as the previous request by Sheikh Mustafa Jaffer for four additional seats had been defeated in the Council, on this occasion London Jamaat applies for two additional seats, which if successful would result in our representation becoming three seats out of thirty two, as opposed to the current one seat out of thirty. Again, it should be noted that such a request would be extremely modest and reasonable.
On this basis, the London Jamaat submitted three Constitutional amendments. Dr Jiwa and Shabirbhai embarked on consultation with other Jamaats seeking support for the London Jamaat resolutions. They visited Hyderi and Peterborough Jamaats, had a conference call with Birmingham Jamaat, Dr Jiwa telephoned Leicester and Milton Keynes Jamaats, and Shabirbhai spoke on telephone with Milton Keynes Jamaat. All the Jamaats showed strong support for the Resolutions, except that the Birmingham Jamaat did not agree on one of the three Resolutions, and asked for time to consider.
At the Conference on 6th October 2012, it was unfortunate that except for Hyderi and Peterborough Jamaats, all the other Jamaats reneged on the agreement reached previously. All the three Resolutions were defeated. This was rather disappointing, especially as the Jamaats had been consulted not only by Shabirbhai, but by Dr Jiwa as well, the President of CoEJ.
We were disconsolate that once again our application to have fairer representation had failed, a sentiment that was also echoed by Alhaj Ahmedbhai Dungersi. The Hyderi delegation felt the same way. It was agreed both our ECs would discuss the situation and take appropriate joint action. Soon after the meeting, the leadership of CoEJ issued a statement stating that the outcome of the conference was, in the long term, not in the best interest of CoEJ, yet nothing was done to prevent this unjust outcome during the conference.
On 8th October, Shabirbhai received a telephone call from Dr Liaket Dewji, President of Hyderi informing him that Hyderi EC had resolved unanimously to withdraw from CoEJ until such time as there is a Constitutional Conference of CoEJ and a new Constitution based on fair representation is adopted. Our office bearers met to discuss the situation and agreed we should follow the same course, but only if approved by the EC. Years of talking and proposing constitutional amendments had not yielded any fair or equitable results. A special EC meeting, which requires a 10 day notice, was then convened for 19th October. At that meeting, after careful consideration and robust deliberation, the EC decided unanimously to withdraw from CoEJ. Unfortunately after the meeting concluded, we had a text from Dr Dewji saying due to pressure from CoEJ and World Federation officials, they had rescinded their decision to withdraw, which was surprising, considering that just an hour before our EC meeting commenced, Dr Dewji had confirmed that Hyderi Jamaat was awaiting Hujjat Jamaat’s decision and both Jamaats would withdraw membership simultaneously. Our decision, in any case, was independent to that of Hyderi.
We believe that a meeting of all European Jamaats is scheduled for some time in December, although we are not certain under what Constitutional Clause, what the agenda is likely to be or for that matter how binding would the decision of such a meeting be.
We strongly believe in the unity and structures of our communal institutions and are fully committed to a future both within CoEJ and WF. We sincerely hope that common sense, fairness and equality prevail at the CoEJ deliberations in December and decisions made which would be conducive for us to once again join CoEJ, and play our rightful role.
We trust that this gives you a much better picture of the unfortunate events. We will keep you informed of any further developments in this matter
With salaams and duas
For and on behalf of the Executive Committee
25 October 2012