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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Profile: Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari
Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari
Mr Bari urged Muslim worshippers to vote at the last election
The newly-elected head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, is already a high-profile member of the UK's Muslim community.

Dr Bari, chair of the East London mosque, had been the council's deputy secretary general for four years.

A behavioural specialist with a PhD from King's College, London, he was awarded an MBE in 2003.

Bangladesh-born Dr Bari said his main task as MCB general secretary would be to reach out more to young Muslims.

The 52-year-old, who is married with four children aged 11 to 22, told the BBC News website young Muslims faced particular problems.

"The young are the dynamic section of society and there are many issues facing young Muslims - including alienation, deprivation, frustration and, in a small section, there is extremism.

"All these issues are important not only for the Muslim community but for the wider society as well".

Dr Bari already has close links with Muslim young people's groups. Earlier this year he spoke at an event organised in the wake of the 7 July London bombings aimed at deterring young Muslims from becoming extremists.

'Diverse community'

He is a member of the Inner Cities Religious Council, sits on the Greater London Authority's Faith Advisory Group and has also been involved in the Islamic Forum Europe and Battersea Mosque.

He is also on the organising committee for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

As chairman of the East London mosque, Dr Bari was considered instrumental in helping controversial MP George Galloway secure his parliamentary seat in the last general election by telling Muslims they had a duty to vote.

The East London Mosque holds thousands of worshippers every Friday and is the public face of the East End's predominantly Bangladeshi Muslim community.

Dr Bari's appointment by the MCB's central working committee of 37 members was widely anticipated.

He is expected to maintain the MCB's current stance on issues such as the government's anti-terror legislation and the organisation's call for a law banning incitement to religious hatred.

Dr Bari is the third general secretary of the MCB which was established in 1996 as an umbrella organisation for British Muslim groups.

It encompasses both Sunni and Shia Muslims and a range of different ethnic groups.

However, the organisation has faced criticism that a large proportion of UK Muslims do not feel the MCB represents their interests.

Dr Bari said that was another area which needed to be addressed: "We haven't been that successful in reaching all the community though we have tried.

"It's a very diverse community, we cannot claim that we represent the whole community but we try to speak for the community".

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