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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Muslim tour 'seeks to connect'
Muhammad Abdul Bari
Dr Bari said the MCB was reaching out to the wider Muslim community
The Muslim Council of Britain is seeking to widen its appeal by embarking on a tour of the UK.

The MCB's recently-elected head, Muhammad Abdul Bari, said he was looking forward to meeting a "diverse range" of Muslims.

The MCB is the largest Muslim body in the UK, but has faced criticism that it does not represent all the community.

Over the last 18 months two major separate groups for Muslims have emerged.

The MCB's Connecting with the Community tour begins in London on Tuesday.

Over the next five weeks Dr Bari, and other senior MBC officials, will visit 16 British towns and cities with large Muslim populations including Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester, Luton, Glasgow and Cardiff.

They will be accompanied by the MCB's regional and local affiliates and other personalities from the towns and cities visited.

'Greater co-operation'

When he was elected last month Dr Bari said in spite of strenuous efforts, the MCB had not been successful at reaching all the entire community and could not claim to speak for all Muslims.

He said the tour was a great chance to reach out to a wider audience.

"This tour represents an ideal opportunity to introduce the work of the MCB to others and listen to suggestions about how we can facilitate greater co-operation among Muslims and non-Muslims to promote the common good," Dr Bari said.

The tour comes a week after another potentially significant community group - the Sufi Muslim Council (SMC) - was formally unveiled at a major launch at Westminster with Communities Minister Ruth Kelly and politicians from all the major parties in attendance.

The formation of the SMC was seen as a direct challenge for the leadership of Muslim communities in the UK.

Its founders say it represents a silent majority frustrated with slow progress at tackling extremism within the Muslim community since the London bombings in July last year.

The SMC has formed a partnership with the British Muslim Forum (BMF), an organisation which has emerged since the London bombings as the representative of 300 mosques in the Midlands and northern England.

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