an explanation of recent events as I see them

This was originally sent to all the members of the previous MCC board on August 23, 2006. The facts and dates as correct to the best of my knowledge.

Subsequent to the writing of this, Tarek published a rebuttal on the MCC list stating he wanted a formal organisation and the rest of us, who created the CMU as a formal organisation, sabotaged his efforts! He also said, in the same document, that after 5 years of autocratic rule, they are considering having elections.

In addition, Tarek Fatah briefly joined both the MCC and the CMU discussion lists using the alias Dilawar Khan. He pretended to be disinterested third party evaluating both groups but in actuality was using his alias to try to discredit the CMU on the MCC list. He blew his own cover after a couple of days when he inadvertantly used his Dilawar Khan e-mail account to post a message to the MCC list which not only was clearly from him but was even signed “Tarek”.


The last few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. First we had Tarek’s resignation then we had major arguments on the Board list. After that things got really interesting.

Here is the history as I have been able to piece it together. When the MCC was founded, there were, and remained, two camps. The successful camp, led by Tarek, argued for an informal organisation. This meant no written procedures and no legal documents. Tarek confirmed that he was still in this camp a few months ago when I, and others, suggested we should start writing things down.

Because of this, about two years ago, another organisation discovered that the MCC did not formally exist and they decided to register the MCC name. This registration is unlikely to stand up if challenged, but it should not have been allowed in the first place. For this, Tarek bears responsibility since he was one who fought the Board over the issue of registration when the MCC was set up.

Over the years, the MCC has established a web presence through its web site, general e-mail list and its Board and Executive lists. These were all registered by Tarek in his name. While this is reasonable given that the MCC does not officially exist, these items belong to the MCC since Tarek acquired them as part of his duties as MCC Communications Director.

However, what is the MCC? While it has no official existence, an organisation like this should be run by the Board of Directors. The Board should be the custodian of MCC property. The Board normally is represented in day to day activities by the Executive. As such the Executive is responsible for the day to day maintenance of the organisation’s assets.

Remember that. It becomes important.

Over a month ago, Tarek submitted his resignation to the Executive citing workload reasons. The executive accepted his resignation. Next he submitted a “I’m not resigning until I pick a successor” resignation to the Board list. Not having any rules as to how people get on the Board or how their roles are selected, or even how resignations are to be tendered, he got away with it.

Then came the “death threats” affair. Suddenly Tarek’s resignation was not about his workload or trying to present a new face for the MCC. It became about Muslims threatening him. While this played well in the media, it is interesting that these threats were not mentioned in his two earlier resignations, which were about workload. The threats themselves had been made last year.

Some two weeks ago, Tarek shut down the Executive e-mail list. He did this without approval from either the Board or the Executive. A few days later, as we were discussing the arrangements for the Board meeting, Tarek shut down the Board list. Again, this was done without notice and without approval from either the Board or the Executive.

I became aware that the Board list had been shut down when I tried to use it last Wednesday to find out about the status of the Board meeting.

I also discovered that the regular MCC list was changed to “moderated”, meaning that Tarek had to approve all messages that were posted to it. He has been telling people that this is because we have been infiltrated by CIC members. Sorry Tarek, but the CIC members are lurkers who don’t want to give away their leanings by posting anything. Besides, your timing is very suspicious.

That same day Tarek posted a notice on the e-mail list asking about the website. I thought it was strange that he would ask a question like that on the main list instead of through a normal e-mail. When I investigated, I discovered that the files had mostly been removed, except for the main page which had been trimmed down to a “not available” message. Moreover, the password had been changed so I couldn’t restore the files.

Tarek and I were the only two people who had the password.

When I checked with the hosting company, I was told “I did have instruction yesterday from Tarek not to give the password out to anyone but him”. The web site was put back up on Friday morning in a modified state. Among the changes were the main page contained errors that prevented it from displaying properly and the page containing the Board list was replaced with the “mission statement”. These are not errors that would have occurred if the site had simply been restored from a backup by the host company. The omission of the Board list is particularly noteworthy!

If you look at the site today, you will see exactly the same formatting errors on the pages that were made when the site was brought back up last Friday. There is no doubt as to who was responsible for the site being taken down.

Saturday afternoon Tarek gave me the new password for the site and I was able to fix it.

Because it was apparent that Tarek was the person who took down the web site (his message asking about the site was just a “cute” attempt on his part to make him look innocent), the Executive authorised me to become the contact person with the hosting company for the MCC website. Because the MCC has no official existence however, we had no paperwork to show the hosting company that anyone but Tarek was authorised.

Not having a working Board list, I created a new one on Wednesday, but it took Google a couple days to approve it (since I directly added the existing Board members, rather than sending out invitations).

On Thursday, I talked to Farzana to see if she was still going to be hosting the Board meeting. Because the Board list had been removed, she couldn’t confirm the meeting and had made other plans. Fortunately Arif was able to offer his offices to hold the meeting.

Unfortunately, the executive were so fed up with Tarek’s antics they had no interest attending the Board meeting or standing for re-election. I was able to (just barely) convince them that they had a duty to continue in their roles until the Board replaced them.

However, it was obvious that the Board had serious divisions and that the MCC was at risk of splitting up. In an effort to heal the divisions, I put together a draft constitution which would clarify how the organisation runs. I was hoping that we could resolve the problems in a meeting of the full Board with the election of a new executive under these new rules. This draft, an agenda and directions to the meeting were e-mailed to the full board on Friday. I also e-mailed another reminder along with a plea for solidarity on Saturday.

My efforts were in vain. I later discovered that Tarek had been contacting Board members convincing them to not show up. Moreover, it was clear that out of the Board members who did show up, I was the only one who thought the MCC could be salvaged.

More to the point, however, is that this meeting was a chance for the Board to openly reform itself. Those who stayed away showed that they prefer back-room deals to open discussion. In its heart the MCC is not a democratic institution. It is now clear that the MCC Board is not democratic either.

Those of us who attended the meeting have every right to claim to be the real legal representatives of the MCC. The meeting had what would normally constitute a quorum (not having a consitution, there is no definition of a quorum). It was duly advertised well in advance to the Board members. And it was authorised by the then current Executive.

However, those in attendance decided that there was no point in taking on Tarek (who has refused to turn over the accounts) and Elmasry (who has registered the MCC name) in order to keep a name that has been deeply tainted within the community we hoped to influence. Therefore Tarek, you are welcome to keep the MCC as your little fiefdom.

For the rest of you, I suggest that the MCC is a fatally flawed organisation that no longer has any legitimate claim to be anything other than the mouthpiece of one person. If you needed any proof, just look at Tarek’s latest antics.

Rather than attend the duly called Board meeting on August 20, he instead rounded up some of his friends to hold a secret meeting to “revamp the office bearers”. This is insulting to every board member who had their right to have a say in the MCC taken away. And he did this with a straight face while complaining that a Board meeting had not been called!

I’m sorry Tarek, but if I had any doubts about the MCC, this removed them. You conducted a purge of Board members who disagreed with you. No legitimate, and certainly no democratic, organisation holds secret meetings of selected board members. That the others let you shows how deeply the rot has set in.

I invite you all to consider the Canadian Muslim Union instead. Unlike the MCC, this organisation has an official existence and is working on a constitution and by-laws to govern how it is run. Its executive will be set up to ensure that one person cannot pull the kind of coup d’etat that Tarek has done with the MCC. You can think of it as the MCC done right – building on what we learned from the mistakes of the MCC.

Visit us at muslimunion.ca to learn more. Things are still a work in progress and you can expect to see major changes over the next week. And the web site doesn’t (yet) have all the content that the MCC accumulated over the years, but you can be sure that it won’t be hijacked by its communications director.