A group of Muslim community leaders are furious that they have been dumped from the committee organising Birmingham’s annual Eid Mela celebrations.
Commuity members, who have been organising the event for more than a decade, were told by the new committee chairman, Coun Majid Mahmood (Lab, Hodge Hill) that they were no longer needed and would be replaced by a committee of seven city councillors.
The family event, which receives £20,000 in council sponsorship, is being held in Cannon Hill Park on September 2 featuring live music, food, art and entertainment.
Former committee member Safdar Mir says that the community representatives are outraged at being dropped in a four line email from the city council.
He said: “This is a draconian decision to disband the existing committee and decide that it will run by elected councillors.
‘‘It shows no respect to the voluntary hard work of the community representatives to build the Eid Mela as landmark event for the Muslim community.
“Maybe this is the council’s new Labour administration’s idea on how Big Society should work in Birmingham.”
The Mela is designed to promote Muslim culture and heritage and receives around 40,000 visitors each year as well as coverage internationally. The official Eid festival which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, is on August 19.
But the clash with the Olympic Games means the Eid Mela has been put back to September 2, and will be in the park on the same weekend as the Moseley Gardeners’ Festival.
Coun Mahmood has defended the decision saying councillors will ensure it is truly representative of the city and able to secure the funding and sponsorship needed during a time of financial austerity at the City Coucnil.
He said the new committee, which will have four Labour members, two Conservative and one Lib Dem, will ensure it becomes an event for the whole city.
“The Mela is for the whole city, to highlight and showcase the valuable contribution of Muslims to this city.
‘‘We want to welcome all Muslim groups, Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis, Yemenis, Somalis as well as non-Muslims and make it a truly city-wide event.”
He added that the entertainment would showcase city talent as a priority, as opposed to international acts which have tended to appear.