British Muslims Monthly Survey for October 1997 Vol. V, No. 10

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Islamophobia Report

Tebbit’s attack

Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam

Reports

Community

Death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed

Prostitutes near mosque

Southall and Slough updates

Sayed al-Darsh obituaries

Couple’s story

Centre approved

Islamic Relief Games

Cardiff Yemenis

Queen praises Muslims

Luton Muslims encouragement

Ilford Centre funding cut

Permission for community centre

Radio programmes about Muslims

Liverpool Muslims

Justice for executed man

Rushdie defiant

Wessex Shi’a profile

Lottery consequences

Community centre bid dropped

Luton centre consideration

Community centre plans

Community celebration

Religion in the South West

Derby lights

Southend review

 

 

Education

Kirklees letter

Manchester tree planting

RE festival

School profiled

John Hull on RE

Campaign against school closure

Islamia funding

Gloucester Muslim school

Language instruction funding

Portsmouth schooling

Education and Asian girls

Muslim women career destination

Sandwell school proposal

Cardiff school opening

Rochdale centre plans

Batley school article

School assemblies row

Centre to close

 

 

Politics

Hizb ut-Tahrir on campus

Sarwar update

Bosnia leader visit

Al-Muhajiroun ban

MP and News of the World article

Muslim Parliament article

MP’s Qur’an criticism

Barking vote

MEP dinner with Muslims

 

 

Women

Attack and rape update

Group create rap

Sandwell arts

 

 

Youth

Mosque in anti-drug initiative

 

 

Interfaith

Kirklees interfaith

Archbishop in Leicester

Bishop calls for contact

Jewish-Muslim meeting

 

 

Halal

Goats disappear

Non-halal additives

 

 

Health

Muslim smoking habits

Donor crisis

Healer offers cure

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Aldershot burials

Bishop’s Stortford, Hockerill Street

Bolton, Gibraltar Street

Bournemouth and Gillingham, Dorset burials

Bournemouth and Poole burials

Chesham

Chorley, Brooke St

Dundee, Dura St

Leyton, Beaconsfield Rd

London, Whitechapel

Loughborough burials

Loughborough, King St

Luton, Bury Park

Lynn, Norfolk burials

Morden, London Rd

Sandwell, Park Lane East

Smethwick, Halfords Lane

Southall Park, Park View Rd

Southwark, Old Kent Road

Tipton, Binfield St

Watford, North Western Avenue

 

 

 

FEATURES

Islamophobia Report

The Runnymede Trust’s report on Islamophobia was officially launched on 22 October, following extensive research and consultation at a meeting presided over by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for February, March, April, May, July and September 1997). The Commission which drafted the report looked at the media reporting on Muslims and Islam in Britain as well as a range of other issues affecting the Muslim community. Professor Gordon Conway, who chaired the commission, argued that there should be a code of practice covering the way the media handled Islamic issues. He said: "Stories and cartoons can be offensive, reinforcing the Mad Mullah stereotype. They are carried in newspapers in a way that they would not be about Jews" (Daily Telegraph, 22.10.97). Two other members of the commission, Zahida Manzoor who is chair of the Bradford Health Authority and Philip Lewis, the Bishop of Bradford’s interfaith adviser, were interviewed by the Bradford Telegraph & Argus (22.10.97) about the report’s findings and recommendations. The commission had visited Bradford on a fact-finding mission. Dr Lewis said: "The specific role Bradford is making is being recognised. It [the Islamophobia report] will be flagging up the good practice we have done. Bradford has always struggled to get resources...". In Birmingham, the Pakistan Forum’s development officer, Jaweid Akhtar, said: "I agree entirely with this report. Discrimination against Moslems is still rife. Despite the fact that most of the Moslems now living in the West Midlands were born in this country, they still live in poor housing, have poor education and suffer high levels of unemployment. There is also a worryingly-high level of religious intolerance towards them" (Birmingham Evening Mail, 22.10.97).

Asian Age (14.10.97) reported that on Sunday 19 October Muslim leaders from across Europe were due to hold a conference in London called by the Muslim Parliament to discuss the problem of Islamophobia. Jehangir Mohammed, deputy leader of the parliament, said: "Historically, Islamophobia has always existed. Recently, because communism is no longer around, Western powers have to find a new enemy. That enemy is Islam". The Times (23.10.97) concentrates on the Runnymede Trust’s estimate that, by the year 2001, the number of Muslims in Britain, based on the demography of those of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin, will have significantly increased. According to such estimates, two thirds of these Muslims will have been born in Britain. The Brighton Evening Argus (18.10.97) reports that Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, director of the Sussex Muslim Society and member of the Islamophobia Commission, had been asked to speak on Islamophobia at a meeting in the House of Commons on 29 October. The meeting was called by the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. On 30 October Professor Gordon Conway had been invited to give a lecture on the report at the University of Sussex’s Meeting House (Brighton Evening Argus, 20.10.97).

To the disappointment of Muslim organisations, the Home Secretary said that he did not intend to bring in legislation outlawing religious discrimination during the life of this parliament. The enactment of such legislation was one of the key recommendations of the report. Jack Straw said: "I know that some people feel that race legislation is not the answer to the particular problems of the Muslim community. But religious legislation may not be the answer either. In the last fortnight we have heard the prophets of doom describing multiculturalism in Britain as a divisive force. But, encouragingly, we have also seen how isolated and out of touch those voices seem to be as we approach the end of the century" (Daily Telegraph, 23.10.97). The reaction of Iqbal Sacranie, Joint Convenor of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs was that: "Other practices such as offering guidelines on non-discriminatory policies have already been looked into. The ultimate solution is a law which would be a signal from the government. Such a law would be an amendment to the existing Race Relations Act or a new religious law that would cover all faith communities. Muslims and Hindus are the two main religious communities that are not covered by existing legislation. Sikhs and Jews are defined as racial groups" (Daily Jang, 23.10.97).

Bradford MP, Marsha Singh, hopes that the report will turn the tide of anti-Islamic prejudice in the country. He said: "Since the break-up of the Soviet Union, an ‘enemy’ had to be found, and Muslims have become the new target. But Bradford people are very tolerant. A lot of people in the city realise the contribution the Muslim community is making economically, socially and politically. But we have to address the problem of religious discrimination and I will be raising the matter in Parliament" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 23.10.97). Bradford Council leader, Councillor John Ryan, said: "I think it would be wrong to say Islamophobia does not exist in some quarters. But broadly speaking, in Bradford, we recognise different cultures, acknowledge them and take them as part of the Bradford picture. We have come a long way since the Manningham riots. We can’t get complacent, but Bradford is a good example of a multi-cultural, multi-faith city" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 23.10.97). Mr Manzoor Moghal, chair of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicestershire, said: "There is a substantial Muslim community in Leicester and we have experienced problems on a number of occasions. I think the proposal for a new law would be one that is welcomed by the Muslim population and would very much help the situation ... I have always maintained that Leicester has the best race relations in the UK and all the communities have blended far, far better than elsewhere in the country, but that is not to say there is no discrimination towards Muslims" (Leicester Mercury, 23.10.97).

The report called for state funding for Muslim schools. It found that there are 58 full-time independent Muslim schools in the UK catering for two per cent of Muslim children. With 7,000 state schools with a religious affiliation, none are Muslim despite many applications for state funding (TES, 24.10.97).

In an article in the Independent (25.10.97), Trevor Phillips, chair of the Runnymede Trust, discusses the report’s findings. He states: "The case against Islam rests heavily on the supposed experience of women. I instinctively find it hard to understand the apparently inferior position of women in many Islamist societies; however, the reality of life for many Muslims does not support the proposition that all, or even most, Muslim women feel oppressed because of their faith. Can one ignore the evidence of many independent, clearly self-possessed Muslim women who say that within their tradition, their status and their rights as women are protected? They also say they are appalled by what they see as the disrespect shown to women by non-Muslim societies" (Independent, 25.10.97).

In an article in the Church Times, Philip Lewis states: "Central to the report’s argument is a contrast drawn between "open" and "closed" views of Islam and Muslims. A closed view presents Islam as monolithic and static, an aggressive and ideological enemy to be combatted. Muslim minorities should thus be exposed to scrutiny and social control; and there is no need to take seriously any criticisms they may make of Western society. The open view acknowledges that Islam, like Christianity, is diverse, dynamic, and in dialogue with wider society. This view is compatible with criticism of aspects of Islam and Muslim culture, not least because such criticisms are already part of internal Muslim debate. The commission clearly favoured an open reading of Islam, and an inclusive model of British society. Our visits to Muslim groups across the country, as well as the submissions we received and research we commissioned, indicated that the closed view of Islam and Muslims was a dangerous parody, which, unless challenged, would sap the confidence of British Muslims and undermine their attempts to engage creatively and critically with British life in all its diversity" (Church Times, 24.10.97).

Writing in the Independent (23.10.97) Polly Toynbee has an article entitled ‘In defence of Islamophobia’. In her article, written from a secularist perspective, she agues against legislation to outlaw religious discrimination. One of her arguments is that "Racism is the problem, not religion". She writes: "We are still a racist society and to be a poor, black, non-English speaking Bangladeshi woman in, say, London’s East End, is to be not so much a second- as a third-class citizen. No doubt some of the racism such women suffer does spring from the fact that they are Muslim. But there is no hard evidence that poor, black, non-English speakers of other faiths are treated any better than Muslims". She believes that sufficient protection is provided against some manifestations of religious discrimination under existing legislation: "The Runnymede report ...[points out] that people are often attacked because of their religious dress. But discrimination on grounds of appearance is already covered by our race relations laws". Her main objection appears to be that she is opposed to all religion on the grounds that it is irrational. She writes: "I judge Islam by the religion’s deeds in the societies where it dominates. Does that make me a racist? For I am also a Christophobe. If Christianity were not such a spent force in this country, if it were as powerful and dominant as it once was, it would still be every bit as damaging as Islam is in those theocratic states in its thrall. Christianity remains a lethal weapon in Northern Ireland. If I lived in Israel, I’d feel the same way about Judaism. Everywhere in the world where religion dominates over the state, that is a bad place to live. Religiophobia is highly rational".

The Runnymede Trust’s report is entitled Islamophobia: a challenge for us all and can be obtained from: 133 Aldersgate St, London, EC1A 4JA, Tel. 0171 600 9666, price £9.50 plus p&p. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 1/2]

 

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Tebbit’s attack

Comments by Lord Tebbit questioning the Britishness of British Muslims have been attacked by many sections of society, including prominent fellow members of the Conservative party. East (15.10.97) reported that, during the BBC Radio Four’s Today programme in early October, Norman Tebbit had warned of the possibility of Britain becoming "another Yugoslavia" because of multiculturalism. He had then continued: "We must see if we can find a way in which Muslims can be truly British. I think there are ways in which that can be done in which their law and their tradition can be respected. But it has to be respected that, if one is living in a Christian country, it is Christian Law which overrides it. I am asking people to accept that in a society you have one language, you have one standard of ethics, you have one history. I am not arguing that culture can be frozen. I am saying that it must be in common". The Daily Telegraph (09.10.97) concentrated on the efforts of William Hague, leader of the Conservative Party, to limit the damage caused to the Party’s image by Lord Tebbit. Condemning Norman Tebbit’s remarks, the Conservative leader said: "I want a Conservative party that embraces people, that doesn’t attack people. I stand for patriotism without bigotry...I have my own cricket test now: if you don’t want to be part of the team, then get off the field". East interviewed several British Asians, including some Muslims, for their reactions. One was Wahid Anwar, aged 27 and a computer analyst, married with one child. He said: "There is nothing in Islam which stops me from following British law. In Britain I can pray, practise my faith and I know British history as I was taught it at school. What does he mean by British culture? Going out at night and getting pissed? Being a football hooligan?". The Ealing MP Piara Khabra called for Tebbit’s dismissal. She said: "His remarks are highly dangerous, irresponsible and narrow minded. As MP for the past five years, I have been loyal to Britain and to the people of this country. An ethnic minority MP I may be, but I represent people of all nationalities and all colours and am proud to do so". Inderjit Singh, editor of the Sikh Messenger, said: "The combination of my British work life and my traditional Sikh life never struck me as an awkward mix. I think of myself as British. I would be devastated if I ever had to leave". Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, reminded East’s readers of Norman Tebbit’s infamous ‘cricket team test’: "If you followed his previous comment on race when he asked Asian children which cricket team they supported, Tebbit had forgotten that men such as Tony Benn openly question the legitimacy of the monarchy, but does that mean they are not British?" An editorial in the Birmingham Post (09.10.97) points out that Britain is composed of several nations, such as the Scots and the Welsh, and many cultures who demonstrate that it is possible to have dual or multiple loyalties. Like many newspapers, the Birmingham Post contrasts the Queen’s attitudes as evidenced in her speech in Islamabad (see Report in this issue of BMMS) and Norman Tebbit’s: "As the Queen says, British Moslems are a distinct group within this country. Many of them have strong loyalties to Islam and to Pakistan but there is no reason to suppose they should therefore repudiate this country, its peoples or their traditions. They may support Pakistan during a test match but we should not assume that dong so is inimical to their role as members of British society...the Queen, unlike Lord Tebbit, seems perfectly capable of moving with the times which is doubtless why she is happy to embrace a new multi-cultural Britain without fear". Yasmin Alibhai-Brown of the Institute for Public Policy Research, interviewed in the Independent (09.10.97) felt that Lord Tebbit’s words were inflammatory: "What Tebbit did was disgraceful. It was worse than the rivers of blood speech [of Enoch Powell]. He quite deliberately mentioned Yugoslavia knowing that people here had seen the horrors that took place on their television screens so recently. He is basically talking about civil war, because he implies the people in Yugoslavia could not live alongside a Muslim population. By his words he is creating an atmosphere of intolerance". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 2/3]

 

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Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam

The Home Secretary Jack Straw is considering lifting the exclusion order on the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan (The Times, 05.11.97), (see BMMS for July 1997). Mr Farrakhan, who has been accused of being anti-white and anti-semitic, has been invited to argue a case for being given entry. He was banned from Britain in 1986. Mr Straw has reviewed the ban following a request by Tottenham MP Bernie Grant, to justify it. Mr Paul Twino, who leads the campaign to have the ban lifted, stated: "The NOI [Nation of Islam] has grown considerably since the exclusion order was first imposed and Minister Farrakhan is now regarded by many throughout the world as a statesman. No one, who is so respected, should be treated in this way". However, Michael Whine of the Board of Deputies of British Jews states: "We have seen no diminution in Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish invection. We would therefore support the continuation of the exclusion order" (Evening Standard, 05.11.97).

The Independent (19.10.97) has a feature article on the schools that the Nation of Islam (NOI) has founded in Britain, which currently number three in London, with supplementary classes in Birmingham and Manchester. The article is misleadingly headed ‘Farrakhan opens UK blacks-only schools’ - in fact, Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the NOI who is based in the United States has been consistently refused a visa to enter Britain and so has not personally opened the schools. However, an education specialist from the NOI in the US, Minister Shaheed Mohammed has been touring inner-city areas in Britain, meeting NOI parents and educators, and participating in debates on the education of black children outside the state school sector. Leo Muhammad, a comedian and leader of the NOI’s west London branch claimed that increasing numbers of black parents are sending their children to NOI schools because the state schools are failing their children. He said: "Many black parents are unhappy with the treatment their children get at mainstream schools. Time and again, surveys and anecdotal evidence show that these schools, which tend to be run wholly by white teachers, fail black youngsters. White teachers usually accept, unquestioningly, the various negative stereotypes about black people that abound in Western society. To teach someone, you have to feel an affinity with them. And if, for example, because of conditioning, white teachers see black boys as being physically threatening, then there can’t be any feeling of empathy or understanding". The schools teach the national curriculum subjects and those children who are Muslims are expected to pray five times a day. There is also an emphasis on black history with its role models and achievements. Concerning the importance of these aspects, Leo Muhammad said: "for someone to feel good about their identity they have to know the truth about their past. Until now most state schools have taught black children that their ancestors have achieved nothing of significance. This is patently untrue and we want our children to know this. Once children know about the great African empires of the past and about black leaders and inventors in the Western world they become a lot more confident".

Leo Chester Muhammad was ordered to leave the Lilian Bayliss School in Lambeth, where he had been invited as part of Black History month, because he turned up accompanied by an uninvited group of members of the Nation of Islam (Time Out Magazine, 22.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 3/4]

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Opinion

(The editors have invited Bishop David Young, Bishop of Ripon, to contribute this piece. The bishop chairs the Church of England Board of Education. We expect occasionally to include similar opinion items, from a variety of other contributors, in the future)

Muslim schools and state funding

The Church of England has a long history of commitment to state schooling and working in partnership with the state. Like all partnerships there have been periods of positive collaboration and periods of tension and frustration, but the involvement of Church and State in education has developed to a position of mutual respect.

There are nearly one million pupils in Church of England schools, almost as many as worshippers in church on an average Sunday. These pupils, their teachers, parents and governors represent an enormous contribution to the life and vigour of the Church of England and to the religious life of the nation. There are many groups, both religious and secular, who would value the opportunity to share in this involvement.

Justice for all, in our community, requires that any group who can fulfil the requirements of the national curriculum and provide equal opportunities for all pupils should be entitled to share in the educational process.

Muslims in particular have a special case for consideration because of their extensive engagement in supplementary education for Muslim children. The case for State funded schools is, however, relevant to all faith communities.

Participation in the education system through the establishment of such schools would help to create a deeper sense of identity and acceptance. In the current jargon, the faith communities would become ‘stake-holders’ in education. This involvement would, however, bring responsibilities and duties as well as control and commitment. Those who argue that the creation of such schools would encourage a mentality of separate development should recognise that the alienation of, for example, devout Muslims from the wider society is far more likely under the present system of independent Muslim schools. State funding brings with it the necessity of working in partnership. The English and Welsh education system should acknowledge the deep religious needs within various communities and respond appropriately. Moreover the confidence of a whole community to participate in the life of society can be greatly increased by the provision of schools which respects their culture. Religious aided schools enable members of religious minorities to grow in security and confidence.

Even if such schools were to be established in the near future there will still be many, many Muslim pupils and others from a variety of faith communities in schools across the whole education system. It would be important to continue to ensure the religious and spiritual needs of these children are not overlooked. We need to share our faith with integrity, firmly holding to our beliefs and convictions, while recognising the importance of respect, shared values and the humanity of all those working in education. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 4]

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Reports

Community

Death of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed

Tributes to Diana, Princess of Wales continue to appear in the press (see BMMS for August and September 1997). One such is in Awaaz (01.10.97). This begins: "Since our last issue Diana, the Princess of Wales and her partner Dodi Fayed passed away in a horrific accident. The death of the princess sent shock waves around the world. She was a fantastically famous and well-liked personality all over the globe. Her work took her to many countries and to places that other members of the royal family would never dream of visiting. Can you imagine the Queen wandering around a Bosnian minefield?" The article continues, surmising that Diana was about to announce that she was embracing Islam and commented: "If the much-loved Diana had lived to become a Muslim it would have been interesting to see how the paranoid western media would have reacted". A second part of the article discusses theories appearing on the internet about Diana and Dodi Fayed’s deaths. There is considerable correspondence in the letters pages of the Rochdale Observer (04.10.97). These letters are very hostile to the views of Mohammed Salim Allah-Ho, who stood as an independent Islamic candidate in the last general election. Mohammed Salim apparently criticised the princess and her relationship with Dodi Fayed.

On Wednesday 15 October Dodi Fayed’s body was taken from the Muslim graveyard at Brookwood Cemetery near Woking and reburied 25 miles away in the grounds of his father’s mansion near Oxsted in Surrey. Michael Cole, spokesperson for Mohammed Al Fayed, said: "The coffin was moved during the evening...completely in privacy, and the coffin reinterred in a tranquil and beautiful part of the estate". An application for planning permission for a mausoleum has been lodged by Mohammed Al Fayed with Tandridge District Council (Independent, 17.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 4/5]

 

 

Prostitutes near mosque

Members of the Bury Park Mosque, Luton, have now sent a petition against the activities of prostitutes soliciting near the mosque to the local council (see BMMS for September 1997). A letter accompanying the petition complains about the "noise, general anti-social behaviour and loud and obscene language". Luton police have agreed to act on the problem and to make more arrests where necessary. A police spokesperson said: "We have had complaints about prostitutes openly touting for business" (Luton Herald & Post, 02.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 5]

 

 

Southall and Slough updates

The Brentford, Chiswick & Isleworth Times (03.10.97) reports that the Hounslow Youth Leaders’ Council has received a grant of £6,000 from Hounslow Council to research the violence between young Sikhs and Muslims in the local area and to make recommendations (see BMMS for February, April, May, June, July, August and September 1997). A spokesperson for the town council said: "There will be a big input from Asian youths to get to the bottom of the issue. In the past, reports have tended to focus just on older people in the community". Q-News (17.10.97) carries a short report on the march which took place in Southall of Sikhs and Muslims who wanted to demonstrate that they were united against racism and the other problems faced by their communities. Dilawer Choudhry of the pressure group Southall First, which together with the Southall Monitoring Group is trying to eradicate communal violence in the area, said that Sikhs and Muslims constitute "a formidable part of British society, one which contributes extensively in both a financial and a social sense". The magazine Arena (01.11.97) has a feature article on the violence between Muslim and Sikh youth gangs in Southall which purports to have carried out its investigation amongst a young Sikh gangster and his friends. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 5]

 

 

Sayed al-Darsh obituaries

Late tributes to Sayed Mutawalli al-Darsh, who died in Cairo on 25 September 1997 (see BMMS for September 1997) have appeared in the Independent (13.10.97) and Q-News (13.10.97). The obituary in the independent is written by Humera Khan of the women’s An-Nisa group in London. Humera Khan knew Dr al-Darsh personally and he had supported many of the organisations in which she has been involved. She writes: "...the most unique feature of ad-Darsh was the way he treated women and encouraged their spiritual and intellectual development. Women found him always eager to exchange ideas and comprehend their situation before issuing the appropriate fatwas ("edicts"). His work with the An Nisa women’s Society, for instance, exemplified the wisdom, commitment and trail-blazing nature of his work". Q-News carries two obituaries, one written by Fuad Nahdi, the editor, and one by Humera Khan. Both articles are illustrated by photographs of Dr al-Darsh at key points in his life, plus two pages of tributes by various British Muslim leaders and activists, who all remembered Dr al-Darsh from their mutual involvement in activities developing the understanding of Islam amongst Muslims in Europe. Ibrahim Hewitt, of the Association of Muslim Schools, for instance, mentioned the question and answer column in Q-News: "I was fortunate to transcribe Dr ad-Darsh’s popular column in Q-News a few years ago for six months every other Tuesday evening which was looked forward to with relish (by Dr ad-Darsh as much as myself). Unlike some Ulema, he was open to challenge. Our conversations often lasted hours rather than minutes and he was always game for a debate, even though both of us knew who possessed superior knowledge. Through reasoning and gentle persuasion he let me destroy my own argument a number of times. If readers enjoyed reading his answers, they would do so even more if they knew the degree of thought given to each and every question". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 5]

 

 

Couple’s story

Jack and Zena, the couple who have been in hiding for over five years because her family have threatened to kill her for marrying a non-Muslim and whose story has now been published by John McCarthy have appealed to Tony Blair for help (see BMMS for September 1997). Both Jack and Zena believe that the death threats from her family cannot be based on Islam. Jack said that, "it’s not a religious matter. The majority of Muslims are great people. Zena’s faith has been amazing. I find it amazing the strength she has got from it". Zena concurred: "I believe that my faith has pulled me through. The Koran states that a man and woman should marry who they want to" (Catholic Herald, 17.10.97). The couple have also been interviewed by the Yorkshire Post (21.10.97) to whom they explained their fear of the bounty hunters, who are paid by the families of Asian girls and women who elope to forcibly return them or, it is suspected in some cases, to murder them. Inspector Martin Baines of the Bradford Police said: "Girl runaways from Asian families are an increasing problem. It’s very common for girls to leave home to escape an arranged marriage or because they have boyfriends their families may not approve of. We treat it as a very sensitive issue. We’re not in the business of dividing families. We tell the family we know where the daughter is. But if a girl is 18 and has decided to leave home, we wouldn’t tell the family where she was if she didn’t want us to. The girl’s safety is paramount. There have been several cases of girls who have left home being killed by members of their own families. There are bounty hunters who trace girls and forcibly return them to their families against their wills. We consider these cases as cases of abduction". Zena said of their book: "We’re just hoping it will make for better understanding. All we’re asking for is a home, a place to work and to live our lives in peace".

The Halifax Evening Courier (23.10.97) discusses the issue of arranged marriages and Asian girls leaving home to avoid these marriages in response to the book. The article reports that some girls do leave home because they are involved in a mixed relationship. The report features an example of a successful relationship based on an arranged marriage and an example of a marriage which failed where the girl eventually married a white man who converted to Islam. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 5/6]

 

 

Centre approved

The Al-Birr Foundation has been granted planning permission to use the ground floor of 117 Walton Road, Woking as a community centre for the Muslim community. Amongst the activities would be an after-school club for the children of working parents and a day centre for the elderly and the unemployed. Two full-time staff are to be employed and they will probably live in the self-contained flat on the first floor of the building. The principal planning officer, Mark Cupitt, recommended that planning permission be granted on a temporary basis initially, but council members felt that this was unnecessary, and so permanent permission was granted (Woking Review, 04.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6]

 

Islamic Relief Games

The annual Islamic Relief Games were held at the National Exhibition Centre on 5 October, attracting crowds of over 6,000. About 1,000 people took part in games of football, netball and volleyball whilst others enjoyed the funfair and various other entertainments. The organisers estimate that the total proceeds from the event will be about £35,000 which will be donated to charity (Birmingham Evening Mail, 06.10.97, Q-News, 17.10.97). The Heartland Evening News (14.10.97) records that a local team, the Nuneaton Muslim Welfare and Cultural Association’s football team, won first place in the football tournament at the games. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6]

 

 

Cardiff Yemenis

An exhibition of photographs of Yemenis in Cardiff, which vies with Sheffield for having the oldest settlement of Yemenis in Britain, is being staged from 10 to 17 October at the Butetown History and Arts Centre. It was to be opened by Sheikh Said Hassan Ismail, spiritual leader of the Cardiff Yemeni community , who said: "There are a lot of similarities between Yemen and Wales but not many Welsh people know much about our country. This will be an ideal opportunity for people to find out more about the Yemen and see some beautiful photographs of it" (South Wales Echo, 07.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6]

 

 

Queen praises Muslims

During her recent visit to Pakistan, the Queen spoke about Islam in Britain and welcomed the emerging identity of the British Muslims (Halifax Evening Courier, Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 08.10.97). She said: "A distinctive new identity - that of the British Muslim - has emerged. The Pakistani community’s contribution to all walks of life in Britain has won great respect" (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 08.10.97). She also expressed the view that Britain had a role to play regarding the dispute over Kashmir: "it is surely right, on this 50th anniversary of the independence of both countries, to take stock and renew efforts to end historic disagreements. Britain, as a friend to both, can only urge a new spirit of openness and understanding, of dedication to peaceful solutions" (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 08.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6]

 

 

Luton Muslims encouragement

The Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), which has a branch in Luton, is encouraging Muslims to talk to their friends and neighbours about Islam. Zafar Iqbal, spokesperson for the Luton branch of the ISB said: "The aim is to portray Muslims as they live their lives here in the UK, and not as the images projected of events taking place thousands of miles away" (Luton Leader, 09.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6]

 

 

Ilford Centre funding cut

On 9 October Redbridge Council’s social services committee planned to discuss whether to continue funding the Ilford Muslim Community Centre in Eton Road. Some councillors have expressed concerns about the management of the centre (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 09.10.97). Eventually, after two hours of heated debate, the council committee decided to cease funding the activities of the League of British Muslims, which had been contracted to provide day care for elderly Asians three days a week at the centre (Ilford Recorder, 16.10.97). Apparently, council officers had inspected the centre’s list of clients and found that it did not tally with the electoral register or with council tax records. There was also concern that some clients did not meet the age criteria. The chair of the social services committee, Councillor John Brindley (Labour), said: "It is public money and they have a right to expect that the council will spend the money on services, but if this council is not receiving what they are paying for then terminate the agreement". The leader of the project, Bashir Chaudhry denied that the League of British Muslims had not met the council’s requirements, which had been restated to the project managers in June of this year. He said: "The chairman Cllr John Brindley was laying down the law and going overboard to put the case very strongly against us. It is very unusual for the chairman to speak like that. In my opinion it was a political decision because certain individuals don’t like our place and they just wanted to destroy us" (Ilford Recorder, 16.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 6/7]

 

 

Permission for community centre

A community centre in Blackburn has been allowed to keep a conservatory it built without planning permission, against the advice of planners, who felt that such retrospective permission undermined the council’s authority. The Islamic Centre in Pringle Street built a 12 foot by 10 foot conservatory without permission. Although Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors voted against the permission, a majority of councillors on the planning sub-committee were in favour (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 22.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7]

 

 

Radio programmes about Muslims

Several radio programmes about Muslims in Britain have been previewed and reviewed in the press during October. These include Facing West, a two-part feature presented by Jeremy Harding on Radio 4, on 11 and 16 October; and a late review in the Tablet (11.10.97) of the BBC World Service feature by Roger Hardy, called ‘Muslims in Britain’ and broadcast in two parts, the second being on 29 September (see BMMS for September 1997). According to the Tablet, which praised Roger Hardy’s thorough research and pointed out that he presented a positive image of young Muslim women, there were technical limitations. The reviewer writes: "The limitations of broadcasting on short wave to an overseas audience restrict the use of sound effects and background noise, so this programme suffered from a lack of continuous colour [sic] which might have enlivened a rather steady sequence of narration followed by interview". The Times (16.10.97) writes of Facing West: "Lord Tebbit, are you listening? And if so, what conclusion will you be reaching? This is an absorbing documentary about British Muslims and the stresses and compromises that life here has brought about, often with very positive results. The programme starts at a festival in Bradford, which has the UK’s largest Asian population outside London, of whom more than 60 per cent are Muslims from a Pakistani background. Jeremy Harding talks to Muslims about the contrasts inherent in the lives of people often trying to reconcile tradition and modern Western life. One of the strongest impressions is of a community which has worked hard to accommodate Britishness and has been doing so for three generations". The Hartlepool Mail (16.10.97) uncovers a local angle to one of the Muslims in Britain programmes: one of their staff reporters, Alam Khan, who is now sports writer at the Hartlepool Mail, was formerly a journalist in Bradford and featured in the radio documentary, discussing how non-Muslims view Islam. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7]

 

 

Liverpool Muslims

Two plaques have been put up at the Register offices in Brougham terrace in Liverpool to mark the site where Muslims used to worship 100 years ago. The Liverpool solicitor, Sheikh Abdullah Quilliam first led the prayers of the group of converts to Islam on the site in 1889. By the turn of the century, there were about 150 Muslims belonging to this group in Liverpool. The total Muslim population in Liverpool is now about 6,000 and across Merseyside, there are more than 15,000 Muslims. For more information about the Muslim history of Liverpool, contact Somalia and Rashid McTeer at the Islamic Resource Centre on 0151-708-8780 (Liverpool Echo, 13.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7]

 

 

Justice for executed man

Q-News (17.10.97) reports that the widow and son of Mahmood Hussein Mattan, a Cardiff Somali who was hanged for murder in 1952 are still trying to clear his name. In 1995 the Home Office allowed Mahmood Mattan’s widow and sons to disinter his body and rebury it in consecrated ground. Now the family’s lawyers, Bernard de Maid and Company, are hoping to persuade Cardiff police to disclose evidence which could establish Mr Mattan’s innocence. In September 1997 the case was referred to the Court of Appeal. A local historian, Neil Sinclair, has devoted a chapter of his book, The Tiger Bay Story, to the case. Mr Sinclair believes that Mr Mattan was innocent and that the racism of the time was a big factor in wrongfully convicting Mahmood Mattan. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7]

 

 

Rushdie defiant

Salman Rushdie, in an interview with the Birmingham Post (30.10.97), has said "to hell" with the fatwa issue against him for writing the book Satanic Verses. He made the comments just before addressing English students at the Warwick Arts Centre. He said: "My life was not for Iran to take away and I am determined to continue my life. The fatwa had two aims, the first was to suppress the novel and the second was to suppress me. Now the novel is increasingly available and so am I. For that reason I have been getting out and appearing at events more in the last three years, all over the world. It was a conscious decision I made, to continue to be a writer because that is the only way I can fight this thing. I have to leave the politics to other people but I always try to support other writers whose freedom of speech people have tried to limit. I believe many Moslems in Britain do not care about the fatwa any more. I am sure many of the protests in the early days of the fatwa were organised with money from outside this country, originally from Saudi Arabia and then later from Iran. Now that money has gone and so have the protests. I have absolutely no regrets about writing The Satanic Verses. How can anyone regret doing something which takes five years of one’s life and one’s best intellectual efforts to write?". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7]

 

 

Wessex Shi’a profile

Portsmouth News (23.10.97) contains a profile of a Shi’a leader, Mullah Bashir Rahim of Southsea. He is the leader of the Wessex Shi’a community. A lawyer in Tanzania, he went to live with his daughter in Fareham in 1988 when he retired. He said: "At that time the Shiite community here had only about 20 families and a delegation asked me: "Why don’t you spend your retirement here?" I decided to do this work although I knew I would have to cut down on my lifestyle". The community, based in Wickham, includes groups from Southampton, Winchester and Farnham and consists of about 50 families. Mr Rahim founded Portsmouth InterFaith which hold four joint Christian-Muslim celebrations a year. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 7/8]

 

 

Lottery consequences

In a report on the negative consequences of winning the lottery, the Manchester Evening News (24.10.97) reports that the Muslim from Blackburn who won £18m is now living in a six-bedroomed mansion in Buckinghamshire following marriage problems, domestic violence, police arrests, legal action, family rifts and a religious row over the moral aspects to playing the lottery. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Community centre bid dropped

Plans to convert an ex-builders’ merchants in Manor Park into a Muslim community centre have been dropped. Approximately 40 local residents had signed a petition complaining that the proposal would have caused parking and road safety problems, although twice that number apparently supported the plans. No reason was giving for dropping the scheme (City of London Recorder, 24.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Luton centre consideration

The owners of the Selbourne Road cultural centre in Luton, the Jamia Al-Akbaria Islamic Educational and Cultural Trust, have been told that they can no longer use the centre for weddings after five thousand guests turned up for a Muslim wedding. The Trust were given another two years to continue to hold religious instruction classes for children but weddings and socials were banned due to the traffic congestion caused by the events (Luton on Sunday, 26.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Community centre plans

Rotherham planning officers are expected to give permission for the use of a terraced house in Fitzwilliam Road as an Islamic centre for the town’s Kashmiri community. The centre will be used for education and an advice centre. However, officials are expected to impose conditions on the use of the building because of possible disruption for local residents. Environmental health officers have already required sound-proofing and restrictions in opening times for the centre (Barnsley Star, 29.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Community celebration

The Khoja Shi’a Ithna-Ashari community in Stanmore have held a 25th anniversary of their arrival in the area at their cultural centre in Wood Lane. The celebration included a dinner followed by speeches and guests included Harrow East MP Tony McNulty and Muslim Parliament leader Dr Ghayasuddin. The community began in 1972 when Ugandan Asians arrived following the expulsions by Idi Amin (Stanmore & Edgware Observer, 30.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Religion in the South West

The Western Morning News (30.10.97) reports on religious communities in the Westcountry. Exeter has one of the busiest mosques in the area attracting approximately 700 people. The Islamic Centre was established in 1978 by university students and runs classes for children at weekends. There are also smaller Islamic centres in Torquay and Plymouth. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Derby lights

In Derby the street illuminations were switched on for the Hindu festival of Diwali. They will remain switched on for Christmas and Eid, which will be celebrated towards the end of January. The Mayor of Derby, John Fuller, who conducted the lights ceremony, said: "The lights look very impressive and reflect the cultural diversity of our city" (Derby Express, 30.10.97) [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Southend review

In a report in the Southend Echo (04.11.97), attention is drawn to the mosque in West Road, Southend, which was the first to be established in south east Essex. The mosque holds regular prayers and hold children’s classes. The building was formerly a Methodist church. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Education

Kirklees letter

Rob Vincent, Kirklees Council’s Chief Education Officer, has written an open letter to Awaaz (01.10.97) outlining the Local Education Authority’s aims regarding educational provision and the Muslim community. These include: increasing the number of new Muslim teachers; improving career prospects for existing teachers; more in-service training on Muslims and Islam; collaborating with Muslim schools and FE colleges to develop post-16 opportunities for education and training; working with community projects on economic regeneration projects; developing more out-of-school projects in conjunction with Muslim organisations; supporting the Black and Asian Governors’ networks; providing prayer facilities in schools; ensuring that language development is closely linked to other strategies for raising attainment; increasing communication with Muslim parents; and creating a new senior post in school and community liaison. Mr Vincent concludes: "I believe this agenda reflects the concerns of the community as they have been addressed to us...Please write to me if you have any comments you wish to make in response to this". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8]

 

 

Manchester tree planting

As part of Islam Awareness Week (see BMMS for September 1997), the Manchester Muslim Preparatory School organised a tree planting expedition to the Red Rose Forest. The school has taken as its project Islam and the environment and displays on this theme have been set up around the school. One display features leaves from trees in the school grounds. One of the teachers, Mrs Mian said: "The children had become so concerned with their environment that some of them refused to take even just a few leaves from the trees for the display" (South Manchester Reporter, 04.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 8/9]

 

 

RE festival

In Huddersfield and Heckmondwicke, Islam was one of the religions featured in exhibitions and events at several venues in the area as part of the National Festival of Religious Education (Awaaz, 01.10.97, Huddersfield Examiner, 07.10.97). The other religions included Christianity, Judaism and Sikhism and the Islamic input was largely from the IQRA Trust, a London-based organisation whose aim is to promote the understanding of Islam in Britain. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

 

School profiled

The Paddington Times (09.10.97) has a feature article about The Avenue School, a small Muslim nursery and primary school, which started a year ago in Paddington. The headteacher is Terence Pearson, a teacher from Cornwall who converted to Islam eight years ago. He said of the demand for the school: "Islam is strong on ethics and manners. Muslims are very polite. That is what parents want from a school and it is not always what they get at mainstream schools. Also, Muslims are keen on knowledge. They want their children to learn facts". A quarter of the children’s time is spent on Islamic studies, learning Arabic and reading the Qur’an. The remainder of the time is spent on the national curriculum and pupils start the day early to fit everything in. At the beginning of October, the school had an open day, attended by the mayor of Paddington, Mark Cummins. Councillor Cummins remarked: "What makes this school very unusual is that it is a Muslim school where the base language is English. That is very important. This will help you integrate with the wider community" (Paddington Times, 09.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

 

John Hull on RE

John Hull, Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham has an article entitled ‘The carrier of new hopes’ published in The Times (10.10.97), coinciding with the week-long National RE Festival. In the article, Professor Hull argues that: "The creation of a truly non-sectarian publicly funded religious education for all children is one of Britain’s greatest achievements. There can be no greater demonstration of the need for us to promote this subject than Lord Tebbit’s declaration this week that ‘multiculturalism is a divisive force’". Professor Hull maintains that although the system of RE teaching in England and Wales has many positive aspects, there are still improvements which could be made. For instance, he says: "...we look to a time when every primary school will have a properly qualified RE co-ordinator on the staff and to when every secondary school will have theologically qualified staff, because about half of students are taught by teachers with no special training in religious study. We look for a future in which schools will be more sensitive to the needs of the 450,000 Muslim students and to RE to make a significant contribution against the Islamophobia that is such a notable feature of attitudes in the West today". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

 

Campaign against school closure

Parents of pupils at the Queen’s Road Junior and Infant School in Halifax are angry that it may have to close. Zaida Akhtar, secretary of the school’s parents’ association, said: "The school is at the heart of the Asian community and we cannot afford to lose it. All we want is funding for some of the buildings to be improved. Alice Mahon [Labour MP for Halifax] is already aware of the situation and we are in the process of taking the matter to local councillors, that is our next step. The Chief Imam of the Madni Mosque and leaders of the community are supporting us and we plan to hold a public meeting so the situation can be reviewed" (Halifax Evening Courier, 13.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

Islamia funding

Q-News (17.10.97) reports that the staff and governors of the Islamia School in Brent continue to be concerned about this year’s projected deficit of £300,000 (see BMMS for January, June, August and September 1997). Uncertainty at the school has been made worse by the Department for Education and Employment postponing any decision on state funding until January 1998. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

 

Gloucester Muslim school

The Gloucester Islamic Secondary School for Girls, which opened three years ago, is planning to expand. This means that the Gloucester Law Centre, which provides free legal advice, will have to vacate its premises, which it rents from the Muslim Welfare Association. Yacoob Patel, chair of the group which set up the school said: "The school has been a great success, as we knew it would be. We are sorry we have to ask the law centre to leave - we have been very grateful for the rent they pay - but we have to think of the future of the school". The chair of the management committee of the law centre, Phil Ellaway said: "This is obviously a blow to us as we are unlikely to find premises in the private sector at the same low rent we are currently paying. It will be hard but we will manage". The law centre is looking for new premises with disabled access and preferably in the Barton and Tedworth area, which is where the majority of its clients live (Gloucester Citizen, 20.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9]

 

 

Language instruction funding

Hartlepool Council has rejected applications from the Muslim Welfare Association of Hartlepool and the North-East Chinese School of Middlesborough for funds for teaching Arabic and Urdu and Chinese respectively. It had only budgeted £180 [sic] for community language teaching and this had been spent already (Middlesborough Evening Gazette, 20.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 9/10]

 

 

Portsmouth schooling

Mosmu Khandaker, who is the head of Bengali language teaching in Portsmouth, said there was no pressure for a separate Muslim school in the city. Mr Khandaker teaches Bengali at the Priory school in Southsea and he said: "I’ve never heard anyone in Portsmouth press for separate education. People are happy that their children get a good grounding at schools such as the Priory" (Portsmouth News, 22.10.97). He was responding to the Runnymede Trust’s Islamophobia report (see Feature in this issue of BMMS) which urges the government to make state funding for Muslim schools an urgent priority. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Education and Asian girls

The Times Educational Supplement (24.10.97) carries a report on the educational issues of Asian girls. The research was a small-scale study only interviewing nine girls, three from each religion, aged fourteen to eighteen years old, carried out by Dr Harkirtan Singh-Raud of Liverpool John Moores University. Dr Sing-Raud tries, in the research, to highlight the differences between different groups of Asian girls and asserts that schools should try and make more distinctions. It suggests that there is little consensus across religious groups on matters such as uniform and separate schooling. He reports that Muslim girls apparently wanted separate religious schools whereas Sikh girls are in favour of integration. Hindu girls did not prefer uniform to conform to religious considerations whereas Sikh and Muslim girls do. On the issue of sex education, only the Muslim girls wanted to opt out. The girls all agreed that Asian food should be on school meal menus. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Muslim women career destination

Research is being carried out by a research team into the career destinations of 100 Muslim women in Leicester, Bradford, Bolton and London. The women are all aged sixteen to twenty five and an interim report suggests that they face indifference in school, hostility in college and discrimination at work. The report highlights the low expectations of teachers and inadequate careers advice. The researchers suggest that a multi-agency approach is required which encompasses schools, LEA’s, community organisations, further education colleges and universities. The research is a four year project being funding by the Leverhulme Trust. Trying twice as hard to succeed: perceptions of Muslim women in Britain is written by Professor Marie Parker-Jenkins, University of Derby; Dr Kaye Haw and Shazia Khan. University of Nottingham; and Barrie Irving, College of Guidance Studies, Kent. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Sandwell school proposal

Plans to open a Muslim boarding school in West Bromwich have been delayed as Sandwell’s development control committee are to visit the site, a vacant industrial unit (see BMMS for September 1997). Local residents are concerned about increased traffic which the school might generate. The Madinatul-Uloom-Al-Islamyah, the group who are to open the school, hope to convert the premises into a Muslim residential school for pupils aged eleven to sixteen, funded by private donations are fees. The initial plan is to cater for 40 pupils, twenty of which would be residential. It is hoped that the building will contain ten classrooms, a prayer hall, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and ten bedrooms. Objectors to the scheme are being supported by West Bromwich East MP Peter Snape. A spokesman for the school’s owners, Abdul Khan, stated in reaction to the opposition: "The building used to be a factory before with lorries driving in and out. We are reducing traffic congestion and no more lorries would visit the site" (Sandwell Express & Star, 30.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Cardiff school opening

The opening of Cardiff’s first Muslim school has taken place with a special dinner (see BMMS for August and September 1997). The building of Kings Monkton Primary School in Wordsworth Avenue, Roath, was bought by the South Wales Islamic Education Trust in the summer and the school was opened by Yusuf Islam. The school had previously been running in a warehouse in Canton for three years (South Wales Echo, 28.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Rochdale centre plans

Proposals have been made to Rochdale’s Township Planning Sub-committee to build an Islamic religious teaching centre at the junction of Clementina Street and Whitehall Street, Rochdale (Rochdale Observer, 29.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

Batley school article

Awaaz (01.11.97) contains an article on Warwick Road Junior, Infant and Nursery School in Batley. Muslim pupils make up 96% of the school’s population and therefore the school has a commitment to be sensitive to Islamic principles. Where necessary, the National Curriculum has been adapted if it conflicts with Muslim values. The head teacher, Mr Hayes, states: "We have accepted that those elements [of the National Curriculum] which conflict with Muslim values should be subject to some creative adaptations which emphasise types of activity acceptable in Islam. For example, unaccompanied singing in Music or colour, pattern and other non-figurative work in Art". The school particularly involves parents in their children’s education and the school has even started separate meetings for men and women to encourage attendance of Muslim parents who might be unhappy about attending mixed meetings. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10]

 

 

School assemblies row

The parent of a Muslim pupil at Hyrstmount Junior School in Batley has withdrawn his daughter from school assemblies. He claims that parents are being misled about the contents of the assemblies and other parents have joined his protest. The parent, Irfan Daji, stated: "I asked about assemblies at the Annual Parents Meeting in September. I was told that an Islamic assembly was held once a week and a general assembly for all the children on the other four days". He claimed that he was told that the assemblies had the approval of a Muslim scholar but has since discovered that the approval was only given for the Islamic assembly. Mr Daji continued: "I feel as if I and other parents have been misled by the governors. I want to know why the school doesn’t have separate Islamic worship every day as other schools do. I believe that the number of Muslim children in the school justifies this but I was told by the Governors that there was no demand from parents for this" Following a visit to a general assembly in which music and singing feature, he said: "The parents I have spoken to didn’t know what their choices were. Parents were surprised when I told them about the content of the assembly. I felt so strongly about this that I withdrew my daughter from the general assemblies in protest." The Chair of Governors, Mr Shaukat Hafez, claims that the arrangements at the school have the backing of most parents. He said that the school was keen not to segregate children and that the general assemblies were mainly non-religious and aimed to promote social and moral values (Awaaz, 01.11.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 10/11]

 

 

Centre to close

An Islamic study centre in Cedar Road, Newport, will have to close at night after losing an appeal against a council enforcement notice. Complaints were made about the centre opening between 8 pm and 9 am without permission. The Gwent Bangladeshi Association were fined £500 for being open outside of the permitted times, last year (South Wales Argus, 03.11.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 11]

 

 

Politics

Hizb ut-Tahrir on campus

The Jewish Telegraph (15.10.97) and Time Out Magazine (01.10.97) carry reports of the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir on college and university campuses in Britain (see BMMS for January and February 1997). The Jewish Telegraph (15.10.97) reports that Hizb ut-Tahrir were seen distributing anti-Semitic literature outside Manchester University during the Freshers’ Fair and the Jewish Community Security Trust had been informed. Jonny Jacobs, campaigns director at the Union of Jewish Students told Time Out Magazine (01.10.97) the majority of phone calls from victims of racism to the telephone helpline run by Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, the NUS and the UJS, had reported activities in which Islamic extremist groups were allegedly involved. Jonny Jacobs said: "It isn’t just Jewish students who are coming under attack. These groups [the Islamic extremists] can be vitriolic about the Hindu community and the Sikh community, about the lesbian, gay and bisexual community, about feminist movements and, in particular, about Muslims who do not agree with their perspective, a fact which proves we’re only dealing with a tiny section of the Muslim community". Campus Watch, the telephone helpline for those experiencing racism at college or university, can be contacted on: 01426 942826. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 11]

 

 

Sarwar update

Q-News (17.10.97) reports that Mohammed Sarwar, the Labour MP for Glasgow Govan, presently under investigation regarding allegations of bribery and corruption (see BMMS for March, April, May, June, August and September 1997), was further marginalised by being prevented from attending the party’s annual conference in Brighton. He is currently banned from holding office within the party or from representing his constituents, until the internal Labour Party and Strathclyde Police investigations are completed. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 11]

 

 

Bosnia leader visit

An interview with Dr Mustafa Ceric, the President of the Council of Ulema of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who recently paid a visit to Britain (see BMMS for September 1997) has appeared in Q-News (17.10.97). The interviewer asked both political and theological questions. In answer to "Will Bosnia be a secular state or a theocracy?", Dr Ceric replied: "As far as Islam is concerned, all countries belong to one of the following categories: Dar al-Islam, Dar al-Harb and Dar as-Sulh...In the third, intermediate category, Sulh, the situation is such that Islam or the shariah cannot be implemented fully, but the government should endeavour to put it into practice as much as possible. Bosnia is not in the first category, but the third. Therefore we are obliged to try our best to put Islamic legislation into practice, but it is unrealistic to expect us to implement shariah completely. That’s what I want, of course, but it will not happen just like that". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 11]

 

 

Al-Muhajiroun ban

The Southall Gazette (03.10.97) reports that Al-Muhajiroun, acting under the name The Society of Converts to Islam, booked a hall for a meeting at Southall Community Centre which Ealing Council subsequently decided was likely to involve a breach of its rules regarding incitement to racial or religious hatred. Before hearing of the ban, Suleiman Keeler, organiser of the Rally against Israel event said: "If some people misinterpret our intentions as violent then that is not our fault. We want people to boycott Jewish businesses, not talk to Jews, but we do not instruct followers to physically attack Jews. Just because the subject matter is a little bit hot it does not mean this event is not going to be a fun day. It is for all the family and there will be book and clothes stalls and a series of lectures. If it is banned I will be annoyed but we will find somewhere else to stage it". A spokesperson for Ealing Council said: "We are grateful to the Gazette for bringing this matter to our attention. The venue was told this was a fun day but as it transpires it breaches our ban on meetings staged by groups that express or incite hatred, abuse or contempt, or advocate discrimination against any race, religion or ethnic group resident in the borough".

Following the banning of the meeting, the group held an outdoor protest at Ealing Town Hall (Southall Gazette, 17.10.97). A member, Amera Mirza, was charged with inciting racial hatred during the two-day protest and released on unconditional bail. Banners displayed by the group included slogans such as: ‘The hour will never come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them’ and ‘What Holocaust?’. A spokesman for Al-Muhajiroun, Suleiman Keeler, said: "This campaign refers strictly to Israeli Jews supporting the state of Israel, not British Jews, who have nothing to fear from us. All we are trying to do is bring attention to the situation in Israel" (The Gazette Ealing & Acton, 24.10.97). Objecting to the meeting, a spokesperson for the Central Jamia Mosque, in Montague Way, stated: "I have no sympathy for them. The group cannot bring the problems of the Middle East to Southall. We want to live in harmony here, not stir up trouble. The Central Jamia Mosque does not support fundamentalist groups. They spout nonsense that disturbs the community. I do not support their meeting or their rally outside the town hall. I won’t be going" (Southall Gazette, 1710.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 11/12]

 

 

MP and News of the World article

East (22.10.97) reports that Lorna Fitzsimmons, MP for Rochdale, has angered some of her Pakistani and Kashmiri Muslim constituents by an interview in the News of the World’s magazine. She apparently told the Sunday magazine: "I’m an immensely sexual person... there are some men I think ‘Cor, Wouldn’t mind giving you one!’. Generally, if I want to go to bed with somebody I tell them. If I want to do something particularly gross with them, I tell them". East believes that it is not only Ms Fitzsimmons views on sex which have alienated some of her constituents, but her continuing support of the labour Friends of Israel and that her predecessor, the Liberal Democrat Liz Lyn was a more vocal and consistent supporter of the Kashmiri cause. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12]

 

 

Muslim Parliament article

East (08.10.97) carries a full-page interview with Dr Ghayassuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament. The interview heralds the Muslim Parliament’s conference on 19 October on Islamophobia, timed to precede the Runnymede Trust’s launch of their publication on the topic (see Feature in this issue of BMMS). The article begins with Dr Siddiqui’s condemnation of the Guardian in particular and the British media in general, when he says: "‘Unelected’ - why do they call us unelected? If we are unelected as they say, then why don’t they go somewhere else for a quote, why come to us? They asked us about Sharia law because they said they wanted an authoritative voice on the topic. And yet they still insist on calling us unelected". Dr Ghayassuddin charts the growing consciousness of Muslims, particularly those with origins in the Indian sub-continent, of being Muslim in Britain. He said: "They all thought our former colonial masters were doing us all a favour by letting us in. But the thing no-one stopped to realise was the fact that India was a wealthy country until the British had come in. But after the Rushdie Affair, everyone began to look at themselves and realised that they had fewer jobs, their children’s identity was lost in a foreign environment and they were coming out of school barely able to read or write. Our research has shown that a university graduate is 10 per cent more likely to be unemployed, but for a Muslim graduate that number runs into more than 50 per cent. In fact, when I was in Oldham, someone shouted that more than 80 per cent of the town’s graduates were unemployed. We have become like African slaves in the Americas". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12]

 

 

MP’s Qur’an criticism

Q-News (17.10.97) reports that the medical magazine Pulse has published an apology to its Muslim readers for a sentence in their ‘Doctor in the House’ column, written by the Labour MP and medical doctor, Dr Stoat. The offending sentence was: "Frantic scribbling renders my speech practically illegible, resembling now a page from the Qur’an". The magazine received many protests from Muslim doctors, including Dr Jaffer Qureishi of the Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association. The editor, Howard Griffiths, promising a full retraction, said: "Pulse regrets the mention of the Koran in the Doctor in the House column. Pulse enjoys good relations with many of our readers who are Muslim and we are very upset about any possible offence the article may have caused. We did not intend to cause offence and apologise". Q-News has promised to send Dr Stoat a copy of the Qur’an to further his understanding. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12]

 

 

Barking vote

The 900 members of Barking Muslim Social and Cultural Society are to have the opportunity to vote for a new president. The candidates are former councillor Abdul Khokhar and Javed Iqbal (Barking & Dagenham Post 29.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12]

 

 

MEP dinner with Muslims

The Solihull Muslim Community Association have invited Euro MP Christine Oddy to be their guest speaker at their annual dinner at the Solihull Banqueting and Conference Centre (Solihull News 17.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12]

 

 

Women

Attack and rape update

Police in west London are continuing to investigate the abduction and rape of an 18-year-old Muslim woman who was wearing hijab when she was kidnapped (see BMMS for August and September 1997). They are puzzled by allegations made by the Muslim group, the Defenders of the Faith, who are offering a reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible, that there have been two more similar rapes and a murder of a Muslim woman in the same area. The Defenders of the Faith are leafleting many mosques in west and north London asking for help in investigating the crimes. A member of the group, Abdullah Khan said: "We have not informed the police about two crimes because they often aren’t willing to investigate crimes against Asians. We have contacts on the streets who can provide the information the police don’t have. Also, the families of rape victims feel a lot of shame, so they want to keep it quiet. We don’t intend to carry out our own justice. We’re not going to lie about the situation . We have proper evidence that the incidents took place". Sergeant Jeff Little at Wembley Police Station said: "We would be very against a group of people taking the law into their own hands in this way. They could be leaving themselves wide open. Obviously if there is any new information then we want to know about it. If other crimes are happening it doesn’t help anybody at the end of the day" (Wembley Observer, 02.10.97). Q-News (17.10.97) interviewed several members of Defenders of the Faith about the alleged rapes, which some of the group put at twelve, but they all declined to give their full names. The article in Q-News concludes: "Anybody with any information regarding the rape has been asked to call Paddington CID on 0171 321 9600 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. They don’t have to give their name". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 12/13]

 

 

Group create rap

A group of Muslim women in Sandwell have released a rap cassette in collaboration with the female rap star Hard Kaur and the Jubilee Arts Project of West Bromwich. The women have been following a course in music production and lyric writing at the arts centre. The record is called ‘What’s Up Fool’ (Sandwell Express & Star, 20.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Sandwell arts

The Tipton Muslim Women and Girls Group are to have an exhibition of their work, called the Zebaish Exhibition, displayed in West Bromwich Town Hall. Their work, based on traditional methods from Pakistan and Bangladesh, includes applique, embroidery and textile creations. Some works by members of the group have already been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum (Sandwell Chronicle, 17.10.97; Sandwell Express & Star, 21.10.97; Sandwell Chronicle, 24.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Youth

Mosque in anti-drug initiative

The Darnall Mosque has joined forces with the Darnall Community Crime Prevention programme to try to dissuade children and young people from drugs and crime. The co-ordinator of the programme, Sarwar Khan Awan, said: "It’s all about getting young kids off the street. We believe that religion is the basics because Islam does not allow anything involving drugs and alcohol. It carries great punishments and once the children learn about Islam they never venture back on to the streets" (Sheffield Star, 09.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Interfaith

Kirklees interfaith

On 17 October the Calderdale and Kirklees Interfaith group, which aims to create better understanding between Jews, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs, planned to hold an Interfaith Seminar between Muslims and Christians in Halifax. This is held to coincide with other local interfaith and multicultural events being held as part of the European Year Against Racism and the National Week of Religious Education (Daily Jang, 13.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Archbishop in Leicester

On 14 October the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, visited the Leicester Central Mosque and the Shree Sanatan Hindu Mandir. At the Central Mosque, Dr Carey was received by the Imam, Maulana Shahid Raza Naimi and the Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ray Flint. During his visit to Leicester, Dr Carey spoke of the need for tolerance: "We are not all the same and there is no reason to deny that. We should be recognising diversity, and celebrating diversity, working together for the good of one human family" (Leicester Mercury, 14.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Bishop calls for contact

David Smith, Bishop of Bradford, who has just returned from Pakistan, has unveiled plans for exchanges between Christians and Muslims in Bradford and Pakistan (see BMMS for September 1997). He told the synod: "It is my hope that we may be able to send clergy who work in parishes where there are many Muslims on ‘mini sabbaticals’ to Rawalpindi where there is a Christian study centre. They will learn a great deal. Likewise I hope we shall welcome Christian and Muslim leaders from Pakistan among us here in Bradford. We have much to give as well as to learn" (Yorkshire Post, 03.11.97).[BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Jewish-Muslim meeting

Jews and Muslims met at the Muslim Community Centre in Eton Road, Ilford, for a meeting at which speakers described how similar the two religions are. The chairman of the League of British Muslims, Bashir Chaudhry, said: "We are living in a Christian country and we have a very satisfactory relationship with our Christian brothers and sisters and now we extend our arms of friendship to another significant community that also follows the holy book" (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 23.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13]

 

 

Halal

Goats disappear

The Daily Telegraph (10.10.97) reports that dozens of wild goats from a herd living near Lynton on Exmoor have disappeared. Ray Werner, a Londoner who has studied this herd for more than 30 years said: "On two occasions lorries were seen in the valley at night. I am convinced that a large number have been taken for their meat. Some halal butchers will pay around £100 for a goat". The police are not involved as the goats are not owned by anyone. In the past they have been shot by gardeners annoyed by their straying into gardens and causing destruction. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 13/14]

 

 

Non-halal additives

A report in the Daily Telegraph (01.11.97) reveals that the common food ingredient L-cysteine or L-cysteine Hydrochloride (HCL) can be produced from either petroleum or directly from human hair, the latter being much cheaper. The additive is used as a flavouring and dough enhancer. The hair is collected in the Far East, cleaned, processed and chemically converted into the additive. Masood Khalwaja of the Halal Food Authority states in the article: "We are working on a list of taboo ingredients, such as L-cysteine, and in which food products they can be found. It is a difficult task. There are 20,000 different additives and a new one emerges every day". He advises that Muslims call the manufacturers of food products to ensure that the food they wish to eat is L-cysteine-free. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Health

Muslim smoking habits

Q-News (17.10.97) carries a review of the Health Education Authority’s survey Smoking Among Black and Minority Ethnic Groups (see BMMS for September 1997). The survey showed very high rates of smoking amongst men of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin. Dr Majid Katme, president of the Islamic Medical Association said of the findings: "I blame the ulema, leaders and doctors in the Muslim community. They have neglected the issue of smoking, they never talk about it and they are not trying to educate people". He gave several reasons why smoking is un-Islamic: "...he or she [the smoker] is wilfully defying Allah by damaging his or her body. The second is that the Quran tells you not to waste money; people who waste money are called the brothers of Satan. Thirdly, Islam forbids any action which causes harm or annoys the people around you. Smoking clearly does that. Finally, Islam forbids you from polluting the environment. The medical evidence against smoking is irrefutable...Islam forbids you from killing yourself and there is no doubt that smoking is a slow form of suicide". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Donor crisis

Dr Mohammed Naseem, chair of the Central Mosque in Birmingham, has joined forces with local health officials to try and prevent a crisis regarding the lack of donated kidneys and other organs for transplant, particularly from Asians. At present, a third of the 450 patients waiting for a kidney transplant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital are Asian. Transplant co-ordinator Beverly Cornforth said that there is a greater chance of finding the right match for transplants if the donor and the recipient come from the same ethnic background. Dr Naseem said: "It is part of the Muslim faith to help save the lives of others but I think the problem is that transplants are a modern thing. Some people do not understand they can function on just one kidney so it is all about telling people that" (Birmingham Metronews, 02.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Healer offers cure

A Muslim who believes he can heal the sick using the power of prayer alone has offered to cure the actor Christopher Reeve. Christopher Reeve, the former star of the Superman films, was paralysed following a riding accident a few years ago. Ali Khan, who lives in Langley, Buckinghamshire, said: "I believe I have got the capability and the gift from God. I am going to put everything that is in the Koran into practice. I will read him the words which I have in the Koran and move my right finger around his neck. With the help of God he will be up and walking. The only condition is that I cannot go there. Somehow he must get in contact with me. I want to do it in front of the television cameras, so that the whole world can see what happens...It is nothing to do with me, I am just a channel, I am using God’s words" (Slough & Langley Observer, 03.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Aldershot burials

New cemetery space costing £200,000 is to be developed in Aldershot, where there are only 750 graves left in the town’s three cemeteries for both Aldershot and Farnborough. Of these, 200 are reserved for Muslim burials, but some could be used for non-Muslim burials if necessary (Q-News, 17.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Bishop’s Stortford, Hockerill Street

The trustees of the Herts and Essex Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre have expressed their disappointment after their plans for a mosque in Hockerill Street were finally rejected by Bishop’s Stortford’s council development control sub-committee (see BMMS for January, February and September 1997). One of the main objections was potential traffic congestion. Dilwar Ahmed, president of the Muslim group said: "I will keep on looking [for an acceptable site] until my death. We need a place to worship locally and to teach our children about our culture. I cannot believe the district council has rejected the plans even after we have amended them to have less impact on the traffic. Now we must begin looking for an alternative site" (Bishop’s Stortford Citizen, 15.10.97). Quoted in the Herts & Essex Observer (16.10.97) he further states: "We are not happy at all; this is really against the minorities. In a multi-cultural society all people enjoy their rights, but we haven’t got the right to enjoy our own culture". Mr Ahmed rejected the reasons for the planning refusal: "We can totally control the traffic. It will be a very small activities centre. There will only be four or five cars, people will take turns in taking each other’s children there. We have to have a hall or some sort of place where we can meet together, I don’t really understand the problem. We are not seeking any financial help from the local authority or the Government". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 14]

 

 

Bolton, Gibraltar Street

On 15 October the first bricks of the Al-Falah Mosque on Gibraltar Street, Deane were laid (see BMMS for July and August 1996). The mosque committee hope that the building will be ready within six months. The voluntary site manager said: "There is already one mosque in the Deane area on Derby Street, but it is hard for the older people from this area to get to it, especially in the winter months. There are five prayer times every day and the older people like to stay at the mosque for the prayer times in the evening. This neighbourhood mosque is a dream come true. It is very exciting to think that all our hopes are becoming reality" (Bolton Evening News, 16.10.97). The building of a mosque was first suggested three years ago and the community is raising the necessary £400,000 (Bolton Journal, 23.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 15]

 

 

Bournemouth and Gillingham, Dorset burials

Bournemouth Borough Council has approached Gillingham Council in north Dorset to see if it has a suitable area in its cemetery for Muslim graves, to cope with Bournemouth’s overflow and has begun preliminary discussions with Gillingham. Bournemouth’s bereavement services manager, Julie Dunk, wrote to thirteen local authorities in Dorset explaining that Bournemouth has no more cemetery space for graves facing Mecca and anticipates a severe shortage in the future. She took this initiative following representations from undertakers and ethnic minority groups in the Bournemouth and Poole area. A spokesperson for Bournemouth Council explained: "The land would need to be for the exclusive use of Muslims and would have to be orientated in a certain direction. Muslims living in the Bournemouth area would be quite happy to travel some distance if required. None of the towns or villages approached has refused point blank to help but several, like Gillingham, have requested more details" (Western Gazette, 09.10.97). Opposition to the possibility of a Muslim cemetery in Gillingham has come from an ex-naval officer, Peter Maddock, who is concerned about the impact of such a burial ground on ley lines in the area. He told the Western Gazette (16.10.97): "With the best possible will and no disrespect whatsoever, it would be unwise to consider placing a burial ground for a non-Christian faith directly on a ley line along which Christianity itself passed and developed. A ley line runs through Gillingham passing to the north-west through Castle Gary and Glastonbury to Ireland. South-eastward the ley line of force runs through the very early Christian settlement of Shaftesbury, then skirts Bournemouth and goes onwards to France. The forces and influences exerted by these ley lines which criss-cross Europe are not yet understood because science has not yet progressed sufficiently far to provide explanations. Are the risks for Gillingham of meddling with scientifically inexplicable forces really worth taking, especially when there is so much land available midway between the ley line skirting Bournemouth and another line passing through Dorchester? I would not like to forecast that something cataclysmic might happen, like the ground opening up and swallowing everything, but you might find people acting out of character. I saw evidence of this when I visited a war cemetery in France and saw that the 300 German graves had been broken and repaired while those of the Allies had not been touched." [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 15]

 

 

Bournemouth and Poole burials

Dorset’s Muslims are hoping that land will be made available for Muslim graves in the proposed new cemetery to be built in Magna Road, Poole. The spokesperson for the Poole Islamic Centre, Tariq Palmer said: "Using the appropriate burial rites respects the dignity of the deceased and the bereaved. It is not a big problem as there have only been 10 Muslim burials in the county. We are an integral part of the community but I would like to stress we will fit in with any arrangement that can be made". He explained that the orientation of graves facing Mecca tended to cut across that of the traditional lay-out of Christian graves, causing a waste of space and unnecessary expense: "We’re having to take two plots instead of one. In a particular graveyard we had to take three plots for one burial which cost over £1,000 for the land alone" (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 20.10.97). The Bournemouth Daily Echo estimates that there are approximately 1,500 Muslims in Dorset, including a growing number of converts. The newspaper explains that there is a mosque in St Stephen’s Road, Bournemouth, in premises acquired in 1992 and prior to that, there was a small mosque in Charminster. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 15]

 

 

Chesham

A community leader, Mohammed Saleem, has appealed to Chiltern District Council for cash to help build a new mosque in Chesham. He said that the present building is too small to accommodate everyone. The council is discussing the plans for a £250,000 mosque and community centre. Mr Saleem said: "We need the council to help pay for the project, because we need to give our youngsters something to stop them turning to crime and drugs. We all pay our rates and rents, and I think the council should help us a bit more financially. It is a lot of money and the Asian community cannot pay for it all. The mosque is crucial in maintaining a sense of identity for the Asian community". Alan Goodrum, speaking for the council, said: "These things, like the mosque in Wycombe, are usually funded by the local community. Discussions are at a very early stage, but at the moment we have no plans to help fund the mosque" (Bucks Free Press, 17.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 15]

 

 

Chorley, Brooke St

Growing numbers of Muslim worshippers in Chorley have made a larger mosque necessary. The town’s Muslim Welfare Society has found a site in Brooke Street which has been approved by the council’s ethnic minorities consultative committee as suitable for the purpose. Now the local Muslim community will need to find approximately £32,000 for the site and another £250,000 for the mosque itself. A spokesperson for Chorley’s Muslim Welfare Society, Najeeb Raza said: "The price of the land has to be resolved. The land is valued at £32,000 but because we will be using it for religious purposes and not as business premises, we feel we are entitled to a reduced price. The mosque will portray noble feelings and will have an immense impact on people when they see it" (Chorley Guardian, 15.10.97). Following the finding of a site, Councillor Terry Brown, chairman of Chorley’s ethnic minority consultative committee, said: "We are delighted that at long last we have been able to identify a suitable site for the new mosque. It has taken some time, but we believe this particular piece of land will be just right and will serve the needs of the Muslim community well". (Chorley Citizen, 16.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 15/16]

 

 

Dundee, Dura St

A mosque and community centre in Dundee has been officially opened. The Scottish Cultural Centre will provide a place for worship with facilities for cultural and community activities. The guest speakers at the opening were Dundee Lord Provost Mervyn Rolfe, MP John McAllion and Pakistani Consul in Glasgow, Tajamal Altaf. The community had raised £25,000 which has been spent on transforming the upstairs of the former Orange Lodge building into the mosque. Fundraising has now started to renovate the downstairs area as a community and activities hall (Dundee Courier and Advertiser, 03.11.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 16]

 

 

Leyton, Beaconsfield Rd

Hafiz Muniruddin Ahmed is to being prosecuted by Leyton Council for allowing his house in Beaconsfield Road, Leyton to be used as a mosque. Waltham Forest magistrates heard that the council issued Mr Ahmed with notices demanding that all religious activities should cease by January 1995 and that he replace the ablutions area with a kitchen, bathroom and toilet. Mr Ahmed is pleading not guilty. He asked for an adjournment of the case until after Ramadan and magistrates will now hear the case on 19 February. If convicted, Mr Ahmed could face a £20,000 fine (Leyton & Leytonstone Guardian, 02.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 16]

 

 

London, Whitechapel

The East London Communities Organisation (TELCO) has added its voice to protests against a proposed development of 80 flats next to the East London Mosque in Whitechapel. A spokesperson for TELCO said: "They would not build flats next door to Westminster Abbey, so why are they proposing to do this next to the mosque? This mosque is an international place of worship for Muslims from across the world and should be protected and respected as such" (East London Advertiser, 09.10.97). The mosque is allowed to broadcast the adhan through loudspeakers in the minaret but worshippers fear that once the flats are built, the residents will complain. The Assistant Secretary of the mosque, Abu Hasan, said: "At the moment we broadcast the adhaan three times a day with consideration for the local people so that they are not disturbed in the early or late hours of the day. But once we have a residential building next to the minaret, that privilege is not likely to last long. This will take away the unique character of the mosque ... The mosque is always thriving with people. During Eid time we have about 15,000 coming to the mosque. Every Friday over 3000 people attend prayers. There are children and elders alike in and out of the mosque - and on special occasions the mosque remains open throughout the night. Having flats on its doorstep is going to lead to things like noise objections and congestion" (Asian Times, 04.11.97). The mosque trust has offered to buy the planned flats site, currently a disused car park, for a community hall and health and education centre. Local community members are supporting the mosque besides TELCO include a local synagogue and church (East London Advertiser, 23.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 16]

 

 

Loughborough burials

Loughborough Council has decided that, in future, the number of grave plots which a family can buy in advance in order to ensure being buried together will be limited to three, following complaints about unfairness in the matter. The issue arose when the family of a young Muslim girl who had died earlier this year asked to buy ten plots together in the Muslim section of Loughborough cemetery to ensure the family would be buried together. Eventually the family was given permission to buy five neighbouring plots. Since the decision was made, the Bangladeshi Social Association has written to the council, condemning the whole idea of pre-selling. Abdus Shahid, chair of the association, said that from an Islamic point of view, pre-purchase was not permitted as such space should be left open to other Muslims who die earlier. Haseeb Ahmad, the council’s equality officer, had suggested three as a maximum number, which would allow close family members to be buried together whilst at the same time not giving the impression that some families were being treated more favourably than others. [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 16]

 

 

Loughborough, King St

The results of the public consultation on the call to prayer being broadcast from the Loughborough Mosque (see BMMS for May, June, July and August 1997) have now been published. Officers told a meeting of the Charnwood Borough Council’s environment committee that 2,250 households had been leafleted following the six-week trial period. Only 266 residents responded, of whom just 52, or 20 per cent, said they did not want to hear the call to prayer at all. The amplified calls to prayer are restricted to three times a day between 8.30am and 8pm and a maximum of 50 decibels. The council will review the arrangement after a year (Loughborough Echo, 03.10.97, Loughborough Mail, 09.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 16]

 

 

Luton, Bury Park

Luton’s chief planning officer, David Watts, has recommended that the planning committee approve plans by the Bury Park Road Mosque for the change of use of a nearby shop and flats (see BMMS for August 1997) . The premises are in Dunstable Road and the mosque committee wants to change them into a madrasa and community centre (Luton News, 08.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Lynn, Norfolk burials

Imam A A Karim, president of the West Norfolk Islamic Association, has written to the Lynn News (10.10.97) protesting about remarks made by Moss Evans, a former trade unionist and now a Norfolk councillor, concerning provision for Saturday burials when necessary to meet Muslims’ needs for burial within 24 hours (see BMMS for September 1997). Imam Karim writes: "To deny us our religious rights or to seek to penalise us for exercising such rights , smacks of blatant discrimination. Today, it is Saturday burials; tomorrow, it could be something else and the day after...?" [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Morden, London Rd

Whilst objections continue to the proposed new mosque in London Road, Morden (see BMMS for January and August 1997) one reader of the Wimbledon News (10.10.97), J Jacob has written to the newspaper to complain about the ignorance of some of the objecting readers and also about inaccuracies in the paper. The reader writes: "...May I also say how disappointed I am with staff at your paper which purports to be a local paper but cannot be bothered to check simple facts. For the benefit of Mr Perry and others please note that there is no mosque on Effra Road, and never has been. There may be a Hindu temple but no mosque. Please get your facts right. Anyway I am now off to the synagogue at St Pauls Cathedral". [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Sandwell, Park Lane East

A dispute has erupted between two Muslim groups in the Sandwell area over plans to build a new mosque. The Tipton-based Shahajalal Mosque and Madrassa Jalalia wants to build on land owned by the Tipton Muslim Trust Association, who object to the scheme (Birmingham Post, Sandwell Express & Star, 06.10.97, Kidderminster Express & Star, Birmingham Express & Star, Black Country Evening Mail, 07.10.97). The Tipton Trust’s deputy chair, Montaj Ali said: "In 1993 agreement was reached between Sandwell Council and the trust for a 99 year lease on this land. This agreement we believe is binding and therefore we fail to see how the applicants can build on land to which they have no claim" (Kidderminster Express & Star, Birmingham Express & Star, 07.10.97). Malcolm Hinks, Sandwell’s director of development, was recommending to the council that the plans be accepted in principle, whilst pointing out to both sides that planning permission can only be granted to the owners of the site in question (Kidderminster Express & Star, Birmingham Express & Star, 07.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Smethwick, Halfords Lane

Sandwell Bangladeshi Moslem Association has applied to build an extension to a prayer hall at the rear of their existing mosque (Black Country Evening Mail, 23.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Southall Park, Park View Rd

The Abu Bakr Muslim group, which has been sharing premises with the Central Jamia Masjid in Montague Way, Southall, for the past three years, is now hoping that its bid to purchase a former office building from the Ealing Family Housing Association (EFHA) will be successful. The Abu Bakr Muslim group had to leave their premises in Villiers Road three years ago due to complaints about noise disturbance. They then attempted to buy Park View Youth Centre from Ealing Council (see BMMS for March, May and September 1997). These negotiations have recently broken down, as Abdul Shahid, spokesperson for the group explained: "The council’s conditions of sale on Park View were so restrictive. It insisted on a six-month contract before selling outright, that we could not develop the single-storey building and that it could not be used by more than 160 people at a time. It was an upsetting but necessary decision to pull out. The EFHA has offices in West End House, they will be moving out. This could be the end to our accommodation nightmare...I’m 90 per cent certain of this deal going through. But after the luck we have had in the last few years I have to keep my feet on the ground. I will only know for sure that the deal is for real when we move in. We are not the only bidders" (Southall Gazette, 03.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Southwark, Old Kent Road

The Muslim Association of Nigeria, based in the Old Kent Road, has called a public meeting to discuss its proposals for developing a mosque with a small dome and minaret. They have also written to local residents. The president of the association, Ibrahim Adewusi said: "The dome and the minaret are known features of a mosque and we believe that installing them on an existing building in a modest way will not have an adverse effect. We will do all we can to remain good neighbours" (Southwark News, 02.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Tipton, Binfield St

Planning permission has been given to the Kanz-Ul-Iman Moslem Welfare Association (Black Country Evening Mail, 31.10.97), who had applied to Sandwell Council for planning for a mosque on land off Binfield Street, Tipton, to replace the overcrowded property currently in use in Peel Street. The new building will accommodate 300 people and will include a 30ft high minaret. Petitions had been submitted to the council both for and against the proposal. The council’s senior planning officer, Mr Malcolm Hinks, had recommended that the plan be approved (Black Country Evening Mail, 23.10.97). Mr Hinks said in his report: "The proposed building will be part single-storey and part two-storey. It will contain a prayer hall, kitchen, lobbies, store and toilets on the ground floor and a two-bedroom first floor flat" (Birmingham Express & Star, 27.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 17]

 

 

Watford, North Western Avenue

Detailed plans for a mosque in north Watford have been submitted and residents have vowed to resume a campaign against the mosque. A member of the North Watford Residents Action Group said: "The plans are worse than we feared. About two thirds of the building is two-storey and we did not expect access to the footpath. That means people in the mosque may be tempted to park in the residential roads rather than drive all the way around the Dome roundabout". Discussions have been taking place as to whether to move the mosque site next door to an Asda store. The leader of the Council, Vince Muspratt, said: "To try to work with local superstore Asda seemed a logical thing to do. I am sad to say the discussions have not proved fruitful and the council is very disappointed in the stance that Asda has taken around our hopes for a community facility. While we know the proposed North Western Avenue site is still a good option for the mosque, we are always looking for possibilities for our community in any future major developments" (Watford Observer, 24.10.97). [BMMS October 1997 Vol. V,  No. 10, p. 18]

 

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