British Muslims Monthly Survey for July 1993 Vol.1, No.7

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

High Court to rule on baptism of child

Cuts in "Section 11" funding

CSIC statement on Bosnia

Cousin-marriages and genetic disorders

 

Short Reports

M.O.D. recruitment

Inter Faith Network launch code of conduct

Interfaith meeting on HIV/AIDS

Royal Commission on the criminal justice system

Race relations worker before industrial tribunal

Internal divisions in Middlesborough

Incident outside the American embassy

Sunday trading in Stornoway

Muslim chairman for Racial Equality Council

Egyptian presents radio programmes in Welsh

Muslim cricketers served ham sandwiches

Ethnic minority issues in child care

Concern over Muslim burials in Lambeth

Muslims and the Law in Multi-Faith Britain

Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks in Tanzania

The electronic muezzin

Halal poultry business in danger

Fifth birthday of a Muslim housing co-operative

Raising the profile of Asian women

The New Britons

Survey of Islamic economics

Muslim community centre, Scunthorpe

Muslim chairman for Sheffield REC

Al-Nasr Islamic Centre, Slough

 

Updates

Education

Schoolchildren visit Bangladesh

Dewsbury supplementary school

Muslim Youth: An Emerging Underclass?

Problems at Al-Khoei School

Re-examination of grants for training imams

Muslim tutorial schools

Muslim teacher charged with assaulting pupil

 

Mosques

Southampton

 

 

Features

High Court to rule on baptism of child

A five-month-old baby has become the centre of an inter-religious question which is to be referred to the High Court for a ruling. The child was born to a woman in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and a Muslim man. The couple were not married and the child has been brought up by her mother with little involvement from her father. The girl was due to be baptised in the Church of England on Sunday 18th July but her father obtained an injunction prohibiting the baptism taking place. Her father regards the girl as a Muslim and insists that she will not be baptised.

The temporary injunction was granted under the Children Act of 1989. The case was heard by the Family Division of the County Court sitting in Swindon. The judge ruled that the case should be referred to the High Court in order that a considered legal precedent could be set.

The case has raised considerable comment from Muslim and non-Muslim sources. It is generally recognised by Muslim scholars that the father has no rights over the child in this case as the parents were not married. The child should, therefore, be brought up by her mother. However, as her father is a Muslim there is a line of argument which says that she must be brought up as a Muslim according to Islamic law. This case has been made by Dr Suhaib Hasan, the secretary of the Islamic Shariah Council, who bases it on the hadith which says that every child born is a Muslim. Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in London, has commented that under these circumstances, it is the mother's religion which counts.

The case will be heard by the High Court and a precedent will be set which may have far-reaching consequences for similar cases.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.1]

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Cuts in "Section 11" funding

The phrase "Section 11 funding" has been widely used in Britain for nearly thirty years. It stems from Section 11 of the Local Government Act of 1966. This section made provision for money to be paid by central government to enable local government to make more provisions for Commonwealth immigrants. This funding has been used extensively in schools to provide educational support for children whose first language is not English and who come from families who were earlier immigrants to Britain. This usage is strictly speaking an extension of the original intention as the children are not themselves immigrants. However, many children from ethnic minority groups depend on such educational support to help them raise their level of achievement in education.

In the autumn of 1992, the government announced that it would make substantial cuts in Section 11 funding in the 1993-94 local government financial year. This amounted to a 40% reduction in the amount of money which local government could spend on ethnic minorities. Of this reduction, 90% will affect cuts in spending on education. It is estimated that around 4000 posts will be lost which hitherto had been designated for the support of minorities. Such posts include additional language teaching for pupils whose first language is not English and support for these children in the classroom.

This whole area was explored in an article by the Muslim education spokesman Moeen Yaseen in the weekly journal Education (09.07.93). He called for a thorough review of government support aimed at achieving racial and religious equality in Britain. He identified specific areas of concern as: multiply-deprived groups such as Bangladeshis and Turkish Cypriots, an increase in bi-lingual staff in schools, a wider recognition of the needs of linguistically and socially deprived communities in Britain which would include refugees and asylum-seekers and funding for supplementary and tutorial schools in these ethnic minority communities.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.1/2]

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CSIC statement on Bosnia

Every year CSIC runs a summer school for people from Europe and around the world who are interested in learning more about Islam, Christianity and matters which concern the two faith communities. As always, at this year's Summer School there was a great variety in the countries of origin and experience of the participants. The Summer School collectively decided that it wished to issue a statement on the situation in Bosnia. It was signed by 37 participants and reads as follows:

"The 15th annual International Summer School on Islam and Christianity met from 14 to 23 July 1993 in Selly Oak, Birmingham.

We, participants from four continents, have shared Muslim and Christian experiences and faith. We have begun to discuss difficulties and conflicts in a spirit of openness and understanding. We depart from the Summer School with increased mutual respect and with a recognition of the need for more positive work together as Christians and Muslims.

We are appalled at the lack of political will within Europe to protect the human rights of Bosnian Muslims. We feel revulsion at the resulting genocide.

We implore that sanctions against Serbia be actively enforced, and that the European Communities reconsider the decision not to impose sanctions on Croatia."[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.2]

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Cousin-marriages and genetic disorders

Genetic researchers, under the direction of Dr Sarah Bundley, clinical geneticist at the Birmingham Maternity Hospital, and Dr Wagiha Syeda, a community paediatrician in Birmingham, have been conducting a research project into the prevalence of genetic disorders in cousin-marriages amongst the Pakistani community in Birmingham. Their sample was based on mothers who gave birth on weekdays in Birmingham during 1986 and 1987. They found that the incidence of marriages between first cousins amongst the Pakistani community was about 67% which contrasts to a national figure amongst the white population of about 0.5%.

The full results of the research are to be published later this year in the European Journal of Human Genetics but some findings are that 15-16 infants in every 1000 of Pakistani origin had a lethal malformation, and the risk of a child from a cousin-marriage developing a chronic or lethal disorder was about 10% compared to around 3% amongst Pakistani marriages which were not between cousins. It is normally reckoned that the chance of a lethal or disabling disorder amongst white cousins who marry is around 5%. The higher incidence amongst Pakistani cousin-marriages is held to be due to the prevalence of this custom in earlier generations which intensifies the risks.

Most of the problems in these infants are due to recessive genetic disorders. If one parent carries a defective gene, this is normally over-ridden by the other parent's healthy gene. However, if such a gene is present in a family and two members of that family marry then the chances of both parents having the defective gene are increased. If both parents carry the defective gene then their offspring have a 25% chance of inheriting two defective genes which will result in the disease. Overall, the research found that 48% of serious problems in Pakistani children were due to "certain, probably or possible recessive diseases" which contrasts to 3.6% in all other ethnic groups combined.

Dr Bundey has calculated that if people of Pakistani origin ceased to marry relations, the incidence of deaths and serious illnesses amongst young children would drop by 60% within the space of one generation. If Pakistani families contracted marriages with second cousins rather than first cousins, the incidence would be reduced by a factor of four.

The researchers were sensitive to general Muslim and specifically Pakistani custom in this respect but they hope that the local health authority will fund a Muslim genetic counsellor to work with the local community. The Health Promotion Research Trust, which funded the research, has produced a leaflet for distribution amongst Birmingham G.P.'s and they also plan a leaflet for distribution in Birmingham hospitals' outpatient departments.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.3]

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Short Reports

M.O.D. recruitment

Ministry of Defence recruitment figures indicate that no black or ethnically identified officer entered the army last year. One black officer was accepted by the RAF and six officers from ethnic minorities were recruited by the Navy and Marines. There was a general decline in recruitment to the armed forces in line with government cuts. Only 12,044 people were recruited in 1991-92 compared with 24,000 in the previous year. There was a similar reduction in recruitment from black and other ethnic minority groups. Figures for 91-92 (90-91 in brackets): blacks 72 (160), Asians 30 (71), other ethnic groups 10 (11).[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.4]

 

Inter Faith Network launch code of conduct

The Inter Faith Network was set up in 1987 "to link the different faith communities in Britain, to foster good relations between them and to draw on the resources of people of faith as we work to make a reality of our shared citizenship". This body has launched two publications in July. These are part of the International year of Inter-Religious Understanding and Cooperation.

One document was a code of conduct for interfaith activities entitled: Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs. The other was a discussion paper spelling out the Network's response to concepts such as evangelisation, proselytism, dialogue and building a shared community in Britain. It is called: Mission, Dialogue and Inter Religious Encounter. Both publications are available from: 5-7 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9SS.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.4]

 

Interfaith meeting on HIV/AIDS

An interfaith meeting on HIV/AIDS was convened by the Department of Health in London on 7th July. The Minister of State, Baroness Cumberledge, said that all religious groups were asked to play a major role in halting the spread of the disease in Britain. Muslims were present in the form of the Amana organisation. Their representative, Khadija Knight, said that Islam had the potential to make a great contribution in the whole area of sex-education. She explained that many of the government's policies in this area reflected Islamic teachings and asked that there should be wider consultation with religious groups and parents to find appropriate strategies for tackling the question.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.4]

 

Royal Commission on the criminal justice system

The Royal Commission on the criminal justice system published its report in July on ways of tightening up the legal system to prevent any further miscarriages of justice. The views of leading Muslim jurists were canvassed by Q News (16.07.93). Two recommendations met with particular approval, viz. the right of a judge to veto all-white juries and the tightening of rules on uncorroborated confessions.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.4/5]

 

Race relations worker before industrial tribunal

The former director of Gwent Council for Racial Equality, Mr Arif Chohan, appeared before an industrial tribunal to defend his claim that he had been unjustly sacked because he failed to show favouritism to Pakistani Muslims in Newport. His former employers claimed that he had been dismissed after a long string of complaints including being absent from his post without adequately explaining his whereabouts or making contact with his colleagues. The case is proceeding.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.5]

 

Internal divisions in Middlesborough

The internal divisions which have split the Muslim community at the Jamia al-Madina Mosque in Middlesborough (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for May 1993) reached a new depth this month when a 600-name petition was handed to the Middlesborough Council asking them to investigate the problem. The Council had awarded a grant to the mosque to organise community support for all Muslims in the area. Now that a substantial number of Muslims were barred from the mosque, the petitioners claimed that the mosque committee were in breach of the terms of the Council's grant.

The same night that the petition was presented, two leading members of the mosque committee were attacked outside the mosque. Both were knocked to the ground, kicked and beaten. They were detained in hospital overnight. About 60-70 of the petitioners were holding a protest outside the mosque at the time of the assault but they deny that they were involved. Three men were arrested and later released on police bail. The police enquiries are continuing.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.5]

 

Incident outside the American embassy

A group of 200 Muslim women were demonstrating against American policy in Somalia outside the American embassy in London. The demonstration was peaceful until a restaurant manageress with the US Navy left the embassy and repeatedly raised her skirts exposing her legs towards the women. The demonstrators reacted violently by grabbing the woman, forcing her to the ground and pulling her hair. In the ensuing scuffle, a policeman, who went to the woman's rescue, was stabbed and another knocked unconscious. Several protestors were taken from the scene. The woman was charged with using threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour. Charges were dropped against her when she agreed to be bound over to keep the peace.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.5]

 

Sunday trading in Stornoway

The local Christian community in Stornoway, Isle of Lewis, keeps a strict sabbatarian observance and forbids all forms of trading on Sundays. This is widely supported by local Muslims who were recently praised for their harmonious community relations in the T.V. series "Living Islam". A Muslim restaurateur announced that he intended to open his Indian restaurant on Sundays. This met with opposition from local Christians who were generally supported by local muslims. The restaurateur is re-considering his position.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.5/6]

 

Muslim chairman for Racial Equality Council

Mr Ahmed Lunat, the chairman of the Batley Indian Muslim Welfare Society, has been appointed as chairman of the Kirklees Racial Equality Council. He has indicated that he would like to see an improvement in training policies for the large number of people from ethnic minorities who are unemployed and to see his own council taking more people from these groups onto its payroll. He wants to see a change in immigration laws to allow Asian families to bring husbands and wives to this country. While welcoming the increased number of black and Asian school governors he warned that there had been a rapid rise in the number of cases of racial abuse and physical violence against racial minorities.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.6]

 

Egyptian presents radio programmes in Welsh

An Egyptian Muslim, Ali Yassine, who was brought up in Cardiff and learnt Welsh at night school, has been appointed as a Welsh-speaking radio D.J.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.6]

 

Muslim cricketers served ham sandwiches

Muslim cricketers, who play for a Kashmiri side in Stourbridge, West Midlands, reacted abusively when they were served with ham sandwiches during the tea interval at a local cricket match. They verbally abused the ladies responsible for providing the tea. The local cricket league docked 25 points from the team and two members were banned for two matches.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.6]

 

Ethnic minority issues in child care

Strathclyde Regional Council social work department and the Community Relations Council organised a joint conference on "Ethnic minority issues in child care" in Glasgow on 21st June. The conference looked at questions of fostering/adoption, child protection, residential care, family support and encouraging ethnic minority recruitment in child-related social work. The Pakistani community constitutes 41% of the local ethnic minority population and so provides a significant part of the workload in Strathcylde's provision for child care.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.6]

 

Concern over Muslim burials in Lambeth

The local council in Lambeth is running short of burial ground. Since 1966 they have cleared ancient and un-tended burial grounds in their area for re-use. Such ground is unsuitable for Muslim use as fresh burial sites are needed for Muslim burial. The council has agreed to ensure that suitable burial ground is available for its Muslim population but present provisions are set to be exhausted within five years.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.6/7]

 

Muslims and the Law in Multi-Faith Britain

The U.K. Action Committee on Islamic Affairs delivered a memorandum to the Home Secretary for his consideration as part of the Second Review of the Race Relations Act 1976. This memorandum was entitled: Muslims and the Law in Multi-Faith Britain: the Need for Reform. Copies are obtainable from the UKACIA at 146 Park Road, London NW8 7RG. A further report on this memorandum will appear in the BMMS for August.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.7]

 

Archbishop of Canterbury's remarks in Tanzania

Concern has been expressed in the Muslim press (Muslim News 30.07.93) about some remarks attributed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, during a recent visit to Tanzania. There has been some disquiet in that country, with a claimed 65% Muslim population, about the number of Christians in government institutions. Some Christians have been converting to Islam and then taking up da'wah work amongst Christians by calling them to convert to Islam. The government has recently passed legislation that preaching can only be done with the permission of the "government-controlled" Muslim organisation "Bakwata".

Dr Carey was reportedly asked by a local newspaper journalist if he was worried by the "worldwide lack of religious toleration". He is reported to have replied that "Islamic fundamentalism, at one level is a threat, not only to Christianity but to Islam itself and a threat to world peace". It is reported that the Archbishop added that he saw Islamic "fundamentalism" as "a threat to everybody".

The Secretary for the Anglican Communion Affairs, Canon Roger Symon, has written to the Muslim News (20.8.93) pointing out that their report on the Archbishop's comments was seriously misleading. He clarified Dr Carey's position by saying that he does not believe Islam in itself to be a threat to world peace but that both Christianity and Islam can be distorted by extremists who thereby damage the essential character of their own religion. Dr Carey's remarks were made within the context of certain minority Muslim groups of Tanzania who were attacking the faith of local Christians.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.7]

 

The electronic muezzin

A British company has developed an electronic clock which will call Muslims to prayer at the correct times every day. The Adhan Clock was conceived by Kamal Siddiqui of Frazer Nash. The clock is built on a micro-processor and will give a digitally generated call to prayer at the correct time in any major city around the world. It will also show the direction of qibla and the distance from Makkah. It will record the exact phases of the moon, mark the start of each month and sound an electronic canon at the start and end of fasting during Ramadan. It is possible to work out from the clock the exact times of prayer for any date in the past or in the future.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.7]

 

Halal poultry business in danger

A new EC regulation concerning the preparation of poultry is due to be implemented in Britain next year. It was approved by the Council of Agricultural Ministers in 1992. One of its requirements is that all poultry carcasses should be eviscerated in approved slaughterhouses or other approved cutting places. This would affect Muslim butchers who traditionally receive poultry carcasses with the viscera in place so that they can be sure that the bird was slaughtered in accordance with Islamic requirements. The viscera are now removed in the butcher's shop. This practice will no longer be permitted under the new regulation unless the butcher upgrades his premises to the standards of an approved cutting place. The Halal Food Board is to make representations to the Ministry of Agriculture to clarify the situation and attempt to ensure that the halal meat trade can maintain is customary practices.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.8]

 

Fifth birthday of a Muslim housing co-operative

The Ash-Shahada Housing Co-operative celebrated its fifth birthday in June. It specialises in providing housing for muslim individuals and large families. It has 110 properties under its management including three schemes containing units of flats. As with all housing associations, they are now facing problems with government cuts in housing subsidy.

In Oldham, the Oldham Muslim Housing Association has just opened its first scheme of purpose-built houses for Muslims. This consists of 10 three-bedroomed houses, 10 with four bedrooms and 5 with five bedrooms. This is one of a number of schemes which the association is developing but it too is facing a cash shortage due to a cut in state funding.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.8]

 

Raising the profile of Asian women

The Welsh Office and the West Glamorgan County Council are jointly funding a scheme to raise the profile of Asian women in Swansea. The scheme is organised by the county's Racial Equality Council which has employed an Asian woman as a project worker. The scheme runs classes for women in English language, crafts and recreational activities.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.8]

 

The New Britons

During July The Times ran a three-part series on "The New Britons". The second part was devoted to the Asian community (22.07.93). This highlighted the lack of political influence experienced by many Asians, the lack of good role models, the rise of radical elements, the increase in racism and the conflicting demands of traditional and western cultures. It also featured young entrepreneurs from Asian families who are making their mark in British business.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.8]

 

Survey of Islamic economics

The Muslim weekly Q News has been running a series of articles outlining the richness of thinking on economics in contemporary Islam (09.07.93, 16.07.93, 23.07.93).[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.8]

 

Muslim community centre, Scunthorpe

The Pakistani community in Scunthorpe has just opened a new community centre which was funded by a 46% grant from central and local government. It provides amenities for the use of the whole community. It hopes to provide facilities for youth, the elderly and unemployed people as well as serving the religious needs of local Muslims.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9]

 

Muslim chairman for Sheffield REC

The first Muslim has been appointed as chairman of Sheffield's Racial Equality Council. He is Haji Mohammed Nazir. He sees his job as promoting the multi-cultural, multi-faith nature of the city and wants to build a more equitable and harmonious society by eliminating intolerance.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9]

 

Al-Nasr Islamic Centre, Slough

An exhibition has been running during July in the Slough Central Library to promote the work of the Al-Nasr Centre which caters especially for Muslim youth in the area. They run educational classes with an emphasis on English language material as well as teaching a full course in Arabic. They have developed an extensive library with over 1000 books and around 150 videos, mainly in English. The centre also provides assistance with funerals and acts as a referral centre for local social welfare assistance.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9]

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Updates

Education

Schoolchildren visit Bangladesh

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets is to spend 7,000 to send a party of six schoolchildren to Bangladesh to learn more about the culture from which so many children in the area originate. It is hoped that this trip will help to overcome racial problems in their own community.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9]

 

Dewsbury supplementary school

A supplementary school in Dewsbury which has been using a site for a temporary school for four years is in danger of having its application for a permanent building refused on the grounds that there would be a danger to children because of traffic. The school uses a portable building at present and runs a successful school in it. The Muslim leadership claim that there is no risk to children because they are always supervised. The land is adjoined by a row of garages and the local council building maintenance depot. The planning committee have agreed to visit the site before making a final decision.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9]

 

Muslim Youth: An Emerging Underclass?

This was the title of a conference held on 17th July by the National Muslim Education Council. The view was put forward that, as Muslim children prosper in Muslim independent schools, there must be something about government policy in state schools which was in danger of creating a Muslim underclass through chronic underachievement. The conference demanded that more money be spent on minority faith communities and that steps be taken to overcome racial and religious discrimination. An optimistic note was sounded when it was noted that Pakistani men have now caught up with the national average in higher education but Pakistani women and Bangladeshi men were below average with Bangladeshi women well below average.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.9/10]

 

Problems at Al-Khoei School

Problems are reported at the Al-Khoei Foundation's Al-Zahra girls' and Al-Sadiq boys' schools in London. The schools are independent but the fees of 950 per year are extremely modest by London standards. Difficulties apparently began when a new Principal was appointed last winter and immediately terminated the contracts of all 25 teachers. Since then standards have apparently dropped and more than half of the children are threatened with withdrawal by their parents who are not happy with the standard of education.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.10]

 

Re-examination of grants for training imams

Muslim leaders in Blackburn have petitioned their M.P., Jack Straw, on the question of students at the Dar ul-Uloom College in Blackburn receiving state grants. At present the government awards grants to Jewish and Christian students who are following degree courses in theology in preparation for entering the ministry of their religions. The Blackburn Muslims want parity for their students. Mr Straw took the case to the higher education minister Tim Boswell who has promised to re-examine the regulations and look into the matter.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.10]

 

Muslim tutorial schools

Muslim organisations are to be encouraged to set up tutorial schools in all National Curriculum subjects to counter the underachievement of Muslim children. The National Muslim Education Council has decided to take the lead by targeting Bradford and the borough of Newham in east London, both of whom came out badly in the latest government league tables. They hope to use mothers to help with primary classes but will recruit teachers to deal with secondary school subjects.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.10]

 

Muslim teacher charged with assaulting pupil

A 22 year-old Muslim teacher, Yusuf Lorgat, was charged with assaulting a 14 year-old boy at a Muslim boys' college at Summerfield near Kidderminster, Worcestershire. He had earlier been additionally charged with two counts of inflicting grievous bodily harm, with intent, but the prosecution decided to drop these charges at the magistrates' hearing. The case was adjourned to a later date.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.10]

Mosques

Southampton

The prestigious purpose-built mosque in St Mary Street which was given planning permission earlier in the year has run into financial difficulties. They have now launched an international appeal for help to complete the 1 million project.[BMMS July 1993 Vol.1, No.7, p.10]

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