British Muslims Monthly Survey for June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Reaction to the Prince of Wales' documentary

Towards a united Muslim voice

Evangelical group targets Muslims in Britain

Reports on Bangladeshi writer: Tasmila Nasreen

Saudi flag on burger bag

Short Reports

UKACIA memo officially published

BCCI: ten sentenced

Welfare leaflets in Urdu

No reading culture?

Struggles in Kashmir

New day centre, Northampton

Cemetery renovation

Qurbani meat for the hungry

Two Muslims honoured

Weekend burials, Bolton

Bosnia charity commended

Enfield: multi-religious borough

Tibb: holistic healthcare

Pakistani Christian claims asylum

Preston advice centre

Roots of anti-Muslim racism

Muslim graves vandalised

Burial without coffins

Relief work for Bosnia

Newport Muslims seek funds

Graves misaligned

Alcohol abuse in Nottingham

Pakistani Mormon for Britain

Three years for Bolton TEC

Racial liaison group formed, Blackpool

City Challenge programme, Bolton

Ashura processions

Conference on Muslim refugees

Eid ul-Adha concert

Sheffield twinned with Kotli

World population explosion

100th home in Oldham

Glasgow's Muslim jubilee

Leading groups on hajj

"Health awareness days"

Bosnia: interfaith hopes shattered

Rise in racial attacks

Meals-on-wheels, Birmingham

Soccer: a force for integration

Muslim boxing champion

Conference on "fundamentalism"

Helping to have a healthy baby

Race, migration and the elderly

Apologies for hajj slur

Discussion on ecology

Training women for the job market

Muslim PC attacked

Liverpool: Bishop visits mosque

Drugs abuse in Bradford

New director for Muslim Aid

Christian mission is valid

Deterring criminals

Conference on Islamic banking

Astronomy and the lunar month

Pakistani bishop for Rochester

Decline in Islamic Party

Gift for MS appeal

Promoting good race relations

Lecture: "Islam and the West"

Leicester exhibition on Islam

Jewish/Muslim relations

Muslim woman for mayor

Rates bill waived

Money raised for hospitals

Patients' needs in hospital

Luton: "no confidence" vote

Muslim Women's Helpline

Shorter fire fighters sought

Cancer hospitals twinned

Improved maternity care

Halal meat controls

Corner shop survey

New book from women's perspectives

Halal pizza and chips

Muslim women at work

Private mass slaughter for Eid

BBC seeks to equalise opportunities

The unemployment trap

School meals dispute settled

Worldwide Muslim meeting, Dewsbury

Updates

Education

School assemblies, Birmingham

Bradford Muslim Girls' School

Research in learning disabilities

A Muslim school for Gloucester?

Intensive course in Arabic teaching methodology

Sex Education

Weekend school for York

School policy on racist behaviour

Complaints about GCSE English question

Schools' inability to deliver on collective worship

Shortage of minority teachers in Liverpool

Age limit on Islamic school

Muslim teacher escapes gaol sentence

BBC TV: Faith in the system

Mosques

Bolton

Crawley

Leeds

Tower Hamlets

Whitechapel

 

 

 

Features

Reaction to the Prince of Wales' documentary

Early reactions by Muslims to the Prince of Wales' comments in his ITV documentary broadcast on 29th June in which he spoke of his possible future role in Britain as "defender of faith" rather than "defender of the protestant Christian faith" have been welcoming. Sher Azam, the President of the Bradford Council for Mosques, said that "Prince Charles has acknowledged the multifaith situation of Great Britain which he is going to lead if he becomes king" (Bradford Telegraph and Argus 27.06.94). The implicit move to disestablish the Church of England and thus sever the relationship between the monarch and the Supreme Governor of the Church in England has attracted a deal of attention from church members both in favour and against.

The Muslim weekly Q News (01.07.94) referred to Prince Charles as "a respected and well-liked figure" amongst Muslims and commented, "Prince Charles has shown himself to be the most eloquent and sincere non-Muslim defender of our religion that we possess". Any movement towards the "unfair marginalising of minorities" was welcomed by the paper. It did, however, note that the suggestion has come in for substantial opposition from the established church which is "said to be worried as it could lose exclusive rights to its investment and property... if the church were to be disestablished".

The issue of the Prince's tacit admission that he had committed adultery after his marriage had, in effect, broken down was linked to the question of his being the "defender of faith" in a somewhat trivial article in The Observer (03.07.94). This included soliciting obscure support for the original suggestion from the Unification Church and the Church of Scientology which was followed by a roundup of other religious views of the tacit adultery from Hindu , Mormon and Muslim commentators, who were condemnatory, and Reform Jewish and Zoroastrians who were rather more open to working with the reality of the situation. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 1]

 

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Towards a united Muslim voice

The implications of the call by the Home Secretary for Muslims in Britain to unite behind one institutional voice (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for March, April and May 1994) have continued to be explored. Attempts have already been noted at establishing working groups to address this question based around the Council for Mosques in Bradford, the National Interim Committee for Muslim Unity which is convened by Iqbal Sacranie, the convenor of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs, and the established position of the Union of Muslim Organisations. Now the Muslim Forum, which was established to co-ordinate Muslim responses to the Rushdie affair, is to be revived by its convenor Dr Zaki Badawi with a view to the same objective.

Two important points on this question were noted in an editorial in the Muslim News (27.05.94). Firstly, the history of governments selecting which Muslim groups to speak to as "representatives" depending upon which will say what they want to hear was described. It was noted that the government is using a "divide and rule" strategy with which some Muslim organisations and leaders have been either used or have collaborated. The fact was also noted that the government does not use the same criterion of absolute unicity when it is selecting Jewish representative bodies; the Board of Deputies of British Jews does not represent all Jews but is regarded as the voice of the Jewish community. "The problem is not that the government does not know who to listen to or have a dialogue with. It is that it does not want to address Muslim issues and wants to keep Muslims weak".

Secondly, in addressing the reaction of Muslim leaders to the original comments of the Home Secretary, the editorial noted that "what is happening is that the same people [existing Muslim leaders] are forming new bodies for "consultation" while they could have done the same with many of the existing bodies. To an outsider, it seems as if they are vying for leadership. It is hoped such is not the case. The best solution is to keep all the existing organisations and have a united consultative body with not only organisations but also Muslim politicians, academics, youth, professionals, social workers, and leadership to be rotated on a regular basis so that no one is felt [sic] left out. Until that happens we will continue to see competition towards leadership of the Muslim community."

In response to the editorial, Iqbal Sacranie wrote to the Muslim News (24.06.94) to stress that there is no intention on his part to be "vying for leadership" as the statement of the body which he convenes made plain. He also regarded the suggestion that "some Muslims naively allow themselves to be used by the government to further its own ends and against other Muslims" as absurd. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 1/2]

 

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Evangelical group targets Muslims in Britain

A Christian evangelical group called "Operation Mobilisation" has launched a training programme called "Turning Point" aimed specifically at training evangelists to work amongst Muslims in London according to a leaflet photo-reproduced in Q News (24.06.94). The leaflet opens with the statement, "Historically London's venue for free speech, Speaker's Corner is now symbolic of the new war being waged for her soul, the war between Christianity and Islam, between Truth and Deception". The training programme invites people to "learn Islamic apologetics directed at challenging Muslims" and offers courses on the study of Islam and Middle Eastern languages.

Three particular groups are identified as potential subjects for evangelisation: those who are far away from their family and friends and are thus lonely and in need of someone to talk to in London, overseas students from the Middle East who will be their countries' future leaders but may never have another opportunity to hear the Christian gospel, and British Muslim students who are coming to the capital to study and who need to be made aware that they must "make a spiritual choice, a choice between heaven and hell". Finally people are asked to share in the building up of ex-Muslim Christian fellowships alongside multi-ethnic churches where recent converts can be supported and helped to grow to maturity.

According to an accompanying report in the same newspaper, the current project of Operation Mobilisation is part of a paneuropean mission to convert Muslims to Christianity. It is reported that evangelists are at work in Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy and Bulgaria as well as in Britain. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 2/3]

 

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Reports on Bangladeshi writer: Tasmila Nasreen

The plight of the Bangladeshi writer, Dr Tasmila Nasreen, was featured in a report in The Times (18.06.94). Rallies were reported to have been staged in Dhaka organised by the Jamaat-i-Islami and the Committee for Resistance Against Anti-Islamic Propaganda, which attracted ten thousand Muslims who were calling for her execution on charges of blasphemy. Dr Nasreen claims to have told a Calcutta paper that the shariah should be revised to ensure equal rights for women but her remarks were reported to have suggested that she wanted the Qur'an revised to this end. She has been in hiding for two weeks after a writ was issued for her arrest on charges of a "deliberate and malicious attempt to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims". This is the last phase of a long battle with religious leaders over several issues relating to the plight of women in Muslim societies. Muslim sources have claimed that she has been financed by extremist Hindu groups in India, have drawn attention to the salacious nature of her writings and have questioned her moral rectitude. She has been publicly defended by the author Salman Rushdie. Leading Muslim women in Britain have indicated that Dr Nasreen's actions are only part of a desire to seek a re-interpretation of traditional Muslim positions regarding the status of women in Muslim societies.

In a less than fully informed editorial in the same paper, it was noted that "There could be no better illustration of the growing tensions in Islamic countries between the traditionalist Muslim view of women and the most basic feminist aspirations". The plight of the present author was linked to a re-affirmation of the paper's support for Salman Rushdie and to comments made in the Richard Dimbleby lecture by the head of MI5 about that organisation's role in the Rushdie affair. The editorial concluded, "He [Rushdie], Ms Nasreen and many lesser-known writers in Islamic countries are the victims of a conflict between two global cultures which will not be easily resolved. It is vital that this battle should not be underestimated in the West". [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 3]

 

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Saudi flag on burger bag

Following the immediate withdrawal of a take-away bag devised by McDonald's, the burger chain, which featured the flag of Saudi Arabia without permission and which therefore carried the qur'anic verse which forms the shahada [the central statement of faith in Islam] (see BMMS for May 1994), there was some unfortunate reporting in Luton where the Herald and Post (09.06.94), which has covered Muslim affairs locally, for example, the disputes at the Luton Mosque, without unanimous acclaim for its objectivity and sensitivity, concluded its report of the incident, which included a quotation from a local Muslim leader saying "They showed complete disrespect for our religion", by announcing a telephone ballot of its readers who were invited to ring in to register their opinion on whether or not the bag should have been banned. The result of the vote was published in the edition of 16.06.94 where 798 people were recorded as disagreeing with the ban and 182 as supporting it. The manner in which the Herald and Post reported the incident, under the front page headline "Muslim fury at McDonald's bag", was questioned by the President of the Luton Islamic Cultural Association in a letter published by the paper (16.06.94). Mr Riaz Zaman said in part, "I was horrified and shocked to see that your newspaper could pick up on this issue and highlight it in a churlish way. It is needless to say that not just the title but also the rest of the article, was designed to cause animosity between the Muslim and non-Muslim people of Luton. This is also not the first time your newspaper has printed similar articles on the front page. I can only advise you to stop this pathetic programme of activity, as it can only cause a bad relationship between the Muslim and non-Muslim community of Luton who live together without any hostility".

The matter was aired further in the edition of 23rd June with a selection of letters in favour and against the paper's actions. The editor defended his actions on the grounds that "When anything is banned for whatever reason, it is a serious issue. We owe it to ourselves to debate that issue". Correspondents pointed out that the paper had compounded the offence by printing a photograph of the withdrawn bag and thus causing the shahada to be printed on newsprint which would be disposed of irreverently. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 3/4]

 

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Short Reports

UKACIA memo officially published

The UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs' memorandum Muslims and the law in multi-faith Britain: Need for Reform which was released on 29 July 1993 and subsequently presented to the Home Secretary as a contribution to the consultations on the working of the Race Relations Act of 1976 (see BMMS for August 1993) was officially published in June 1994. It called for the right to freedom of religion to be written into British law and for those who discriminate on the grounds of religion to be prosecuted. The publication was noted in the Church Times (17.06.94) where an editorial concluded, "It may, as the authors argue, be possible to frame fresh law against incitement to religious hatred, so that deeds of genuine malice are punishable, or to legislate so that the word "Muslim" cannot be used to conceal racism; but the group asks more than can be given. A law defending religion in general would protect harmful religion from proper inquiry or criticism. Pluralism means what it says: that no single religion can be overbearing in the demands that it imposes on others. Believers of all kinds have to make private arrangements to accommodate their religious principles, and do so at personal cost. While there are undeniably special difficulties for Muslims, that does not mean that the courts are the best place to resolve them." [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 4]

BCCI: ten sentenced

The Abu Dhabi criminal court has passed sentences on ten officials from the Bank of Credit and Commerce International who were responsible for criminal malpractices (Daily Jang 17.06.94). These included a 14 year sentence on Mohammed Swaleh Naqvi, the former chief executive officer (see BMMS for May 1994), and eight years for the founder of the bank, Agha Hassan Abedi. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 4/5]

Welfare leaflets in Urdu

Fife Regional Council Social Work Department has produced a full set of leaflets detailing all their services in Urdu and Bengali to ensure that people who do not have a facility with English will nevertheless be able to have access to the full range of services available. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5]

No reading culture?

The closure of the Daily Awaz earlier this year marks but the last in a list of failed attempts to break into print media aimed at Muslims in Britain. The reasons which might underlie this were explored in an article by Naim Ibrahim in the Muslim News (24.06.94). The general reason behind this failure was posited as a lack of a reading culture amongst Muslims in this country. Several reasons for this were suggested. Islam is essentially a communal expression of a way of life and so communal activities take up a deal of the time which might be devoted to reading. Many Muslims in Britain are so concerned with earning a living that they lack the leisure time to read. Many households are expressions of community living thus depriving family members of the peace and quiet to read. The Muslim communities of Britain come from many linguistic and cultural backgrounds which undermines any homogeneity of literary interests. The article pointed to the need for market research before any Muslim newspapers or magazines are launched to determine exactly to which segment of the market they are aimed. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5]

Struggles in Kashmir

Muslims in High Wycombe staged a day conference with over one hundred representatives as well as local, national and European politicians. The aim of the conference was to raise political awareness about the activities of the Indian government in Kashmir so that they would continue to use their influence to bring about independence in that country. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5]

New day centre, Northampton

The Islamic Pakistani Community Association in Northampton staged a civic opening of their new Jinnah Day Centre which will provide welfare and social services to the elderly of the town. The centre was opened by Muslim leaders together with the Mayor and will provide a library, craft workshops, lunches and recreational facilities. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5]

Cemetery renovation

Following the gift of 20,000 by the popular singer, Paul Weller, to renovate the domed arch at the entrance to the cemetery in Woking which was initially used for the burial of Muslim soldiers from the 1914-18 war (see BMMS for December 1993), the council has now approved plans for the work which will include refurbishing the arch and landscaping the grounds. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5]

Qurbani meat for the hungry

British relief charities contributed meat from qurbani sacrifices [those which take place at Eid ul-Adha] to relieve hunger in over 30 countries this year. Islamic Relief raised US$650,000 which provided food to around 1.4m beneficiaries and Muslim Aid distributed 120,662 to people in a total of 22 countries. Much of the aid went to people in Bosnia and in Bosnian refugee camps whilst others benefited in countries throughout Asia, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 5/6]

Two Muslims honoured

Two Muslims were honoured in the Queen's birthday honours. Mrs Shaukat Amin was awarded an MBE for service to the community in High Wycombe and Khalil Rashid Dale of Dumfries was awarded an MBE for humanitarian work as a nurse in the British Red Cross. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 6]

Weekend burials, Bolton

In 1991 Muslims in Bolton requested the local council to make provision for burials to take place at weekends so that the Islamic custom of burying the dead within 24 hours could be followed. This has worked fairly well during the past three years except that it relied on council officials being able to contact cemetery staff. If such staff could not be contacted during their free time at weekends then the burial could not take place. Council chiefs have now decided to improve the provision by paying cemetery staff a retainer to be on call during weekends. This should mean that any member of the public, not just Muslims, should be able to arrange a burial during any weekend. The cost of the weekend service is reported to be 548 compared to 337 on week-days (Bolton Evening News 10.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 6]

Bosnia charity commended

The important work done by the Bosnia Aid Committee of Oxford, which was founded in 1992, was acknowledged by the Guardian reporter Ed Vulliamy on 14th June when he was awarded the prestigious "James Cameron Award" for outstanding journalism and donated the prize money to the "small but heroic" Oxford charity (Q News 17.06.94). Over the past two years the charity has won considerable respect for its record of getting aid through to people in need. It has set up a forward base in Split whence it runs weekly convoys into the Bosnian hinterland. Many Muslim aid groups have been thwarted because border guards have turned back convoys driven by people who could be identified visually as Muslims but the Oxford group specialises in staffing their convoys with converts to Islam and non-Muslim volunteers who can pass through the border posts without raising suspicion. They have become a medium for transporting relief into Bosnia from various countries which have experienced difficulties in getting aid through. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 6]

Enfield: multi-religious borough

The decision by the newly elected mayor of the north London Borough of Enfield not to appoint a chaplain and not to begin council meetings with prayers has met with a mixed reception. Some have accused Rita Smythe of being an atheist, a charge which she denies, whilst others have welcomed her recognition that Enfield is a multi-religious borough in which no one religion should claim precedence. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 6]

Tibb: holistic healthcare

The Muslim weekly Q News (24.06.94) featured a full-page profile of Muhammad Salim Khan, the director of the Mohsin Clinic and the Mohsin Institute in Leicester where he practices the holistic form of medicine widely used throughout the Muslim world known as tibb. Tibb is an understanding of health which originated in the Middle East and drew on elements from Egypt, India, China and classical Greece. It was widely practised through the centuries by such great philosopher physicians as Ibn Sina. Today it is used throughout the subcontinent as well as in Afghanistan, Malaysia and parts of the Middle East. As with all holistic systems, it regards the human being as a whole entity and seeks to address the underlying imbalances which show themselves as illness. Mr Khan stressed the importance of tibb in the developing world, where it could bring an affordable system of health care to millions, and in the developed world, where there are many illnesses which are related to contemporary styles of living. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 6/7]

Pakistani Christian claims asylum

A Pakistani Christian who fled from his homeland in 1992 and came to Britain with his family has claimed that he will be persecuted and perhaps killed if he is deported back to Pakistan. Asif Das was a teacher of English literature in Lahore where he was criticised for failing to condemn certain overtly religious passages from English poets. Things really came to a head when "One day I was at an Islamic students' group meeting and they asked me why the Bible had ignored the prophet Mohammed. I said that Jesus had said that anyone who came after him would be a robber and immediately the students tried to grab hold of me, presumably to lynch me. I was only saved by the quick actions of a couple of colleagues who pulled me out of the classroom" (Slough & Langley Observer 17.06.94). After this the students made death threats against Mr Das and he and some colleagues were officially charged with blasphemy which carries the death penalty in Pakistan. When Mr Das and his family arrived in Britain they did not ask for asylum for fear of being sent back to Pakistan but he did apply in April of this year. His application was denied by the government as there was insufficient reason to believe that his life is in danger. He is now appealing and his appeal is being backed by Slough Methodists who want him to be allowed to remain here whilst they fund his training to become a Methodist minister. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 7]

Preston advice centre

A new advice centre, the Preston Muslim Forum, has been opened with help from a local training agency, the council and businesses. It will aim to promote training and career development for the unemployed and school leavers as well as running its own courses and acting as a general community advice centre. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 7]

Roots of anti-Muslim racism

Comments by Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan at the launch of the Declaration on International Business Ethics (see BMMS for May 1994) about hatred of Jews and Muslims having similar roots in crass stereotypes have been taken up at a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Council Against Anti-Semitism. They are considering a suggestion made by the Prince that a similar body should be set up to fight discrimination against Muslims. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 7]

Muslim graves vandalised

Ten headstones on Muslim graves in Burton on Trent have been vandalised. Police are treating the matter as a simple vandal attack probably by children but some members of the local Muslim community fear that racist elements might be targeting minorities in the town. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 7]

Burial without coffins

The London Borough of Hillingdon has given permission for burials to take place without a coffin in their municipal cemeteries. They have also decided to waive the additional fee commonly charged to those who wish to bury people in the borough's cemeteries who did not reside in the area. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8]

Relief work for Bosnia

Liverpool Muslims collected 23 tonnes of food aid to be shipped to Bosnia in partnership with the Manchester branch of the charity Human Appeal International. The Leicester-based charity Muslim Hands received a cheque for 641.15 from pupils at Beardwood High School, Blackburn, to be used to provide relief for Bosnian refugees and victims of the floods in Pakistan. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8]

Newport Muslims seek funds

The managing committees of the Jamia Mosque and the Al Noor Mosque in Newport are joining forces to seek funding from the Welsh Office, Newport Borough Council and Gwent County Council to assist them in building an Islamic Gwent Welfare Centre next to the Jamia Mosque in the town centre. They hope that the centre will enable them to provide a range of services especially to the youth and women in their communities. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8]

Graves misaligned

A section of Nottingham's Southern Cemetery was set aside for Muslim burials in the 1950's. At that time the council was given erroneous advice about the alignment of the bodies according to Muslim practice. The result was that 200 bodies have been buried there at the wrong angle. The mistake was discovered when an imam visited the cemetery. The council has admitted the mistake and apologised to the Muslim community. It has been decided not to disturb the existing graves but to ensure that all future burials conform to the correct alignment. This will result in a loss of 25 grave spaces in the cemetery and thus cost the council 7,000 in lost revenue. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8]

Alcohol abuse in Nottingham

Concern has been expressed in Nottingham about the level of alcohol abuse amongst people from Asian families. The issue was first highlighted by Councillor Mohammed Aslam, who claimed that alcohol-related problems were proportionally higher amongst the community of Asian heritage than amongst white people. This has been supported by anecdotal evidence from local hospitals and by the Alcohol Problems Advisory Service (Nottingham Evening Post 24.06.94). The latter group has appointed a field worker from the Asian community to assess the extent of the problem and devise appropriate strategies for offering assistance. Particular attention has been drawn to the role of the community in cases of alcohol abuse. There is often a fear of disapproval from the community which causes people to drink in secret and to be reluctant to seek help. Often it is the wife of a man with a problem who contacts the advisory service. To facilitate easier access to its services, the APAS is running counselling sessions in health and community centres as well as places of worship. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8]

Pakistani Mormon for Britain

A 28 year-old Pakistani who was brought up as a Christian in Lahore before leaving the church to join the Mormons has been invited to Britain to seek converts for Mormonism here. Elder Gill, who speaks several subcontinent languages as well as Arabic and English, will be preaching in Northampton. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 8/9]

Three years for Bolton TEC

The Bolton Bury Training and Enterprise Council has celebrated three years of successful work in serving the local people of the area. It works in close liaison with local Muslim leaders and specialises in promoting training courses for school leavers and the unemployed, developing links with schools through work experience and "teachers into industry" placements and in helping new businesses to be launched. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

Racial liaison group formed, Blackpool

Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Arab leaders have been instrumental in forming the first Ethnic Minorities Liaison Group in Blackpool in an effort to stem any racial tensions before they get out of hand. One problem area has been racial taunts at football matches but the group hopes to work with council officials and the police to maintain the good inter-racial relations which have hitherto existed in the town. The chairman of the Blackpool Mosque committee, a local surgeon, has been appointed vice-chairman of the group. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

City Challenge programme, Bolton

The City Challenge programme in Bolton was responsible for channelling 7.5m from public and private sources into a total of 50 projects in the city dealing in areas such as training, housing, youth work, health projects and improving their environment and community. All this was in their first year of existence. They are now seeking more city-based groups to join in their programmes and particularly seek the co-operation of Muslim and Hindu groups who together make up 20% of the local population. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

Ashura processions

Processions to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain on the day of Ashura 680 CE were held in Peterborough and Birmingham with several hundred Muslims taking part in each. The start of the new year in the Muslim calendar (1415) was marked with an interview with a Muslim leader in Stoke on Trent. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

Conference on Muslim refugees

A conference on Muslim refugees was held at the Islamic Foundation conference centre at Markfield, Leicester, on 25/26th June. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

Eid ul-Adha concert

The North Staffs Bangladeshi Youth Association staged a concert to celebrate Eid ul-Adha in Stoke on Trent on 19th June. It centred on a visit by Fakir Alamgia, a popular folk singer from Bangladesh who is currently touring Britain and was held in the presence of the Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh. The free concert included other items from local children and was intended to draw different elements of the local community together. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9]

Sheffield twinned with Kotli

The city of Sheffield has set up a new twinning agreement with Kotli in Azad Kashmir. The largest single minority group in Sheffield is of Pakistani and Kashmiri origin and the majority of these are from the Kotli district. Visits by civic leaders, business people and officials have taken place in both directions and it is hoped that a close working relationship can be set up to exchange information and skills in health, education, pollution, waste disposal and forestry matters. Issues such as the image of Pakistan as a drug smuggling centre and the situation of Pakistani nationals in other countries were discussed. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 9/10]

World population explosion

About 200 young people from 20 countries attended a six-day "mini earth summit" under the heading "Caretakers of the Environment" in Aberdeen in mid-June (The Aberdeen Press and Journal 15.06.94). They heard Jonathan Porritt, the former director of Friends of the Earth, call for a major re-think on the use of contraception by Muslim and Catholic religious leaders. He said, "I do not think Catholic and Islamic Fundamentalist leaders realise the implications of their conservative stance on contraception. The population is going to double within the next 30 years if they do not change their attitudes." [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 10]

100th home in Oldham

The Oldham Muslim Housing Association, which was formed in 1990 to serve local housing needs with an emphasis on the minority communities, celebrated the completion of its 100th home in June. It is currently engaged in a 41-unit development which is being funded by local and central government. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 10]

 

Glasgow's Muslim jubilee

A week-long festival to celebrate 50 years of Muslim life in Glasgow was organised and partially funded to the tune of 9,000 by the city council. Children from local schools are joining together to celebrate the richness of the cultural diversity of the city and special events are being planned for the elderly, children with special needs and women. A series of seminars will be staged and there will be civic receptions provided by both Glasgow District Council and Strathclyde Regional Council. The total cost of the celebrations is estimated to be 30,000 and Strathclyde Regional Council has agreed to provide 15,000 in addition to that given by the city council, with the deficit being underwritten by leading figures from the city's Muslim community. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 10]

 

Leading groups on hajj

The organiser of Haj and Umra Tours, Muhammed Saeed Sheikh, was profiled in Q News (10.06.94). Sheikh is a travel agent who specialises in organising, leading and preparing people for making hajj and umra [the short pilgrimage to Mecca which can be made at any time of the year]. He spoke about the difficulties which pilgrims face and the crises which organisers must be ready to deal with. He had several suggestions for ways in which the overall organisation could be improved including the issue of computerised ID cards for all visitors which would enable them to be identified should any mishap befall them. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 10]

 

"Health awareness days"

Two "health awareness days" have been planned by health officials in Preston aimed specifically at the community of Asian heritage who, it is feared, feel cut off from much of the health service's provision. The days will be staged in a Gujarati welfare centre and will include 22 stands on a wide variety of health-related topics. There will be women-only sessions and translators will be available for these in particular. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 10]

 

Bosnia: interfaith hopes shattered

Dr Mustafa Ceric, the leading Muslim scholar in Bosnia, visited London at the invitation of the Muslim Parliament to address its assembly in May and then met with church leaders to discuss the situation in Bosnia. It was clear from the report in the Muslim News (27.05.94), under the headline "Death knell to interfaith dialogue", that the failure of the churches to take a more positive stand in support of Muslims in Bosnia and against the aggression of the Orthodox Serbs had caused Dr Ceric to loose a great deal of his faith in the openness and potential of dialogue with Christians. He made it clear that he was not blaming Christianity as such, he supported his comments by Qur'anic references, but rather those Christian leaders who have failed to condemn atrocities against Muslims and have failed to campaign for the arms embargo to be lifted so that they could defend themselves. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 11]

 

Rise in racial attacks

The publication of statistics of racial attacks in Nottingham, which rose by 30% in the first four months of 1994 (from 59 in the same period of 1993 to 80 in 1994), caused the chairman of the Afro-Caribbean and Asian Forum, Gulzar Khan, to call for the criminalisation of racial harassment and for police to use current legislation under the Public Order Act to deal more rigorously with threats of racial violence.

Muslim leaders in Bury had a meeting with senior police officers after a reported rise in the number of racially motivated attacks in the area. The police urged the Muslim leaders to report all incidents which they undertook to have investigated. A meeting has been called for between the Muslim leaders and the police divisional commander.

There were 200 complaints of racial abuse made by the 50,000-strong population of Pakistani origin in Greater Manchester in 1993. The total number of race attacks in the area rose by 42% in 1993 according to police figures. Reports of racial incidents in the Oldham area were particularly high. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 11]

 

Meals-on-wheels, Birmingham

Birmingham City Council has invested a total of 60,000 in providing Asian food for a meals-on-wheels service for the elderly within the city. The money will pay for an upgrading of kitchens, a car for the deliveries and staff. Pensioners will have to pay 1.45 for each meal which will contain halal meat prepared in traditional dishes. There has been a certain amount of comment that other elderly people have to have re-heated food from the meals-on-wheels service but the scheme has been defended on the grounds that "reheated curry doesn't taste the same" and "Elderly people from Asia may find it hard to adapt to English food" (Sun 18.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 11]

 

Soccer: a force for integration

The role of soccer as a force for integration within society was exemplified in a profile of local sporting teams, including Muslim and Jewish teams, in the various Manchester leagues by the Manchester Evening News Magazine (15.06.94). A local Muslim team, sponsored by a firm of solicitors, featured heavily in the profile which discussed the ways in which they had overcome racial bias in their experience of league football. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 11]

 

Muslim boxing champion

"Prince Naseem Hamed", the 20 year-old Sheffield boxer of Yemeni origin who has become European bantamweight champion, has attributed his success in the ring to his Muslim faith and the gift of God. He avoids all aspects of the high-life which are haram [forbidden] and recites from the Qur'an in his dressing room before each fight. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 11/12]

 

Conference on "fundamentalism"

The South London Interfaith Group organised a day conference on 4th June at the Ahl Al Bait Islamic Centre to discuss the implications of "fundamentalism" within various religions and its impact on interfaith activity. The conference was attended by about 80 people from Sikh, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Christian traditions. Each explored the meaning and context of fundamentalism within their tradition (Q News 10.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Helping to have a healthy baby

The Health Promotion Research Trust has produced a leaflet in English and Urdu explaining the increased health risks involved for children from couples who are cousins. The leaflet Helping to have a healthy baby explains the way in which faulty genes are passed from seemingly healthy parents to potentially sick children. There is a 2-3% incidence of genetic problems amongst all couples but this increases to around 6% when the parents are first cousins. If parents and/or grandparents are also close relatives this risk can increase to around 10%. The leaflets are available free of charge from the Trust at 49-53 Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1AB. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Race, migration and the elderly

The University of Central Lancashire has published a report and recommendations from an international conference in Preston held in September 1993 on Race, Migration and Older People in Europe. It details the lack of social care for older people in ethnic minority communities throughout the EU and calls for fair citizenship laws, anti-discrimination legislation and equal access to public services. There were a total of 30 recommendations calling for more research and covering such diverse areas as housing, health, education, social services and benefits as well as addressing racism, immigration and citizenship and the required legislation. Copies of the report are available from the University of Central Lancashire, Life Long Learning Department, Preston, PR1 2HE priced 18.50 including postage. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Apologies for hajj slur

The editor of the London-based Gujarati weekly Gujarat Samachar has apologised for the offence which an article in his journal published on 27th May caused to Muslims. The article reported on the deaths at Mina during the hajj. The report was translated from an Indian Press Trust report of the tragedy, however, in translation the Gujarati report said that the pilgrims had died whilst worshipping "the Holy Stone goddess" instead of stoning the pillars at Mina. The editor totally rebutted any suggestion that the mistaken report was an attempt to stir up Hindu-Muslim sectarian disturbances. He pointed out that his journal had been strongly attacked by Hindus for its forthright condemnation of the Hindu attack on the Babri mosque. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Discussion on ecology

A Muslim-Christian discussion was held in Sheffield on 12th June which took as its theme "Challenges on Ecology". [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Training women for the job market

A European Union grant of 22,840 has enabled a project to be developed in Halifax to equip a bus as a mobile unit providing employment advice and training for women from Asian families who wish to enter the job market. The project, called Calderdale Stepping Stones, will include a creche facility so that women with young children can avail of the service which will receive partial funding, to the order of 29,000, from the Calderdale Council. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 12/13]

 

Muslim PC attacked

A former captain in the Pakistani Army who is now a police constable in Southport, Lancashire, was the victim of a racially motivated attack which left him semi-conscious and needing thirteen stitches in a head wound from which he had lost three pints of blood. PC Ijaz Ahmed had arrested a man who was drunk and disorderly when he was set upon by a gang of men who were shouting racist abuse. A passer-by went to the policeman's assistance and detained one of the attackers but the others escaped before a police back-up team could arrive at the scene. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 13]

 

Liverpool: Bishop visits mosque

Bishop David Sheppard of Liverpool became the first senior Anglican clergyman to enter the only mosque in the city in its 25 year history. It was a private visit but full of symbolism as the bishop sought to reinforce links of religious solidarity with the city's Muslims. He told a local reporter, "I welcome this opportunity to visit the mosque in Liverpool where we enjoy a relationship of mutual respect between Christians and Muslims and I am glad of the opportunity of understanding more deeply the pilgrimage of people who come to God by another faith" (Liverpool Daily Post 23.06.94). He spoke to a gathering of people in the mosque which included Muslims from the Yemen, Somalia, Bosnia, Pakistan and the West Indies and told them, "We share so much in common history, faith and loving yet there is so much bitter division in the world where religion is said to be the problem. It should be the solution" (Liverpool Daily Post 24.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 13]

 

Drugs abuse in Bradford

In the aftermath of the BBC TV documentary on drug abuse amongst Muslim youth, Muslim leaders in Bradford have been speaking openly about the extent of the problem. Ramet Khan, secretary of the Jamia Mosque in Bradford, admitted that there was growing concern amongst the Muslim community about drug abuse. He said, "At present, with high unemployment, some of the youngsters are turning to drugs as a way out of the financial turmoil which they face" (Q News 03.06.94). Workers at Bradford's drug counselling scheme, the Bridge Project, say that they have witnessed a ten-fold increase in Asian and Muslim clients over the past three years. The project manager said, "People misuse drugs for a variety of reasons including depression, poverty, social economical, psychological and sociological problems. Asian people as well as the rest of British society share these problems so the myth that Asians are not associated with drugs should be disposed of". Social workers in other parts of the country confirmed that this is not just an isolated incidence and called for the Muslim community to be aware of the extent of the problem and the need for community support for those involved. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 13]

 

New director for Muslim Aid

The charity Muslim Aid is seeking to appoint a new director for its head office. The charity was established in 1985 and works in more than twenty countries. It is seeking a computer literate, multi-lingual person with management and accountancy skills to co-ordinate activities and plan future development. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 13/14]

 

Christian mission is valid

Extracts from a sermon given by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Montreal were published in the Daily Telegraph (21.06.94). Dr Carey was attending a theological conference at which he attacked "liberal Christians" who held that Christianity was just one amongst a number of equally valid faiths. He affirmed his evangelical roots by asserting the right of Christianity "to challenge Islam or any other religion" and by upholding the "singularity of Jesus Christ". The theological background to this situation was sketched in an editorial in Q News (24.06.94) which highlighted some "liberal" trends in contemporary Christian theology which see Christianity as one path amongst many which all lead to the one divinity and which seek to interpret Christian doctrines such as the trinity and the incarnation as being open to "mythical" or "poetic" interpretations. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 14]

 

Deterring criminals

A Church of England priest in Telford has called for criminals to have their hands chopped off as a deterrent to others. The suggestion was made by the Revd. Kevin McGarahan after his church centre was vandalised. He said that he felt the need for a sense of the "wrath of God" to be restored to public life. Mr McGarahan claims to have conceived of the idea whilst watching Saudi Arabia play football in the World Cup. He worked on the principle that if such punishments work there then maybe we should consider them in Britain. A spokesman for the Church of England distanced the official body from the views expressed and indicated that they may have been provoked by the suffering which had been caused by the vandals' attack. However, the fact that the punishments currently at the disposal of the judiciary are being mocked as ineffective by criminals was confirmed by Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid who has been a magistrate in Brighton for five years. He called for politicians to address the fundamental causes of lawlessness in society such as social deprivation and a lack of moral values permeating the education system. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 14]

 

Conference on Islamic banking

Leading figures from around the world converged on London on 24th May for a day conference on Islamic banking organised by the London-based Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance. The conference explored the ways in which Islamic impulses set the value structure within which banking and accountancy systems operate. The advances which had been made in Islamic economics and banking procedures over the last two decades were stressed and examples were given from a variety of Arab countries as well as Iran, Malaysia and the Sudan. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 14]

 

Astronomy and the lunar month

Zafar Iqbal, a member of the British Astronomical Association, contributed a detailed article on the use of astronomical data in ascertaining the beginning of the lunar month for the Muslim News (27.05.94). He described the variety of methods based on sightings or a combination of some astronomical data with sightings which are currently used and the confusion which such methods habitually produce. He argued that "the only method which is both reliable and universally applicable is to use the new moon [based on the astronomical conjunction] as the reference basis and nothing else". This would have the benefit of being both in harmony with Islamic principles and totally predictable which would give uniformity of dating and the ability to declare Eids in advance so that time off from work and school could be established. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 14/15]

 

Pakistani bishop for Rochester

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali has been named as the next Bishop of Rochester and will become the first diocesan bishop in the Church of England to come from a minority community. There has been an Afro-Caribbean suffragan [assistant] bishop in Croydon since 1985, but Dr Nazir-Ali will be the first bishop appointed to take charge of a diocese. He holds both British and Pakistani nationality and was educated at the universities of Karachi and Cambridge. He was first appointed bishop in Pakistan and, at the age of 34, was the youngest Anglican bishop in the world. In 1986 he was appointed a special adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury and in 1989 became general secretary of the Church Missionary Society. He has published three books and numerous articles on the subject of Christian-Muslim relations to which he believes that Christians who have lived in Muslim countries can bring a special understanding, respect and dialogue. He has also been responsible for a scheme to bring missionaries from developing countries to preach Christianity in Britain. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 15]

 

Decline in Islamic Party

According to a report in the Financial Times (10.06.94), "The Islamic Party of Great Britain seems to be rather less of a threat to the established parties than once seemed likely". It noted that the party had intended to put up candidates in three European parliamentary constituencies but it had to drop out through lack of resources. It intended to focus its efforts on the Bradford South Westminster bye-election, where it won 0.3% of the vote in the 1992 general election, but it was unable to field a candidate there either. "So far, the party's best performance was 4.8% of the vote in a Rotherham local election." [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 15]

 

Gift for MS appeal

Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association in Bradford were the first organisation to contribute to the Lord Mayor's appeal for multiple sclerosis when they presented him with a cheque for 500 when he attended their Eid celebrations. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 15]

 

Promoting good race relations

The Blackpool Moslem Community organised a dinner for police, council officers and community leaders to help in building good race relations in the town. The president of the Moslem Community said, "We want to make sure what is happening in some of Britain's inner city areas does not happen in Blackpool. We want to talk to people before the problems start" (Blackpool Evening Gazette 04.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 15]

 

Lecture: "Islam and the West"

Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani gave The Continuing Professional Development Foundation's Annual Estates Gazette Special Lecture entitled "Islam and the West" at The Royal Institution of Great Britain on 6th June. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 15]

 

Leicester exhibition on Islam

A week-long exhibition was mounted in the Charnwood Health Centre, Leicester, aimed at raising awareness of the different Muslim communities within the city. Information was available about the central beliefs of Islam and various aspects of births, deaths and marriages were portrayed. A representative of the Islamic Foundation was on hand to answer questions. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Jewish/Muslim relations

According to a report in Q News (24.06.94), "The third annual report of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, published this week, claims that the Jewish community is "alarmed" at the "increasing tension between Jewish students and Muslim fundamentalists" in British universities". [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Muslim woman for mayor

Waltham Forest has elected its first Muslim woman ever as Mayor. She is Meher Khan and she won the nomination in competition with candidates proposed by the other parties. It was noted that she had met with considerable opposition from Muslim men in her public life but had responded to them with great dignity. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Rates bill waived

East Staffordshire Council sent a back-dated rates bill to the Burton Muslim Mosque Committee for rates outstanding from April 1990. The rates demand related to a former shop which the Committee had purchased with a view to using it as a mosque and community centre. The Committee applied for a 100% rates rebate as a charity for 1993 and 1994 but the council was unaware of the change of use during the period from 1990 to 1993. In the circumstances, the council agreed to waive the demand and write off the debt. It was acknowledged that it would have caused the mosque considerable hardship to raise the money for the rates bill. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Money raised for hospitals

The Crawley Islamic Centre and Mosque raised a total of 725 for the local hospital's Scanner Appeal. A Muslim man in Luton was so impressed with the care which his wife received in the local hospital's coronary care unit that he set about raising funds from local people to support its work. A total of 2,035 was raised. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Patients' needs in hospital

The Chief Executive of the East Anglia Regional Health Authority has called for more attention to be paid to the needs of patients from the minority communities. In particular, she called for more interpreters, better communications on health matters through community languages and more attention to be paid to dietary and religious needs. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16]

 

Luton: "no confidence" vote

There has been a vote of no confidence passed in the mosque management committee at the Bury Park Mosque in Luton. This followed a petition signed by 500 local people. A temporary management committee was elected to run the mosque for eight weeks until a new committee can be formally elected with the help of outside observers. The protesters objected to the way in which the former imam, Mufti Abdul Hannan, had been dismissed and they wanted to know why the mosque was in debt and why extension work had not been carried out. The mosque is reported to be 26,000 in debt with a further 150,000 needed to complete the extension work. There were further disturbances in the mosque on Friday 24th June when police were called. There were unconfirmed rumours of a stabbing in the mosque but police found no evidence of this. The road was sealed off and police were stationed outside the mosque for some time. It is reported that a police radio was stolen during the incident. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 16/17]

 

Muslim Women's Helpline

The Wembley-based Muslim Women's Helpline has celebrated five years of its existence. During this time it has been supported by donations from people who value the work which it does. This has led to a somewhat precarious existence which does not look like getting better in the immediate future unless more regular financial support can be found. The helpline was set up by Muslim women as "a confidential friend in need" to those who call in. Callers cover an extremely wide range of people who present the helpline's staff with issues such as marital difficulties, sexual abuse, generational misunderstanding, unwanted pregnancy, discrimination at work and general need for community support. The Muslim Women's Helpline is constantly in need of financial support and can be contacted on 081-908-3205. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 17]

 

Shorter fire fighters sought

The Chief Fire Officer of Bedfordshire has called for the abolition of minimum height requirements for fire fighters. By so doing he hopes to attract more women and men from minority communities to enter the fire service. The minimum height requirement has been dropped for the police and prison services but it is estimated to be a bar to around 90% of women and a significant number of men from Asian families who want to enter the fire service. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 17]

 

Cancer hospitals twinned

A special twinning agreement has been entered into by Christie Hospital in Manchester, one of the most prestigious cancer research hospitals in the world, and the cancer hospital in Lahore, Pakistan, set up by the cricketer, Imran Khan. There will be an exchange of staff at medical, scientific and nursing levels so that Lahore staff can benefit from the experience of working with techniques which Christie staff will help them to introduce in Lahore. Imran Khan has so far raised a total of $13m towards the target of $18m needed to establish the hospital and research centre which will be the first of its kind in Pakistan. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 17]

 

Improved maternity care

A new code of practice has been issued by the CRE with full support from the government and NHS Ethnic Minority Unit, which lays down guidelines for improving the quality of maternity care for women from the minority communities. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 17]

 

Halal meat controls

Moves to tighten the regulation of the provision of halal meat (see BMMS for March, April and May 1994) have had a significant impact with the Halal Food Company of Birmingham, which is regulated by its own inspectors not by the Muslim Parliament's Halal Food Authority, reporting a 40% rise in demand over the last six months (Asian Age 07.06.94). The Halal Food Authority itself has now moved into the supply of specially tagged meat in about 50 outlets in London and a few in the North and Midlands. Each sheep carcass will be identified by seven metal and plastic tags in the various parts which normally go to make the most popular cuts. Each poultry carcass will be tagged under each wing. Carcasses will also be marked with edible ink markings in regulated patterns. The HFA has signed contracts with two red meat abattoirs and one poultry abattoir, with twenty retailers so far under contract and a further thirty under negotiation (Muslim News 24.06.94). The assurance of the meat being halal will add about 8p per pound to meat and 15p per bird to poultry (Walsall Express and Star 24.06.94). One factor in the confusion over halal meat was highlighted by Q News (17.06.94) which reported that "The Arabs have traditionally taken the view that the meat killed by Jews and Christians is halal in conditions when dibha [halal slaughter] is not available". This meant that the real pressure for halal meat killed by Muslims only became pronounced when large-scale immigration from the subcontinent became a factor in Britain. Kosher meat provided under the supervision of the Jewish Schakita Board is still considered to be halal for Muslims but there remains a question mark over pre-stunning and the Christian credentials of the large scale slaughterhouses in Britain. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 17/18]

 

Corner shop survey

Two academics from the Social Science School of the John Moores University, Liverpool, have conducted a study of the owners of the 60,000 corner shops in Britain, many of which are owned by families of Asian origin. They concluded that the image of such shop-keepers as mini-millionaires is misleading. "The fact is that Asians are fast becoming dissatisfied with their lot... Small-scale retailing demands long and anti-social hours of work for the owner, and often substantial unpaid assistance from the family. The financial rewards are generally small and unreliable" (Q News 10.06.94). They found that one in five corner shop workers possessed a university degree and there was a general feeling amongst themselves that they could do much better. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 18]

 

New book from women's perspectives

The publication of a new book on the situation of women throughout the Muslim world occasioned notice from the monthly magazine Elle (July 94). Jan Goodwin, a journalist, British by origin but now living in the USA, undertook travel to ten different countries to research her book: Price of honour: Muslim women lift the veil of silence on the Islamic world, (published by Little, Brown at 18.99). It contains much anecdotal evidence of the situation of Muslim women and some analysis of the role of women in Islam as described by the Qur'an and the practices of Muhammad. The Elle article gave a precis of the stories of a couple of women who had converted to Islam from British or American backgrounds and noted the rise in women converts in the West. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 18]

 

Halal pizza and chips

The future of halal meals in Staffordshire schools is in doubt after a six-month experiment in three schools resulted in a lack of demand for the meals provided by Muslim pupils who preferred to eat pizza and chips instead (Wolverhampton Express and Star 09.06.94). Staffordshire officials are to persevere with the provision for the time being but are introducing a wider selection of vegetarian meals in an effort to capture the pupil market. Commenting on the same incident, the Muslim weekly Q News (24.06.94) asked why halal food had to equal "Asian food"? Why could the pizzas favoured by the children not be made with halal ingredients and thus a valuable lesson could be learnt that there is no such thing as Islamic cultural food but that the food of any culture could be prepared in a way which is Islamically permitted. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 18/19]

 

Muslim women at work

The School of Education in the University of Nottingham has been awarded substantial funding for a three-year research project due to begin in 1995/6 which will explore the status of Muslim women in the labour force. It will also analyse the role which education and the careers service plays in encouraging or discouraging women from certain career paths. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 19]

 

Private mass slaughter for Eid

There was consternation on a farm near Leighton Buzzard at the end of May when a local sheep farmer sold around 300 sheep to local Muslims who then proceeded to kill them on the farm and take the carcasses away for their own Eid celebrations. It is estimated that about 1,000 people were present and the killing area was said to be "a foot deep in dirt and straw and the blood had soaked into that" (Leighton Buzzard Observer 31.05.94). The law permits people to kill their own animals for their own personal consumption provided that the animals do not suffer. This law normally applies to a farmer killing an animal for his own family but the mass slaughter here was quite legal.

A Ministry of Agriculture vet and a local Environmental Health Officer visited the site in response to a "tip off" but arrived after the killing had been completed. There is no suggestion that the animals suffered but there was concern that the conditions were far from hygienic for such a mass slaughter. The Environmental Health Officer said, "Our concern is for the welfare of these animals and for the health of the people eating this meat. None of the slaughterhouse regulations applied to ensure that only healthy animals were killed, that where they were killed was hygienic, that the meat was fit to eat and was transported under clean conditions... Carcasses were being carried away in black dustbin bags and thrown into the boots of cars. Some people were taking the entrails away in buckets... I would urge the government to change the law to ensure that all such mass killing is done safely and humanely". [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 19]

 

BBC seeks to equalise opportunities

The BBC has recognised that people from ethnic minority communities are under-represented in its regional news service. To counter this, it has been decided to accept applications for the BBC Regional News Training Scheme from members of minority communities only in six out of its thirteen regions this year. There are normally thousands of applications for the scheme which has only thirteen places available nationally. The BBC has denied that this policy is biased but rather it thinks of it as redressing an existing shortage and fulfilling its obligations as an equal opportunities employer.

The BBC has also been the subject of a complaint from the "Freedom Association" to the CRE over an advertisement in a national newspaper for members of the ethnic minority communities to apply for two one-year traineeships to become TV or radio producers. The BBC defended its actions on the basis that there are currently no producers in the BBC Education Directorate from the minority communities and it wished to maintain its position as an equal opportunities employer. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 19]

 

The unemployment trap

A study commissioned by the East Lancashire Training and Enterprise Council has reported that local people from Asian families who are unemployed on a long-term basis are suffering from multiple discrimination which prohibits their breaking out of the joblessness trap and thus making a full contribution to the economy of the area. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 20]

 

School meals dispute settled

The provision of halal meat for Blackburn schools has been safeguarded after a dispute between rival caterers. The two catering companies involved were Bradford Metro Catering Department and BET Catering. BET Catering won the contract and then sought to purchase halal meat from the Bradford Metro Catering Department. The Bradford concern at first refused to supply the meat to their rivals but eventually agreed to do so after the intervention of the Blackburn Racial Equality Council and Councillor Muhammad Ajeeb, the deputy leader of Bradford City Council. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 20]

 

Worldwide Muslim meeting, Dewsbury

Muslims from many countries around the world gathered in Dewsbury on 25/26th June for the World Ijtimaa (assembly) of the Tablighi Jamaat organisation. The Tablighi Jamaat is an organisation devoted to calling Muslims to spiritual revival so that they can live a more Islamic way of life. Groups of members tour Britain and other countries, going from mosque to mosque encouraging people to study and consider their following of Islamic principles. In all 375 of these groups set out to various countries from the assembly. The numbers attending far exceeding the planners expectations and have been estimated at between 50,000 and 70,000. This makes it the biggest meeting of Muslims ever held in Britain. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 20]

 

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Updates

Education

School assemblies, Birmingham

An agreement has been reached between parents and the headteacher at the Canterbury Cross primary school in Perry Barr, Birmingham, to permit the Muslim children in the school, who amount to close on 80% of the total, to attend Islamic acts of collective worship instead of the mainly Christian worship which has been on offer hithertofore. There will still be a whole school assembly on two days per week but worship will be conducted according to the religious disposition of the parents on the other days (Muslim News 24.06.94). This is the result of concerted effort by local Muslim parents in Canterbury Cross and Birchfield schools in the area (see BMMS for January, March and May 1994). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 20]

 

Bradford Muslim Girls' School

A meeting was held on 20th June between the chairman of the Muslim Association, which runs the Bradford Muslim Girls' School, and officials at the Department for Education to discuss the application by the school for voluntary aided status (see BMMS for October 1993, January, February, March and May 1994). The chairman was reported to be "optimistic" after the meeting. It normally takes several months to process an application but the governors are hoping that they will receive V.A. status by September. The application was criticised by Jahangir Mohammed, the deputy leader of the Muslim Parliament, in comments made to The Times (13.06.94). He said, "We have an urgent problem which is the under-education of Muslims and their identity. We need to deal with that now, not to wait for years of haggling with John Patten to produce a handful of state-funded schools". The remainder of the article gave a positive appraisal of the work being done in the school. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 20/21]

 

Research in learning disabilities

Hester Adrian Research Centre in the University of Manchester is to run a research project on how people from Asian families who have learning disabilities and their carers gain access to the appropriate local authority services. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21]

 

A Muslim school for Gloucester?

The announcement by the Secretary of State for Education that the rules governing the setting up of new Grant Maintained schools are to be altered so that the existence of surplus places in local maintained schools is no longer an absolute impediment has been welcomed by Muslim Welfare Association leaders in Gloucester who hope that it will make it easier for them to obtain funding for a girls' school which they hope to set up in the city. The association bought a redundant school site from the county council in 1986 and have spent 150,000 renovating it. The opening of the school has been delayed through lack of funds but it might possibly open in September with 25 to 30 pupils. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21]

 

Intensive course in Arabic teaching methodology

The Qur'anic Arabic Foundation, Birmingham, has arranged an intensive five-day course for community teachers to introduce improved methods for the teaching of Arabic script, Qur'anic Arabic and the science of recitation of the Qur'an. The heavily subsidised course will be directed by Dr M. Ibrahim Surty of CSIC. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21]

 

Sex Education

In the light of new legislation which will make Sex Education a compulsory subject in all maintained secondary schools from September of this year, the Muslim weekly Q News devoted a double-page spread to the issues involved (17.06.94). It set out the Islamic viewpoint on sex education with quotations from the Qur'an and hadiths. It is clear that sex is part of marital relationships and as such Islam has importance guidance to give on the subject. Muslims were advised not to shrink away from the issues involved but to get involved in the development of sex education programmes. The vital importance of rooting all sex education within the human values set out by the Qur'an was explained which means that children are taught about the importance of marriage, relationships, continence and the avoidance of casual or extra-marital sexual relationships.

The responsibility for drawing up a Sex Education policy for every school rests with the governors. It is up to the governors to decide what will be taught in each primary school although the government has laid down certain elements which must be included in secondary schools. This makes it important for Muslim parents to get involved in the process either as governors themselves or through the elected parent governors. Finally, from September '94, parents will have an absolute right in law to withdraw their children from all or part of the school's Sex Education programme with the single exception of those biological aspects of anatomy and reproduction which form part of the National Curriculum. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21]

 

Weekend school for York

Planning permission has been given for the conversion of a boarded-up shop in the Parade in the centre of York into a weekend school for Muslims to run classes for children from 5 to 12 in Islamic subjects. The 1,000-strong Muslim community in the city are reported to be delighted with the new provision. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 21]

 

School policy on racist behaviour

The Buttershaw Upper School in Bradford has drawn up and made public a new policy document on combatting racist behaviour and language within the school whether it be in the classroom or the playground. The headteacher said that he had decided to "go public" on the issue as all too often people pretended that racism does not exist in schools. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22]

 

Complaints about GCSE English question

Teachers, parents and pupils at the Moat Community College in Leicester have lodged a complaint with the GCSE Midlands Examining Group after a question on the English paper referred to Christmas, pets in the home and showed a picture of Vietnamese pot bellied pigs and asked pupils to write an essay about it. This was regarded as being culturally and religiously insensitive to Muslim pupils who do not celebrate Christmas, shun pets in the house and regard pigs as unclean animals. The MEG has so far declined to comment on the question but the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority has announced that it will investigate the issue (Daily Mail 17.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22]

 

Schools' inability to deliver on collective worship

A poll was conducted amongst 2,300 headteachers into their ability to deliver daily collective worship in schools in accordance with current legislation. It showed that 87% of secondary heads and 65% of primary heads felt that they could not comply with the legal requirements (Muslim News 24.06.94). The Secretary of State for Education advised the annual conference of the National Association of Head Teachers to apply to their local SACREs for assistance if they experienced difficulty but he upheld the requirement to comply with the law. A member of the Association's executive said, "The feeling is extremely strong. They are making us moral guardians of the nation. You can't have an act of worship when none of the staff will attend. You can't have an act of worship when half the school is Muslim or something else. The law is being flouted. We are living a lie and the nation is living a lie" (Q News 03.06.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22]

 

Shortage of minority teachers in Liverpool

A survey has been conducted by the Race Equality Management Team in Liverpool which shows that although about 10% of the city's population originates from minority communities only 30 of the city's 4,500 teachers come from such communities and only 27 out of 3,000 governors in the city are from minority groups. Plans are being discussed to engage overseas teachers for service in the city to combat racism. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22]

 

Age limit on Islamic school

When the Dar ul-Uloom boys' boarding school in Chislehurst received planning permission to move into a former school in the town last year it was on the understanding that the age limit for students would be 17. The school applied to the council for permission to raise this age limit to 24 but permission was refused on the grounds that older students would drive cars and thus cause traffic problems. This was in spite of an undertaking by the school authorities that no student at the school would be allowed to have a car during their time there. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22]

 

Muslim teacher escapes gaol sentence

A Muslim teacher from Walthamstow who was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm when he slapped a six year-old boy for showing disrespect to the Qur'an causing him to hit his head on a radiator which inflicted a wound which needed stitches. The judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court said that such an assault would normally attract a prison sentence but in the exceptional circumstances of this case he decided to give the teacher a conditional discharge with an order to pay 200 in costs. The teacher explained that he had spent five years in a Dar ul-Uloom in the north of England where he was regularly beaten for failure to learn his Qur'anic lessons. He had merely exercised the same attitude in correcting the boy in order to instill respect for the Qur'an. He acknowledged that he did not intend that the boy should strike his head on the radiator (Chingford Guardian 19.05.94). [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 22/23]

 

BBC TV: Faith in the system

BBC TV broadcast a programme called Faith in the system on 14th June which explored Religious Education in two contrasting schools. In one, in Maryport, Cumbria, the pupils were engaged in learning about various faiths under a newly appointed Head of RE who held that religious conviction on the part of the teacher is not a pre-requisite for being an RE teacher, "It's like teaching swimming. You don't have to be able to swim to teach swimming" (Guardian 15.06.94). In the other school, in Birmingham, around 80% of the pupils are from Muslim families and attend regular after-school classes in Islamic Studies. The Islamic Studies lessons are seen as a vital part of developing the students' religious identity and knowledge of their faith. The main thrust of the programme was to see how religious values in society were being promoted by RE in schools. The programme highlighted the debate in education as to whether RE is about informing pupils about the religions of the world or developing a given set of religious values in the children. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

Mosques

Bolton

The Macca Mosque Muslim Community Centre has been awarded a grant of 3,500 from Bolton Council towards resurfacing its car park. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

Crawley

The Jamiat-Ul-Muslemeen Association bought a site in the Broadfield area some years ago with a view to building a mosque. It has planning permission for a 386 square metre building but has now gone back to the planning committee with a request to extend the plans for a building of 470 square metres. This has led to fresh complaints from local people about the loss of recreational ground and increased traffic congestion. A decision from the planners is awaited. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

Leeds

An appeal has been launched for 1m to pay for the construction of a new mosque in the Chapeltown area to replace two existing overcrowded mosques. The new mosque will provide a wide range of facilities for all sections of the local Muslim community. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

Tower Hamlets

An earlier planning application to convert the former "Flamingo" public house into a mosque was turned down by the Bethnal Green Neighbourhood division of the council which was controlled by a Liberal Democrat majority (see BMMS for April 1994) amidst some speculation on racist motivation. Local Muslims have now decided to re-submit their application to the new Labour-controlled council. The building was unsold at a recent auction and was bought by a property developer for 100,000. The new owner has expressed an interest in selling it to the Muslim group if the price offered is sufficient. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

Whitechapel

Muslims in Whitechapel have been using a portable building as a mosque under a temporary planning permit after they found that they did not have sufficient money for a permanent building. The temporary permit is now due for renewal and a local planning enquiry is to be held. [BMMS June 1994 Vol. II, No. 6, p. 23]

 

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