British Muslims Monthly Survey for November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11
The Muslim Parliament held its ninth session in the Logan Hall, University of London, on 27th November (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for October 1994). The turn-out was disappointing and proceedings were reported only in the Muslim press (Q News & Daily Jang 02.12.94). The only motion for debate which attracted wider coverage was that which focused on sex education in state schools which was held to be "laden with values totally contradictory to those of Islam and indeed other religions" (Lancashire Evening Telegraph 25.11.94). The burden of objections to most school sex education was that it is conducted outside a moral framework which gives clear guidance as to the centrality of sex within marriage and the inadmissibility of homosexuality as a valid alternative lifestyle. A motion was unanimously passed which "recommended that all Muslim parents withdraw their children from sex education classes, as is their right under the law" (Q News 02.12.94).
The issue of the provision of genuinely halal meat was again debated. It was noted that there is still mixing of halal and haram [forbidden] meat and that interested parties are bringing pressure to bear to restrict the influence of the Halal Food Authority. It was noted that there are now 20 approved HFA outlets for halal meat which are concentrated in London and Leicester.
An emergency debate focused on the plight of British Muslim Ahmed Omar Sheikh who is currently detained in India on charges relating to the kidnap of tourists in an effort to draw attention to the struggle for independence in Kashmir (see BMMS for October and November 1994). The parliament resolved to support Sheikh's family and call on India to ensure that he is treated in accordance with the Convention on Human Rights.
The debate on "Europe's cultural crusade against Islam" was introduced by a speech from Dr Yaqub Zaki who held that there had been a sinister renaissance of the confrontation between Islam and the West. He cited various literary attempts to "ridicule Islam and bring it into disrepute" (Daily Jang 02.12.94). "Pointing out the role of creative media in launching this cultural crusade, he said it is a "cultural crusade under the guise of education". He called for measures to be taken to "neutralise the evil" that subtly works in the veil of literature and art, and a true interpretation of the much misinterpreted, Muslim perspective on the arts". [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 1]
Gwent County Council has received a planning application from a Newport Muslim to build an abattoir opposite the entrance to Varteg Road Cemetery, Blaenavon. The abattoir will be used for both Jewish and Muslim slaughter with all the necessary facilities. Currently the intention is that 3,000 lambs plus other animals will be killed weekly. Concern has been expressed about the noise generated by animals penned on the site awaiting slaughter and the congestion of lorries transporting animals and meat (South Wales Argus 06.12.94).
Villagers, environmentalists and farmers in Upper Whiston, near Rotherham, are registering their objections to plans submitted by the Bhatti family to build an abattoir on their land at Greenstacks Farm. Concern centres on the additional traffic and the lack of proper drainage and an adequate water supply. The farm is in a designated "green belt" area where such a development would only be permitted under exceptional circumstances. Rotherham Borough Council will consider the application and objections in December (Yorkshire Post 03.12.94).
The Euro-Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Belgium, invited a delegation of British Muslims to attend the opening of a halal abattoir for chickens and a factory for manufacturing halal feedstuffs for poultry (see BMMS for September 1994). The two enterprises are now ready for full operation once sufficient orders for their goods are received. The Halal Food Authority has expressed an interest in arranging distribution of the "Baladi" chicken, named after the production company, through their approved retailers (Q News 02.12.94).
A Salford man appeared before an industrial tribunal claiming that he was unfairly dismissed from a Jewish butchers because he arranged to sell surplus stock to local Muslims. The Manchester-based butchers operated under a licence from and the supervision of the Manchester Beth Din [Jewish religious court]. According to this licence, all carcasses which were approved as kosher were to be given a special seal and then despatched to a London firm. The general manager, Momy Toledano, arranged to sell surplus carcasses to local Muslims who wanted to see the seal on them to prove that they were kosher for Jews and, therefore, halal for Muslims. Such action broke the agreement with the Beth Din and led to the manager's dismissal (Manchester Evening News 03.12.94).
Residents in the Bakersfield district of Nottingham are registering their complaints following an application to erect a poultry abattoir behind a butcher's shop. The area is heavily residential and the shop lies on the main pedestrian route to two local schools. There are fears that the abattoir will attract flies and rats as well as cause concern to locals who will have to witness the animals arriving and waiting for slaughter. Protesters claim that such an enterprise should be sited in a non-residential area (Nottingham Evening Post 30.11.94).
Bradford Council for Mosques and West Yorkshire trading standards inspectors are to combine forces in a move to eradicate any false descriptions of meat as halal. There is a fear that meat which is unfit for consumption or which has been slaughtered in an Islamically unacceptable fashion is being passed off by butchers as halal. The trading standards officers have been investigating the situation for the past two months and are now to be joined by representatives from the Muslim community. They have pledged to investigate the problem and bring prosecutions against offenders under trades description or hygiene regulations. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 2/3]
Around fifty people gathered at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park to discuss the situation of Muslim children in British state schools. The conference was hosted by the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Foundation of St Catharine's and attracted a rich selection of educationalists, academics and practioners from many specialisms. Sessions were devoted to various aspects of the education process and a wide range of topics were discussed. A summary of the deliberations of the conference will be available early in 1995 when it is published by the foundation.
Of particular importance were some of the practical suggestions put forward by working groups. Among these were:
1. To establish Muslim working groups to examine subject areas of the curriculum with a view to developing the best range of options for Muslim pupils within the bounds of the National Curriculum.
2. There is a need for more research on child development from an Islamic perspective.
3. More Muslim teachers are urgently needed and the status of the teaching profession must be raised within the Muslim communities.
4. Independent Muslim schools could be used to develop curriculum units which could then be used in maintained schools.
5. Legislation in needed to enable voluntary schools to circumvent their Trust Deeds in order that acts of worship of other religions might be held on their school premises.
6. The concept of school assemblies was stressed but there is also the legitimate right under current legislation for faith-based acts of worship. When such collective worship is requested by parents, it should be allowed at the discretion of school governors without reference to the local SACRE.
7. The need for the retention of single-sex schools, especially for girls, was stressed.
8. To improve the quality of Islamic input from currently ill-qualified imams it was suggested that there should be a government-based system of licensing imams as registered ministers of religion.
9. The government should take the initiative in bringing into being national Muslim representative bodies as it had done with the foundation of the Board of Deputies and the Chief Rabbinate for Jews.
10. Stronger links need to be built between schools and the communities which they serve. In this both mosques and supplementary schools have important parts to play. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 3]
The decision by the management at the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) to ban members of Hizb ut-Tahrir from speaking at meetings of the school's "1924 Committee" (see BMMS for October 1994) led to an emergency meeting of the school's student union to debate a resolution which opposed "any attempt by college management to restrict what SOAS students can think, argue or organise" (Jewish Chronicle 11.11.94). The meeting was attended by an estimated 400 people and the resolution was passed together with another which undertook to take legal action against any group or individual who incited racial hatred or violence. Muslim students attended the meeting and some voted in favour of the resolution whilst making it clear that they supported freedom of speech rather than the ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir (Q News 11.11.94).
After the meeting a student society called "Campaign Against Militarism" announced a meeting at which Omar Bakri Muhammad, the national leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir, was invited to speak. After this meeting it was indicated that this society will not be inviting members of Hizb ut-Tahrir to speak again. It was pointed out that the original ban on such speakers only referred to their speaking at meetings of the 1924 Committee. Further, a 1924 Committee meeting entitled "The rise of Islam on British campuses" was cancelled after a written warning from the Student Union to say that it would breach the school's code of practice and could lead to a ban on all future meetings of the society (Jewish Chronicle 02.12.94). Observers of student unrest over the decades will detect a recurrent theme of student idealism which is currently manifesting itself in Muslim circles in the guise of Hizb ut-Tahrir. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 4]
According to a report in the Birmingham Express and Star (12.11.94), Ayatollah Jannati, one of the senior religious leaders in Iran, reiterated the fatwa against Salman Rushdie in an address at Tehran University on 11th November. He was reported to have said, "The Rushdie edict is like a bone in their throats. They try so hard, but the edict is irrevocable as long as that man lives". Earlier in the same week, Rushdie had criticised the governments of Europe, especially Germany and Britain, for continuing to trade with Iran instead of exerting economic pressure on it by a trade embargo. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 4]
The Health Education Council published a leaflet assuring parents of the safety of and need for the measles vaccination (see BMMS for October 1994). The leaflet was translated into Urdu but the translation contained several serious mistakes which were spotted by Sher Azam, the President of the Bradford Council for Mosques. The mistakes included the omission of a negative in a key sentence and the substitution of brain for defence. The leaflets were withdrawn and replaced by the Health Education Council which also published an apology and note of correction in the Muslim press. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 4]
The community and environmental services committee of Bradford City Council has approved plans for a shelter to be built to protect Muslims attending funerals at the Scholemoor Cemetery (see BMMS for September 1994). The £101,000 construction will consist of a steel frame clad in a stone exterior with ornate steel gates. A similar shelter exists in Blackburn. The proposal will now have to go before the policy and resources committee. Chesterfield Borough Council has agreed to set aside a section of land at Brimington Cemetery for the exclusive use of Muslims. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 5]
The Slough Islamic Trust has failed in its attempt to get an injunction from the county court prohibiting certain members of the Pakistan Welfare Association from worshipping in the Diamond Road mosque. The injunction was refused by the judge on the grounds that the trustees were in contravention of their trust deed in trying to keep worshippers out. The trustees had argued that they had the power to restrict entrance to the mosque. The issue is part of an on-going dispute between factions within the Muslim community (see BMMS for April, August, September and October 1994). The judge appealed to both sides to settle the dispute amicably (Slough & Langley Express 17.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 5]
Friends and relatives of Ahmed Omar Sheikh, the LSE student who is being held in India on suspicion of being involved in a plot to kidnap three tourists to draw attention to the plight of Muslims in Kashmir (see BMMS for October 1994), have issued an appeal, dated 16th November, which alleges that he has been tortured whilst in custody, has sustained numerous fractures and flesh wounds and has been refused proper medical attention (Q News 25.11.94). Amnesty International has investigated the allegations and at present agrees with the official response of the British Foreign Office that there is no evidence of torture. A spokesman for the Foreign Office said that "Mr Sheikh is well and he has no complaints. Our consular visits have reported that he is being treated well". [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 5]
The Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal) was launched in London on 5th November. The organisation aims to provide support to poor Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon. To coincide with the launch of the new fund the Palestine and Lebanon Relief Fund will cease raising funds in the UK. Interpal can be contacted through PO Box 3333, London NW6 1RW. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 5]
The Muslim weekly Q News (25.11.94) produced a four-page profile of Oxford concentrating on Muslim life there. The origins of Muslim students in the university were traced back to the nineteenth century when wealthy Indians enrolled. There have been Oxford converts to Islam ever since, many of whom have followed the sufi path. Some immigrant groups settled there to work in the engineering works after the 1939-1945 war which has resulted in communities of Punjabi and Bangladeshi origin. The usual divisions were recorded between the subcontinent groups and between "town and gown" Muslims, with strong associations of educated Muslims being noted. The authors of the supplement gave prominence to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies but were unable to obtain an interview. They printed a list of questions, the answers to which would have illustrated the work of the Centre. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 5/6]
New research has been published on the possible genetic consequences of first-cousin marriages in the October edition of Nature Genetics. It revealed that children of such marriages have a 5% higher chance of mortality between the ages of six months and ten years. First-cousin marriages are common throughout the Muslim and Arab worlds and in some places account for a substantial percentage of all marriages. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 6]
Professor William Montgomery Watt, the emeritus professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh, was profiled in The Glasgow Herald (19.11.94) to mark the re-issue of several of his major works under the impress of Oneworld. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 6]
A 110 year-old terrace of houses in Stoke Newington is to be developed by the North London Muslim Housing Association to provide 10 new four-bedroomed houses at a cost of £978,000 by the end of next year. The terrace, which was beyond all economic repair, was sold to the association as part of the Hackney Housing Partnership which aims to provide 1,400 new homes in the borough. In order to ensure that work could begin, bailiffs had to remove up to 30 squatters from the derelict houses. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 6]
The Huddersfield branch of the Islamic Society of Britain together with the Young Muslims raised £500 during an Islam Awareness Week to donate to the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary to partially fund projects in the children's ward and the special care baby unit. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 6]
David Rosser-Owen, deputy editor of the Muslim weekly Q News, gave a talk on "The Case for a Muslim Media" at the Centre for Islamic Renaissance in London, a summary of which was published in the paper on 18.11.94. Mr Rosser-Owen drew on the highest ideals of British journalism as exemplified in the writings of such stalwarts as C.P.Scott, the editor of the Manchester Guardian, in the 1920s and John Delane, editor of The Times in the 19th century. He stressed the need for journalists to be independent of political, sectarian and special-interest groups and seek to express the truth at all costs. Such a vision ought to be central to any Muslim publication in particular as Muslims are exhorted to "be witnesses to Truth, even against yourselves".
Inspired by such ideals, it is essential that Muslim journalists do not attempt to avoid the embarrassing deficiencies in their own religious ranks and at the same time to expose short-comings and double-standards within public life. There is a great need to inform both Muslims and non-Muslims of the truths for which Islam stands so that ignorance can be eliminated and prejudices illuminated. As a servant to the Muslims who live in Britain and wherever English is read, Q News sees itself as a voice promoting honest enquiry and the dissemination of accurate information and comment. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 6/7]
Muslim leaders and anti-racist campaigners have expressed their concern to the Prime Minister over short-comings in the law which prohibited the Inner London Crown Court from imposing a tougher sentence on a 17 year-old youth who carried out a racially motivated attack on an 18 year-old Bengali Muslim student which left him fighting for life with his scalp detached from his skull and severe facial injuries. The youth was sentenced to the maximum which the law permits, namely eleven months in a young offenders' institution. The fact that he had been in custody on remand since the Spring meant that he had effectively served his sentence so he was allowed to walk free from the court. Under the terms of the Criminal Justice Act, which comes into force next year, the youth's sentence could have been increased to a maximum of two years. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 7]
The sixth annual Islamic Relief Games were held in the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham, on 13th November. Around 6,000 people attended what was described as a "fun day out" for families. There were numerous stalls selling all manner of goods which contributed to the atmosphere of a bazaar. Sporting activities were limited to football and karate with both teams and individuals coming from all over Britain as well as France and Germany. A total of over £20,000 was raised to further the work of Islamic Relief. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 7]
Muslims in the West Norfolk Islamic Association have contributed £100 towards a fund for a memorial to a Peterborough policeman, Paul Sutton, who died from internal bleeding whilst on his fourth visit to Bosnia delivering relief aid. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 7]
Mrs Saba Risaluddin, a founder-trustee of The Calamus Foundation, has been elected an International President of the World Conference on Religion and Peace. She gave a keynote speech at the sixth World Assembly which was held in Italy in early November. The WCRP is dedicated to promoting co-operation between the world's religions for peace. It has a world-wide membership and is accredited to the UN. The Calamus Foundation, which can be contacted at 18j Eaton Square, London SW1W 9DD, exists to promote better relations between Christians, Jews and Muslims. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 7]
A new book has been published by Dr Philip Lewis, the inter-faith adviser to the Bishop of Bradford, entitled Islamic Britain (I.B.Tauris, £11.95). The book traces the development of Muslim communities in Britain and shows the turbulent times through which they have passed up to the present day. The book was welcomed by community leaders in Bradford where it was launched. Ramindar Singh, the head of contemporary studies at Bradford & Ilkley Community College, regarded the book as a major contribution to Bradford literature which presented an analysis of the Muslims in Bradford in their diversity (Bradford Telegraph and Argus 25.11.94). Likewise the book prompted a review article in The Guardian (30.11.94) which commented that Lewis, "has set himself the task of "de-exceptionalising" the Muslim community; of "dispelling the parody of Islamic traditions" which most of us nurture. Lewis wants to un-demonise the British Muslim." [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 7/8]
Six Muslim men in Derby appeared in the crown court charged with falsely imprisoning two men and threatening to kill them. The leader of the six men enlisted help from five family members to track down two of his teenage daughters who had run away from home to escape marriages which he had arranged for them in Pakistan. The case is proceeding. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 8]
A Merseyside Muslim policeman with twelve years service is to sue the Merseyside Constabulary for ongoing discrimination and victimisation. This case comes three years after the same officer was awarded £6,000 in an out-of court settlement for alleged racial discrimination. This case is one of four allegations about racial discrimination in the Merseyside force. Maqbool Javed, Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, indicated that cases of racial discrimination are "quite clearly still prevalent" in the police (Q News 18.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 8]
Around 700 people gathered in the basement of the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regent's Park, to attend the annual dinner and awards evening for the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS). The central address was given by Imam Siraj Wahhaj from New York and the master of ceremonies was Michael Bukht, the TV presenter. The awards for prize essays went to Asma Yacub for an essay defending the thesis that Islam is not a sexist religion and to Syed Afzal Hasan Uddin for an essay on the place of sufism within Islam. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 8]
In the wake of the terrorist attacks on Israeli targets in London in July (see BMMS for July 1994) the police set up a security review of Jewish sites in Britain. As part of the response to that review, the Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard with responsibility for the Anti-Terrorist Squad wrote to the Board of Deputies of British Jews urging them to review their long-term security measures. The Board welcomed the advice on security and said that measures were in hand to combat the continuing threat of violence from terrorist groups (The Independent 12.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 8]
A delegation from the Lancashire Council of Mosques went to see the coroner responsible for the Blackburn district to discuss matters relating to the issue of death certificates. Their two main concerns were the delays caused when people died during the week-end and when relatives had to wait for a post-mortem to be conducted. Although provision had been made for week-end burials to take place, they felt that in these two areas unnecessary delays were still occurring which resulted in unwarranted additional suffering for relatives. The coroner said that special arrangements could be made in particular circumstances but that he had to serve the whole community with equity (Lancashire Evening Telegraph 15.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 8/9]
The Health and Safety Executive has produced a new leaflet on basic rights for employees to a safe and healthy working environment. It lists the classes of information to which employees are entitled and the facilities which must be provided free by employers. It will be produced in five Asian languages in addition to English and can be obtained from HSE Books, PO Box 1999, Sudbury, CO10 6FS. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
The Calamus Foundation and JADE (Jewish Arab Dialogue in Europe) held an afternoon of prose, poetry and music to commemorate the 22 victims of the bus bombing in Tel Aviv in October. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
The weekly, East End Life (17.11.94), devoted its centre-page spread to a profile of the Muslim communities and mosques which are to be found in the East End of London. It gave several pictures of Muslims and mosques together with a brief introduction to Islam for the general reader. This formed part of a series which the newspaper is publishing covering religions in the area. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
A Guide to Resources in Glasgow has been produced in English and Asian languages to raise awareness about dementia and inform readers of the services which are provided locally for such people. It can be obtained by telephoning 041-558 0111 extn 3290. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
Dr Colin Francome, a medical sociologist at Middlesex University who produced a survey of trends with regard to marriage amongst Sikhs and Hindus in Britain (see BMMS for July 1994), has now published the results of his parallel research into such trends amongst Muslims. The report, called The Great Leap 2, is based on interviews with 123 university students. It recorded that 45% of female and 25% of male students would seek an arranged marriage. Further, 48% of men and 36% of women would consider having sex before marriage. Finally, 73% of males and 58% of females felt that there are major differences between themselves and their parents in terms of their attitudes to relationships, sex and marriage. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
A directory of Muslim educational groups, schools, halal food suppliers and legal services in Greater London has been launched under the name of The Muslim Pages by the Anglo-Arabic Graphics Ltd and the IQRA Trust. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 9]
Council planning officers are engaged in public consultation over the proposed site of a new community centre. The project has been put forward by the Waltham Forest Muslim Welfare Society which wants to convert a former organ shop into a community centre. There has been a significant amount of opposition from local traders who fear that there will be parking problems if the centre goes ahead. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 10]
The Islamic Education and Cultural Society in Hillingdon has commenced negotiations with the Hillingdon Council over a 25-year exclusive lease on Hayes Civic Hall. The Hall was built as a community centre nearly twenty years ago for the use of local people. The Muslim group will be forced to leave their current site by Uxbridge College (see BMMS for October 1994) in the near future at which time they hope to move into the Civic Hall and by which time the current users, about 200 people who meet for badminton, keep fit and a dining club for the elderly, hopefully will have moved into alternative accommodation. There has been some local opposition to giving the use of the Civic Hall to one part of the community exclusively. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 10]
All four defendants in the case concerning the death of a young Muslim woman from Ilford who was systematically beaten during an exorcism spanning two days (see BMMS for October 1994) have been found guilty of manslaughter. The judge has called for medical reports prior to passing sentence when the court reconvenes in December.
The verdicts provoked the director of the Ilford Muslim Centre to condemn the woman "exorcist" as someone who meddled with something of which she knew little and thus caused the waste of a life. She was someone who preyed on the vulnerable (Barking & Dagenham Recorder 01.12.94).
Commenting on the incident, Fuad Nahdi, the editor of Q News, told The Weekly Telegraph (30.11.94) that specialists in djinn [ beings created from fire which some Muslims believe to be capable of possessing humans] are known throughout the Muslim world. "Many are genuine, some are crooks. Unfortunately, we have more than our fair share of crooks in Britain." Further, he said that the concept of exorcising djinn belongs to the realm of folklore. People use the ignorant's fear of "being possessed" as a way of securing power over them. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 10]
Three Muslim men from London, who had been arrested by police for putting fluorescent orange "Khilafah" stickers on telephone boxes and lamp posts in Bradford on 19th February, were each fined £120 with £90 costs by Bradford magistrates (Bradford Telegraph and Argus 05.12.94). They had been charged with depositing litter. Thousands of the stickers appeared in Bradford during the weekend in question (see BMMS for March and April 1994). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 10]
The Revd Colin Albin, interfaith adviser to the Bishop of Blackburn, has produced a Christmas card in Urdu and English specifically designed for Christians to send to Muslim friends to wish them festive greetings. The text reads: "May God who sent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, give you his peace at Christmas" (Lancashire Evening Post 03.12.94). The card, which is on sale through local outlets, is a response to the lack of Christmas cards which are suitable to send to Muslims without causing offence. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11]
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding intruders at the Al-Madina Islamic Centre, Worcester, who entered the mosque and left a pig's head in one of the rooms on 9th November. A meeting has been held between mosque officials, police, councillors and members of the Racial Equality Council. It has been stressed that this is an isolated incident (Worcester Evening News 02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11]
The An-Nisa Centre, Coventry, which is run by the Muslim and Young Women's Association, has recorded a successful year of service to women from the local community by running a total of 27 different classes in all manner of subjects ranging from basic English, through textiles, to Information Technology. They now have 248 students and proudly report 20 of their former students finding employment during the past six months. There was a presentation ceremony in November attended by the Deputy Lady Mayoress of Coventry. The centre has now run into financial difficulties as some of its grants expired in September '94 and others run out in September '95. Funding has come from local and national government sources. The cost of running the centre is around £60,000 per year and an appeal is to be launched to find funding from new sources including Europe. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11]
A small demonstration was mounted outside the French Embassy in London on 26th November to protest against the French government's attitude towards the Muslims of France. The focus of the demonstration was the current struggle over Muslim girls wearing headscarves in French schools. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11]
The Saudi dissident, Sheikh Abdallah al-Mas'ari, a leading member of the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights, has been refused political asylum in Britain. The British government drew attention to the "first country rule" by which Mr al-Mas'ari should have applied for asylum in Yemen as this was the first country to which he went after leaving Saudi Arabia. An appeal is to be launched which may well take up to two years to be resolved ( Q News 02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11]
The Muslim weekly Q News ran a special series on death during November (04.11.94 and 11.11.94). This series dealt with the practical aspects of preparing a body for burial, arranging a funeral, making a will and visiting graves. Detailed instructions were given in each instance and Muslims were exhorted to accept the responsibilities of caring for the dying and burying the dead rather than leaving it to outside agencies. Within the next few months, the Q News team intend to produce a booklet on Dying, Burial and the Will. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 11/12]
A play is to be staged at the Cellar Theatre, Huddersfield, which explores the tensions in a mixed-faith marriage. The play is set in contemporary India and features a couple from both Hindu and Muslim traditions. The leading role will be taken by Sudha Bhuchar who appears in the television series Eastenders. The play is a joint production between the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Tamasha Theatre Company. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 12]
The Magistrates' Court in Walsall offered a Muslim man a copy of the New Testament written in Arabic, mistaking it for a copy of the Qur'an, for him to hold whilst swearing an oath. The man spotted the error and called for a Qur'an instead. A further seven books were brought but none of them proved to be a Qur'an. Eventually, the man went home to fetch his own copy so that he could properly swear his oath (Birmingham Evening Mail 02.12.94). This led to suggestions that people had been deliberately swearing oaths on these books knowing them not to be the Qur'an so that they were not thus bound to tell the truth. A local Muslim leader pointed out that, "Dishonest people would not care what book they were given because they would not take an oath seriously" (Wolverhampton Express & Star 02.12.94). The court reported that it had had the books checked by translators in the past but any errors had not been spotted. The court has now purchased two genuine copies of the Qur'an for future use. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 12]
A 65 year-old Muslim doctor from Norton Lees, Sheffield, appeared before the General Medical Council charged with serious misconduct after five boys were admitted to hospital following botched circumcisions performed by the doctor. The Council found that the doctor had too little skill and experience to perform the operations and failed to provide adequate post-operative care. He was banned from performing the operation for three years (The Sheffield Star 29.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 12]
Two Muslim sports clubs in Peterborough have applied to the city council for grants to provide the facilities for sporting activities. The Kashmir Cricket Club has asked for £500 for kit and Shia Sports has asked for £675 for sporting equipment for cricket, football and table tennis. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 12]
An evening of English and Asian music is to be staged in Nelson, Lancs., to bring together the Christian and Muslim communities in the run-up to Christmas. A smaller event was staged last year but this year's celebration will run to two days and cost a total of £1,400. Pendle Council was asked for a donation towards the cost. Ultimately it agreed to give £250 with an understanding that it would be unlikely to be repeated. There was considerable opposition to the grant from Labour councillors who felt that it was "a party for dignitaries" (Nelson Leader 25.11.94). It was felt that it might be more appropriate to use the money to augment parties for the elderly which are run around the time of Christmas and Eid. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 12/13]
The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, made a visit to Britain to sign letters of intent with British companies who have agreed to invest in Pakistan. During this time she also visited the Pakistani population in Bradford where she met with support from her own party followers and opposition from other groups. The opposition had three main foci. Firstly, her government was charged with not giving adequate support to the Kashmiri struggle for independence from India. Secondly, members of the Muslim League complained at the arrest of some of their fellows in Pakistan. Thirdly, there were general complaints about the cost of visas and airline tickets for residents of Britain who wanted to visit family in Pakistan. Ms Bhutto announced action on the third matter only. Pakistanis living in the UK will be exempt from requiring a visa for a year until a final decision is made and there will be concessionary fares on Pakistan International Airways at certain times of the year (Daily Jang 02.12.94).
The visit was reported by Kathy Evans, the journalist who was responsible for bringing Hizb ut-Tahrir to public attention, in The Guardian (02.12.94). Her report contained several "facts" which have been queried by commentators, e.g. "80% of Bradford's 60,000 Pakistanis come from one town in Mirpur..." "Pakistan wants to boost the £900 million remittances it gets from the Bradford community..." "Bradford accounts for £2 million a year in visa fees to the Pakistan government". [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 13]
A Dundee man appeared in court to admit that he conducted himself in a disorderly manner, swore, challenged others to fight, shouted racist comments and kicked on the door of a mosque whilst Muslims were inside praying on 26 March 1994. Sentence was deferred until 16th December for social inquiry and community service reports (Dundee Courier & Advertiser 26.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 13]
When the Wembley Conference Centre withdrew its facilities for the satellite transmission of a speech by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (see BMMS for September and October 1994), the venue was changed to "Douggie's Place" (The InterMezzo Club) on the Lower Clapham Road in Hackney. Now the use of that club has been condemned with all-party support by a full meeting of Hackney Council which has reported the incident to the Commission for Racial Equality. The Nation of Islam, or its local manifestation "The People's Trust", has been criticised for the "evil message" contained in its publication The Final Call which is on sale in the area (Weekly Journal 17.11.94). The People's Trust operates out of an office leased from The Hackney Co-operative Development which is currently reviewing the situation.
Prompted by the decision, the Weekly Journal (24.11.94) published the speech in full so that readers might judge if it was inflammatory. Farrakhan outlined the history of African peoples in America and spoke of a vision to form a community of righteousness rather than one based on racial supremacy. He called on Africa to share that vision and pledged the support of African-Americans to aid them into becoming a proud world power in the next century. He praised democracy in Africa as a way of combining the visions of disparate groups and called for African unity. Similarly, he called for unity of all Muslims under the banner of Islam and not for Arabs or anyone else to feel themselves superior to African Muslims. He called for an Arab-African congress to unite the wealth of oil with the raw mineral potential of Africa to build a Pan African super-power in the next century. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 13/14]
A seminar was held in Brixton in the last week of November under the title, Asian Women and Suicide: Myth or Reality. There was a general consensus that not enough was being done to gather information about the full extent of the problem or to seek ways to support women and remove the pressures which lead them towards taking their own lives (Daily Jang 02.12.94). Figures have been provided by the North West Thames Regional Health Authority to suggest that the suicide rate amongst women from Asian families is three times higher than that which prevails in the white population. The profile of Asian women in the common perception was held to be a contributory factor in the misunderstanding of this problem in that many of the images of such women in the media tend to be negative without the corrective balance of the portrayal of successful and contented women of Asian heritage. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 14]
An exhibition of Islamic art and culture was staged in Leicester in an effort to raise the public perception of the richness of Islam. The exhibition was staged by the Leicester Asian Youth Association and was held in an education centre. There were hundreds of visitors to the exhibition including school parties during the day. In the evening a series of seminars on the role of the Muslim woman in the community, Islam and the West, and Muslim youth was held which attracted a total of 100 local residents. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 14]
As part of efforts to increase the cultural awareness of staff and administrators at the maternity unit in Peterborough, 40 signs have been erected around the hospital showing the direction of prayer. Prayer facilities are to be made available for patients and their visitors. In addition, more interpreters are to be retained, food provisions are to be examined and "parentcraft" sessions are to be run in the community rather than in the hospital with a view to attracting more women from minority communities. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 14]
A Conservative councillor in Havering, Essex, objected when the council agreed to grant £200 to the Essex Islamic Educational Trust to purchase copies of the Qur'an. He is reported to have said that, "The United Kingdom is a Christian country and local government policy should reflect this in every way" (Sunday Telegraph 27.11.94). He has been sent a letter by the Commission for Racial Equality warning him that he could face prosecution under the Race Relations Act as he might have induced councillors to vote "on racial grounds". The councillor has defended his words and noted that there was no racial intent. He has asked the CRE to make explicit how his words might be in breach of the law. A decision whether to prosecute will eventually be made by the CRE's commissioners at a later date. The letter from the CRE has provoked criticism from politicians and comment in the press that councils should concern themselves with secular provision rather than providing funds for religious purposes (Lancashire Evening Telegraph 30.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 14/15]
The Muslim Doctors' and Dentists' Association which is based in Birmingham held its annual dinner on 19th November at the Botanical Gardens, Birmingham. The guest speaker was Prof Akbar Ahmed of Cambridge. He spoke about the respective images of Muslims and the West. To coincide with this meeting, Q News published an interview with Dr Jafer Qureshi, a psychiatrist and leading member of the Association (02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 15]
The Church of England's "Church Urban Fund" is to donate £35,000 to the Muslim Women's Support Group in Manchester. Volunteers from the group help women who are burdened with care for the elderly and disabled. The grant will help with improved facilities at the group's headquarters and with buying new equipment. A spokesman for the Church Urban Fund said, "The project is an example of how Christians and Muslims are working together to address problems of poverty" (Manchester Evening News 01.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 15]
The first six homes in a re-development area in north London have been completed and occupied under a scheme managed by the North London Muslim Housing Association. The houses are on the site of a tower block which was demolished as unfit for further habitation. There are several similar sites to be re-developed in the Holly Street Estate, Dalston, on which houses will be built and managed in the same way. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 15]
Bradford police are investigating the cause of a fire in a mosque in Bakerend Road. Furniture had been set on fire and there was extensive smoke damage. It took the fire brigade ten minutes to bring the blaze under control. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 15]
A report from Israeli radio was printed by The Sunday Times (27.11.94) to the effect that Israel and Britain are to co-operate to prevent HAMAS groups raising money in Britain. It is further reported that Israeli security agencies have handed a dossier to MI5 and Metropolitan Special Branch detailing the way in which monies are being channelled to HAMAS through apparently humanitarian Islamic charities (The Weekly Telegraph 30.11.94). Further such indications were forthcoming after a visit by the Israeli Police Minister to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner (Jewish Chronicle 02.12.94). It would appear that there was an exchange of information from the Police Minister to the Commissioner which pointed to London being the "nerve centre" for funds to be sent from several countries to HAMAS groups active in Palestine. It is possible that a team of senior police officers from London will visit Jerusalem for further talks in the next few months. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 15]
A sixty-four year-old Muslim man in Derby was brought to court charged with causing actual bodily harm to a boy. The boy had thrown mud at the man who then chased him with a broomstick. In the course of the chase, the boy suffered bruises as he ran between a house and a fence. The man denied striking the boy. In court, the case was dismissed and the man was bound over to keep the peace for one year in the sum of £150. There has been concern expressed that the case ought never to have been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (Derby Evening Telegraph 02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 16]
The Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations organised a conference for school governors from minority communities on 19th November. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 16]
The weekly newspaper Eastern Eye (22.11.94), which aims to cater for communities of Asian origin in Britain, explored the subject of sex education for Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in an extensive report. It detailed the circumstances in which parents can withdraw their children from all sex education except those elements which are required in the National Curriculum. The predominant concern of all three religions was that sex education should be given within a moral framework which stressed the importance of relationships and fidelity to the religious impulses of the various traditions. There was a genuine fear that sex education without this framework would lead to an increase in religiously illicit relationships and the breakdown of family values. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 16]
A renewed application for planning permission has been submitted by the irregular Muslim school in the Canton district of Cardiff (see BMMS for October 1994). Planning officers had been monitoring the operation of the school since it opened in September to see if it caused any serious danger of a traffic accident. The county highways director said that there was no evidence of a problem in this regard as the school was using two minibuses and a car to transport children so there was less traffic than when the building was used as a T-shirt factory (South Wales Echo 11.11.94). The planning officers recommended that planning permission should be refused, on the grounds that there might be traffic congestion at a future date, but that no enforcement action should be taken so that the school could continue in its present irregular situation. When the planning authority met it decided that they should not wait for a future traffic problem but should act immediately. Accordingly, planning permission was refused and an enforcement order made. The only possibility now is that the school might be successful in an appeal to the Welsh Office to have one or both decisions overturned (South Wales Echo 18.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 16]
Beech Hill Primary School, Halifax, which draws 90% of its roll from the Muslim community, has become the first school in Calderdale to be granted a determination so that it will be able to hold Islamic collective worship rather than the statutory "broadly Christian". In future there will be Islamic worship on three days per week with a broader assembly on the remaining two (Halifax Evening Courier 16.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17]
The situation in St Andrew's (CE) Primary School, Eccles, in which it was deemed "unwise" to invite an imam to visit to teach children about Islam (see BMMS for October 1994), has been further clarified. There exists a certain tension following a failed attempt by Muslims to hold Islamic acts of worship in the school. The root of this problem lies in the trust deeds which govern all voluntary maintained schools. In church schools, such trust deeds normally state that worship on the site must be in accordance with the rites of the sponsoring church. This effectively makes it illegal for Islamic acts of worship to take place on such school property. These were the grounds on which permission was refused when Muslims made their earlier application (see also report on St Philip's College, Birmingham and point 5 on British Muslims and state education report). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17]
No overall picture of examination results for Muslim schools has been presented so far this year (cf. the tables published by the Muslim News (24.12.93) see BMMS for December 1993). The Islamia School, Brent, had its first significant number of candidates for GCSE and recorded outstanding results which put it at the top of the school league table in Brent. The Al-Hijrah School in Birmingham was placed 19th out of 96 and Bolton Muslim Girls' School was 9th out of 20. One factor which must be borne in mind is that many of the Muslim independent/community-funded schools are still fairly recently established and so do not have significant numbers of 16+ students sitting public examinations as yet. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17]
The Women's Environmental Network has produced a magazine for schoolgirls with the assistance of a charity called Network Foundation. The magazine is called Blossom and offers information on a range of sexual matters including masturbation, pregnancy tests and contraception. It has been supported by the Brook Advisory Centre but Muslims have criticised the first edition, due out in December with the headline "Masturbation - will I go blind?" Muslim commentators have held it to be in poor taste and lacking the moral framework for sex education which is required by law (Q News 02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17]
The Tipton Muslim Centre is to run 26-week National Vocational Qualification courses in plumbing and decorating. The courses will be offered in parallel single-sex groups so that Muslim sensibilities might be respected. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17]
The London Bible College has announced plans to establish the Guthrie Centre for Biblical Research and Islamic Studies. £235,000 has so far been donated towards the estimated costs of £415,000. It is hoped that the centre will be in operation by September 1995. A spokesman for the college said, "We need to understand the concerns of the Muslim world and to know how to demonstrate to them the love of God in Christ" (Methodist Recorder 01.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 17/18]
The foundation stone for a supplementary school in Halifax has been laid to mark the start of building on this £300,000 project. When completed the school will cater for around 400 pupils and will operate at weekends. So far, £192,000 has been raised from the local community. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 18]
Muslim girls who want to wear the hijab in Bretton Woods School, Peterborough, are to wear red and white striped headscarves in future to co-ordinate with the school colours as exemplified in the school tie. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 18]
The management of St Philip's Catholic Sixth Form College, Birmingham, was the subject of a special enquiry ordered by the Department for Education. This college attained notoriety by refusing to allow Muslim students to continue their established practice of praying on the school premises (see BMMS for September and October 1993). The enquiry was conducted by Sir John Caines, former permanent secretary at the DES.
In the enquiry report, the governors were charged with "significant failures" in complying with the law, the college's articles and with audit and inspection arrangements. A wider representation amongst governors was called for and an appeal made for a review of rules which govern the voluntary sector "to avoid the situation where a small body can achieve "effective domination" of an institution" (Morning Star 18.11.94). The report, which charged the governors with "excessive interference in the everyday responsibilities of the principal", was accepted by the religious community which owns the school site and appoints a majority of governors as an "accurate account of the history of the relationships between the governing body and the College" (Q News 25.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 18]
The Home Secretary has announced that the amount of money specifically earmarked for Section 11 funding will be doubled from £15m to £30m for the next two years. This money will be kept separate from the money allocated to the Single Regeneration Budget which has to cater for housing renovation as well as other urban projects (Daily Jang 02.12.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 18]
A double garage in Thornbury Crescent, Bradford, which has been used as a mosque has been ordered to close by the planning committee which has refused to grant it planning permission. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 18]
The question of converting a former brush factory in Chesham into a mosque has been raised again (see BMMS for June 1993). The mosque was used for prayer but it was found to be a fire hazard. These problems were resolved and permission was given for it to continue in use for prayer until an extension could be built onto a neighbouring semi-detached house. Now an application has been submitted to transform the factory into a mosque with the creation of on-site parking and a new access. There are continuing fears about traffic problems but councillors have heralded the scheme as imaginative (The Bucks Examiner 18.11.94). [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 19]
Local residents have complained about the increased noise from a marquee which is being used for prayers whilst the mosque is being re-built (see BMMS for October 1994). In the light of these complaints, planning officers recommended that the temporary planning permission should be withdrawn. The planning committee declined to follow their officers' advice but limited the use of the tent to one day per week. The same planning meeting approved plans for the new mosque to be built on the site. The most controversial point was the building of a minaret which local residents feared would be used to call the faithful to prayer and thus create a disturbance. It was ultimately agreed that the minaret should be built but without an internal staircase. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 19]
Members of the UK Turkish Islamic Cultural Centre have celebrated the completion of the foundations and basement for their new mosque in Kingsland Road, Haggerston, London. The mosque, which is expected to cost £5.5m, is scheduled for completion by the end of 1995. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 19]
Plans to convert a workshop in Northcote Street, Stockton, into a mosque to serve fifty people (see BMMS for October 1994) are being opposed by local councillors who fear that the building would be a fire hazard if so used and that the increased traffic will cause parking problems and represent a danger to children in the streets. Petitions have been submitted both for and against the mosque. The councillors who are opposed have stated that they recognise the need for another mosque in the area and are entering into negotiations with Muslim leaders to find an alternative site. The planning committee is expected to refuse permission for the conversion when next they meet. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 19]
An end-terrace house in Wellington Road, Tipton, has been given temporary planning permission to be used as a mosque for a further four years. The house has served as a mosque since the early 1980s but always with a view to catering for the community until a permanent site can be found. Such a site might be located on land behind Tipton Community Centre. [BMMS November 1994 Vol. II, No. 11, p. 19]