British Muslims Monthly Survey for September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9

 

Contents

 

Features

Deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed

Runnymede Trust’s work

Sayed Darsh death

Muslim News anniversary

Muslim schools: comment on HMI reports

 

 

Reports

 

Community

Religious discrimination

Southall disturbances

Sheffield centre problems

Centre plans approved

Oxford centre

Map dispute in Luton

Picture apology

Murder victim burial

Pub attack

Community centre presentation

Kashmiri minister visit

Tamasha show

Drinks licence campaign

Streatham sponsored walk

Islam Awareness Week

Savile Town donation

Dudley child death

Murdered children buried

Blackburn Qawali

Halifax imam interview

Pork served at convention

Human rights seminar

Police umpires at cricket match

Nurses in Saudi controversies

Funding advice to Muslims

Preston fundraising

World Service broadcast

Film dropped

Honour for Birmingham man

Leeds protest

Prostitution near Luton mosque

Calamus honour

Restaurant owner pornography campaign

‘Islam from within’

Marriage and honour

 

 

Education

Sandwell school application

Cardiff school move

 

Islamia funding application

Islamia planning application

Muslims threaten legal action

Muslim College convocation

Bolton school action plan

Islamic Academy lectures

School loses building bid

Zakaria school pupil success

RE opt out

Mosque opens for National RE Week

Arabic A-level threatened?

 

 

Politics

Sarwar update

Interpal on the alert

MP meets Muslims

UMO dialogue urged

 

 

Racism

Islamophobia update

Hoax poster campaign

Discrimination claim

Attack on Muslim

 

 

Women

Kidnap and rape update

Nottingham courses

Lottery grants

Welfare advice offered

Female genital mutilation

 

 

Youth

Muslim trainee reporter

 

 

Interfaith

Church buildings controversy

Bishop visits Pakistan

 

 

Halal

Halal meals in Slough

Officers threatened

 

 

Health

Highland Islamic Clinic

Directions sought in hospital

Anti-smoking campaign

HIV/AIDS prevention

Mental health information

Coventry health plan

Carers conference

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor burials

Bishops Stortford, Hockerill Street

Blackburn, Oak Street

Bromley, Penge High St

Forest Gate, Katherine Road

Gaywood, Lynn burials

Ilford, Albert Rd

Leicester, Evington Drive

London, Battersea, MBC Studios

Manor Park, Church Road

Ravensthorpe, Crawshaw St

Rochdale, Castlemere

Smethwick, Halfords Lane

Southall Park, Park View Rd

Walsall burials

Waltham Forest burials

West Ealing, Eccleston Rd

West Hendon, Brent View Rd

Woodford Bridge burials

 

 

Features

Deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed

The deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed have generated a large amount of press coverage (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for August 1997). The following account will concentrate on reporting and comment which puts the tragedy in the context of Britain as a multifaith, multicultural society. Fuad Nahdi, editor of Q-News, tried to explain to readers of the Independent (04.09.97) why Muslims, in Britain and worldwide, had been so affected by the death of Princess Diana. He writes: "Condolences have poured in from the most unlikely quarters - from Afghan Taliban guerillas, hardly known for their woman-friendliness or love of royalty, to hard-core Palestinian activists and Bosnian Muslim soldiers touched deeply by her anti-landmine stance. Besides beauty and charm, Diana’s biggest asset was that she seemed to stand above politics or ideology...The thoughts and prayers of the entire Muslim community are at the moment with the living. Friday prayers all over the country this week will include invocations for patience, solace and guidance for Princes William and Harry, and for Prince Charles. For many a conscientious imam, an extra prayer will be for another to spring up and take up the good work undertaken by Diana, Princess of Wales. At the moment, this seems difficult, for she is a ‘unique person’. However, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Or as the Holy Book [the Qur’an] puts it: ‘From Him we come and to Him we return’".

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, also attempted to explain the Princess’ popularity amongst people of many different cultures. Interviewed in East (06.09.97) he said: "Her adoption of different cultures, habits and dresses, for example her adoption of Pakistani dress on several occasions, symbolised her love of other cultures and people. She was a better example than many politicians in her ability to heal relations between different communities and bring people together. Only a few weeks ago the Sun newspaper had interviewed the Deputy Leader of the Muslim Parliament, Jehangir Mohammed, at length about the possibility of Diana becoming a Muslim, and any changes to her lifestyle and habits that might ensue".

The Times (06.09.97) publishes an article by Dr Pittu Laungani, reader in Psychology at South Bank University and co-editor of Death and Bereavement across Cultures (1997, London, Routledge). She outlines some differences between Muslim and Christian funerals, in particular, why Dodi Fayed was buried within 24 hours of his death. She writes: "Fayed’s body, in accordance with Islamic religious tradition, was brought back to England by his father. Islamic religious custom dictates that funeral rites shall be performed within 24 hours of death. The prophet Mohammed died on a Monday (June 8, AD 632) and was buried within 24 hours and Muslims have taken his lead. The harsh heat of the Arabian deserts also necessitates a speedy disposal of a corpse. The funeral ceremony of Muslims - Fayed’s would have been no exception - is simple, a simplicity which makes it extremely moving. The body is laid out on a hard surface and is washed. The ablutions are normally performed by close family members of the deceased, who also participate in the final internment of the body. In exceptional cases professionals are employed for this purpose".

Muslim News (26.09.97) interviewed Batool al-Toma of the Islamic Foundation on the public’s reaction to the tragedy. She said: "...The week’s events brought the phenomenon of life and death dramatically and poignantly to us because in a moment of madness or circumstance a person who was very much alive and prominent was suddenly taken away: made the property of another, and we have been left behind. This shows that you should do whatever you can do before it is too late". Batool al-Toma also observed that the deaths had occurred during ‘Bullying’ week on BBC television when a number of programmes looked at how the problem of bullying can be so severe as to drive some children to commit suicide. She reflected: "Bullies pick on the odd one out: someone who is too pretty, too clever, too different, too good. Diana was trying to do good yet the media picked up on her weaknesses and bullied her and pressured her, trying to suffocate her - in the end they brought about her demise and they are left to wring their hands as the children who have caused the death of a classmate are left to wonder and reflect". On a different aspect of the same theme, she said: "I can’t help wondering what might have happened had she not died and what the significance would have been for the British Muslim community. She was very close to Jemima Khan and must have been well aware of what advantages a Muslim family life had to offer".

In Blackburn, the Indian Muslim Consultation Forum held a special evening of remembrance at the Bangor Street Community Centre. It was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress, Peter and Dorothy Greenwood and poetry was read by local poet Judith Pratt. The chair of the consultation forum, Mahmood Tantwala said: "Princess Diana was one of those remarkable personalities of our time. Her life and work should be a source of great inspiration to present and future generations" (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 27.09.97). In Gloucester, the Muslim Welfare Association has been collecting signatures on a petition asking that the new Gloucester children’s hospital be named after Princess Diana (Gloucester Citizen, 01.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 1/2]

 

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Runnymede Trust’s work

Q-News (03.10.97) publishes several articles on the work of the Runnymede Trust on Islamophobia [see report in this issue of BMMS]. These include an interview with Professor Gordon Conway, chair of the trust’s Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia (page 14) and a preview of the trust’s report on Islamophobia and British Muslims, to be launched on 20 October in London (page 15). The ‘Conversation with Professor Gordon Conway’ begins with some interesting biographical details. He was educated at the Universities of Wales, Cambridge, Trinidad and California, where he did a PhD in Ecology. He went on to become professor of Agricultural Ecology at London University. A specialist in rural and environmental development, he spent much of his career in Muslim countries before becoming vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex in 1992. When asked what he had learnt in his two years on the Islamophobia Commission, Professor Conway answered: "Islamophobia is an ugly word, a term I don’t like to use, but I have come to realize that it exists and therefore sadly needs to be referred to. More than anything, I am now aware of just how much and how vitriolic the prejudice against Muslims is. Not everybody is anti-Muslim, and some people have an enlightened view, but there are still too many stereotypes about this strange ‘Pakistani/Arab religion’". Q-News (03.10.97) claims that its preview of the Runnymede Trust’s report on Islamophobia is an "exclusive". Many of the recommendations of the Report, as described in Q-News, appear to be underlining the need to implement legislation and recommended codes of practice which already exist. New areas are that the commission would like to see the appointment of Muslims to the House of Lords; legislation against religious discrimination and a review of the law on blasphemy; and that the National Union of Journalists should issue guidelines about reporting on culture and religion. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 2]

 

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Sayed Darsh death

The Guardian (04.10.97) carries an obituary to Dr Sayed Mutawalli ad-Darsh, who died on 25 September in Cairo after a long illness. Dr ad-Darsh, who died aged 66, was born in a village in the Eastern Delta region of Egypt. By the age of twelve he had memorized the whole of the Qur’an. He studied at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University and on graduating he was appointed as an imam and as a lecturer in his university’s theology department. In the mid-1960's, he spent a year studying English at Dundee University and then went to Lagos, Nigeria as a teacher. In 1971, Dr ad-Darsh was sent by Al-Azhar University to London to work as an imam at the Regent’s Park Central London Mosque. He worked there for nine years and then turned to journalism, broadcasting and writing. In addition to writing for two of the leading London-based Arabic newspapers, Al Sharq al-Awsat and Al-Muslimoon, he became an "agony uncle" with a regular column and question-and-answer page in Q-News. His advice was aimed particularly at younger British Muslims. Dr ad-Darsh was a trustee founder of the charity Muslim Aid; a patron of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies and of the Muslim Student Societies; and a supporter of women’s societies such as the north London An-Nisa Society and the Association of Muslims with Disabilities. He was also secretary of the UK Islamic Sharia Council. He leaves a wife, Fathia, two daughters and two sons. The Daily Jang (06.10.97) carried a brief report of a meeting at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regent’s Park Mosque, held to mark the death of Dr ad-Darsh. Those addressing the meeting were: Maulana Suhaib ul Hasan, chair of Muslim Aid; Dr Hani Al Banna, director of Islamic Relief; Iqbal Sacranie, joint convenor of the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs; Dr Hamid Al-Majid, director of the Islamic Cultural Centre and Shaikh Mohammad Owais. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 2]

 

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Muslim News anniversary

Muslim News (26.09.97) is celebrating its one hundredth issue. The newspaper first starting publishing in February 1989. The newspaper manages on a shoestring budget, with finance coming from subscriptions - although it is distributed free from many mosques in various parts of the country - donations from Muslim business people, advertising and the dedication of those who work for it. Muslim News is not financed by any religious group or political party. It is produced at the business premises of the editor, a chemist’s shop in Drury Lane, London. The themes in the anniversary issue include: the need for more Muslims, particularly young people, to go into publishing, journalism and the media; bursaries for training young Muslims for this work; the Muslim media in Europe; the creation of a British Muslim identity; and the idea that there is a "hidden agenda" of hatred against Muslims and Islam in Britain. On this latter point, the editor writes: "It [the newspaper] was welcomed by the Muslim community as its news coverage was extensive and serious and it managed, through our investigative journalism, to expose the hidden agenda of hatred against Muslims and Islam. This we exposed as the main reason for the constant rejection of funding for Muslim schools...We have continued on this path, exposing the anti-Islam attitude (or what is now called Islamophobia) ingrained in the Establishment - both the Church and the State. What we found most surprising is the attitude of the other Abrahamic faith leadership, ie, the Jews. We thought, now it seems mistakenly, that, as they had suffered in the past as a marginal minority, they would support our concerns. That has not been the case. They have actively campaigned against Muslims wanting to have religious discrimination and incitement to religious hatred outlawed, for example. The Jewish leadership have also campaigned to close down our charities. And, most importantly, they and the Anglican Church, have used the interfaith networks to impose their agenda on British Muslims. The classic example of this is when they elicited condemnation from the Muslim leadership at the bombings in Palestine, but refused to condemn Israel for the massacre at Qana in Southern Lebanon". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 2/3]

 

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Muslim schools: comment on HMI reports

A feature article by Ibrahim Hewitt, Development Officer for the Association of Muslim Schools (AMS) is printed in Muslim News (26.09.97). Mr Hewitt takes as his starting point the critical reports by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Education regarding two Muslim boys’ boarding schools, one in Flintham, Nottinghamshire (see BMMS for September 1995; January 1996; June and August 1997) and one near Bolton (see report in this issue of BMMS). There are two major themes to the article. The first is that the problems of management highlighted by the HMIs regarding both schools could be solved, or at least ameliorated, by management training. The second theme is that a rigid division of the curriculum delivered into "religious" and "secular" subjects is un-Islamic and inevitably results in low standards in one or both areas. Regarding the first problem, the author suggests: "The founders and principals of the Darul Ulooms inspected recently (in fact, all Muslim schools) should consider utilising the business skills of the wealthy businessmen from whom they seek financial support. Take the money, by all means, but ask for their knowledge, time and resources too. Why not? It may even be feasible for schools to ask for a member of a donor’s staff to be seconded for one day a week, or to work on behalf of the school in other ways. Such a change in emphasis, from just asking for money to asking for practical support, would illustrate the intentions of the school managers that they really do mean ‘business’ in the educational field. And people are more inclined to give money to projects which are professional in outlook and practice". On the second problem, Ibrahim Hewitt proposes that "...the traditional Islamic Studies syllabus has to be extended to include all subjects on the curriculum (why exclude Qur’anic verses of scientific relevance and importance from science lessons, for example?). The obvious places to take a lead in such developments are the places where Islamic studies should be strongest, that is, the Darul Ulooms. Progress in secular subjects does not have to be at the expense of Islam or Iman [faith] and the benefits and good practice arising in such a change in curriculum emphasis can be passed on to Muslim day schools which are sometimes criticised for not teaching Islamic Studies ‘properly’" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 3]

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Reports

Community

Religious discrimination

The New Humanist (01.08.97) carries an article about possible changes to the blasphemy law and the introduction of legislation against religious discrimination. The publication notes that the Commission for Racial Equality has called for a law against incitement to racial hatred and a law against religious discrimination (see BMMS for April, June, July and August 1997). The New Humanist states that it has consistently campaigned for the abolition of all blasphemy laws, and continues: "When does protection against religious discrimination become religious privilege? Muslims perceive themselves as discriminated against because they do not have the same constitutional advantages as Christianity - especially the Church of England. But the way to deal with this is to reduce all religious privilege rather than increasing the privilege for all religions". The article concludes by commending a book edited by Tariq Modood and published by the Policy Studies Institute, entitled Church, State and Religious Minorities. Modood’s book includes a secular humanist view contributed by Jim Herrick. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 4]

 

 

Southall disturbances

Time Out Magazine (03.09.97) reports that there is some doubt about the police giving their permission for a peace march in Southall, whose aim is to bring together Sikh and Muslim youths (see BMMS for February, April, May, June, July and August 1997). The organiser of the march, Suresh Grover, of the Southall Monitoring Group, said: "We did not go to the police to ask for their permission. We went to inform them that the march would take place. The police have been against this march from the beginning, and we have no idea why. They say that businesses are against the march, but I have consulted with many businesses and that is not my impression. And anyway, the overwhelming majority of people in Southall are just working people, not businessmen". Southall police deny that they have called for the march to be cancelled, claiming that a senior officer was misquoted by the press. A Southall police spokesperson said: "All we are saying is that the march will go ahead if the local community wish it to do so". Time Out Magazine (03.09.97) has printed a letter from Superintendents Meyers and Smythe from Hounslow and Southall Police Stations respectively, complaining that following an interview by Jonathan Green for the magazine about violence among the Asian community in Hounslow and Southall, they were "saddened that he [Green] attributed remarks to us that were both inaccurately quoted and out of context". They also wrote of their role in reducing tension and violence, including attacks on persons and property: "The police officers under our command have worked very hard to protect the vast majority of the community from the small criminal element which seeks to carry out these attacks. In this work, we are please to say that we have received the unreserved support of leading members of all sectors of the Asian community in both Hounslow and Southall. We are working with them in a number of initiatives to resolve any disputes..."

Muslim News (26.09.97) reports that a Muslim youth organisation in Slough has given police an ultimatum that they must solve the murder of Mohammed Nazir and the shooting in the knee of his son at their home on 28 July, Tariq Khan, spokesperson of the Pakistani and Kashmiri Youth Project, said: "If this situation is not resolved troops will have to be brought in". He made this statement at a demonstration outside the Slough Police Station in Windsor Road on 24 August. Muslims were demonstrating about what they claim is police inaction in defending Muslims and their property. Some claim that when in April, Sikhs from Southall attacked Muslims and their properties in the Chalvey Road area, the police did nothing. Inspector Steve Neal denied the accusations regarding the Chalvey Road problems and that the police generally discriminated against Muslims. As to the murder case, he said that it was still actively under investigation, but that so far the police had no leads. Tariq Khan warned: "This was a small and peaceful demonstration. If no arrests are made on the murder case, we will have a big demonstration and we won’t be responsible for the reaction of the youth then" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). The Big Issue (06.10.97), the weekly newspaper produced by and for homeless people, carries a feature article on the conflict between Sikh and Muslim gangs in Southall and the way in which such gangs are also responsible for some of the violence in Slough. According to the article, the Sikh gang is called "Shere Punjab" (Lions of the Punjab) and the Muslim gang is called the Chalvey Boys (after the area of Slough). One former Shere Punjab member, identified only as "Vik", said: "The fighting is about ‘atta’ and who’s got the best religion". The journalist, Raekha Prasad, explains: "Atta is the Punjabi word for the fine flour which is kneaded with water to make chapattis. It looks like heroin and has become the street word for the drug". Vik severed his links with Shere Punjab about two years ago when he became friends with a Muslim. He said: "My sister asked me to stop. But I also met a really, really safe Afghan. You get a few Muslims that are safe. I thought, ‘I’m not going to get involved with them anymore’. It all hit me." [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 4]

 

 

Sheffield centre problems

The new management at the Pakistan Muslim Centre in Attercliffe, Sheffield has admitted that there has been a fraud, involving about £10,000, and a breakdown in accountability (see BMMS for February, March and May 1997). A report by Abid Hussain, the acting general manager who took up the post this May, says: "On my appointment I was offered support by the committee and reassured that all information required to operate the company in an efficient and profitable manner would be made available at my request. I have, however, since found that much of the information I require is not available or simply does not exist". Because of concerns around lack of efficient financial management procedures, the National Lottery Charities Board decided to suspend payment of part of a £121,000 grant for a training course at the centre. On 3 September a spokesperson for the charities board said that the centre had recently been visited and there was evidence of an improvement in its management. She was hopeful that once outstanding information from last year’s accounts had been produced, the payment could be unfrozen. A critic of the organisation, Mohammed Jaffer, who was one of the centre’s original trustees, believed that its major funders should be more vigilant. He commented: "My main concern is how public money is being spent. When you ask questions there is no-one there to answer. The agencies such as the TEC (Training and Enterprise Council) and the SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) should be keeping a very close eye on it". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5]

 

 

Centre plans approved

Plans to build a multi-purpose Islamic centre in Sparthbottoms, proposed by Sparth Islamic Centre (see BMMS for August 1997), have been approved by Rochdale Council (Rochdale Observer, 06.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5]

 

 

Oxford centre

Talks are continuing between the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies and Merton College in an effort to prevent their dispute coming to court (see BMMS for February, March, April, May and June 1997). Merton has instituted legal proceedings against the Islamic Studies Centre to terminate the agreement between the two colleges, on the grounds that it was not consulted properly about plans by the Islamic Studies Centre to build on land between St Cross Church and Magdalen College. A spokesperson for Merton said: "The legal process is continuing. But this matter is unlikely to reach court before the beginning of next year. We will have to see if anything comes out of discussions before then" (Oxford Mail, 18.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5]

 

 

Map dispute in Luton

Q-News (19.09.97) reports on a dispute in Luton over a map of Kashmir, produced by Young Muslims UK as the centrepiece of their display in Luton’s Central Library in August (see BMMS for August 1997). The exhibition celebrated the 50th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. However, Yusuf Macki, a local Muslim, complained to the Luton News saying that the map showed Kashmir to be entirely within Pakistan. He told the newspaper: "They can’t go around changing facts". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5]

 

 

Picture apology

A newsagency has received several complaints after supplying newspapers with a photographic image, purporting to be that of the Prophet Muhammad. Graphic News in London had bought the image from Archive Photos, a New York company. At least two regional papers, the Bolton Evening News and the Gloucester Citizen reproduced the image on 20 August as part of articles about the Prophet’s birthday. Pictorial representations of the Prophet are forbidden under Islamic law. The director of Graphic News, Duncan Mill, apologised to Muslims, saying of the image: "We have taken it off our system. It’s not an excuse but it never occurred to us that it may cause offence. We felt awful about it" (Q-News, 19.09.97). Muslim News (26.09.97) reports that, following the publication, not only did the news agency, Graphic News apologise to Muslims and withdraw the picture from circulation, some local newspapers also apologised. After receiving many letters of complaint from local Muslims, the Bolton Evening News apologised to its Muslim readers. The director of the paper, John Walters and the deputy editor, Ian Savage, met with Bolton Mosques community Care on 26 August at the Bolton Mosque to discuss the issue. John Walters said at this meeting: "the article was carried in the paper because of a lack of understanding of Islam...we carried an article which I now know has caused great offence and insult to our Muslim readers, and for this I wish to offer my most sincere apologies". As a result of the meeting, it was agreed to form a panel of religious scholars as part of a consultative body for the Bolton Evening News. This panel will be responsible for writing a feature article on Islam and space will be given to the Muslims to publish details of important Islamic events. The Gloucester Citizen also published an apology after protests by local Muslims. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5]

 

 

Murder victim burial

On 29 August about three thousand mourners joined the funeral procession of Abdus Samad, popularly known as Kamal, the curry delivery man from Quaker Street in London’s East End, who was murdered in May. The funeral ceremony took place at the Brick Lane Mosque and Abdus Samad’s body was flown home for burial in Bangladesh the following day. In July three men from the East End were charged with Mr Samad’s premeditated murder (East London Advertiser, 04.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 5/6]

 

 

Pub attack

The landlord of The Castle pub in Castlefield, Mohammed Ramzan, claims that his pub has been firebombed and his life threatened by people who want to turn the pub into a Muslim youth centre. Mr Ramzan told the Bucks Free Press (28.08.97, 29.08.97): "There are just a few people who feel they can frighten me away. Two weeks ago I started getting threats that they will burn this place down. I’ve had threats written on the doors that I should not be here. They told me they would give me seven days to shut it down. That was last Friday. A guy approached me in the car park and said if I don’t sell up my life will be in danger". Mohammed Hanif, general secretary of the Wycombe mosque in Jubilee Road, confirmed that his organisation was interested in buying the pub, but condemned the attack. He said: "Wycombe Mosque became interested in the site a couple of months ago because we needed a community place in that area and we thought it was a suitable venue. But it has nothing to do with the firebomb incident - I condemn this type of hooliganism". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Community centre presentation

The Pakistani Muslim Welfare Society (PMWS) has presented Claremont House, a home for the elderly, with two model aeroplanes from World War Two and an anti-racist charter to say "thank you" to staff for letting them use the centre’s phones for the past 18 months, while their own base, the Battye Street Community Centre, was being refurbished. Waseem Riaz of the PMWS said: "We wanted to thank the staff at Claremont for being committed to working and helping in the community. We thought the model war-time planes would bring back some sentimental memories for the elderly residents at Claremont and, although the PMWS does not condone war, we hope they will enjoy reminiscing" (Spenborough Guardian, 29.08.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Kashmiri minister visit

The minister for law and parliamentary affairs of Azad Kashmir recently visited Burton-on-Trent, where he addressed a meeting at the Pakistani Community Centre about the political situation of the disputed territory of Kashmir. Cathar Ali Mohammed, the minister, was welcomed to Burton by local Kashmiri leaders, including the president of the Central Mosque, Rafaqat Hussain (Burton & South Derbyshire Advertiser, 03.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Tamasha show

A play about the "ethnic cleansing" at the time of Partition of India and Pakistan in 1946 to 1947 is currently touring Britain. It is called A Tainted Dawn and has been written and produced by the Tamasha theatre group. A Tainted Dawn was premiered at the Edinburgh Festival and will be showing at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 7-25 October. For details of other future venues, contact Tamasha on: 0171 328 4676 (The Times, 14.08.97, Independent, 15.08.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Drinks licence campaign

Muslims and Spiritualists in Falkirk have joined forces to protest against an application by the owner of D’Ambrosio’s Italian restaurant, Gerard D’Ambrosio, for a licence to sell alcohol. When the restauranteur made a similar application two years ago, Falkirk Muslim Association, whose mosque is next door to the restaurant, and Falkirk and District Spiritualist Church, whose premises are also nearby, launched a petition to the licensing authorities and their campaign was successful (Falkirk Herald, 04.09.97, Falkirk Advertiser, 10.09.97). Mr D’Ambrosio denies that if he is permitted to sell alcohol, his customers would cause any inconvenience to the mosque. He told the Falkirk Advertiser (17.09.97): "I feel it is a bit hypocritical for the Moslems to say that the consumption of alcohol goes against the beliefs of Islam when so many shopkeepers of that religion sell alcohol in their shops. We are trying to be good neighbours. We have helped clean up the area and had the lighting improved. We have often helped people who have been stranded at the mosque". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Streatham sponsored walk

At the beginning of September the Hater Mosque in Estreham Road, Streatham, south London, organised a five-mile long sponsored walk. The walk was to raise money for the British Home and Hospital for Incurables in Streatham and for Iran Earthquake Relief. The Hyderi Mosque is a Shia one, in a building which used to be a synagogue and belongs to the Khoja Shia Ithnasheri (South London) Jamat. Salim Sonji, organiser of the sponsored walk, said: "The group has been a bit self-contained and wanted to give something back to the community" (South London Press, 05.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6]

 

 

Islam Awareness Week

Events connected with Islam Awareness Week, held from 22 to 28 September, which coincides with Freshers’ Weeks at colleges and universities, have been advertised as taking place in Swindon (Swindon Evening Advertiser, 05.09.97, 18.09.97), Paisley (Paisley Daily Express, 10.09.97), various venues in Berkshire (Windsor & Eton Express, 18.09.97), Edinburgh (Edinburgh Herald & Post, 18.09.97), and Bradford (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 22.09.97), Blackpool (Blackpool Gazette, 23.09.97), Berkshire (East, 24.09.97), Cardiff (Cardiff Western Mail, 24.09.97), Swindon (Eastern Eye, 26.09.97, Q-News, 03.10.97), Huddersfield (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 27.09.97), Peterborough (Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 30.09.97), Grimsby (Grimsby Evening Telegraph, 01.10.97, Q-News, 03.10.97) and there was a London launch of the Week (Q-News, 03.10.97). In most places, Islam Awareness Week was marked by exhibitions, lectures, and opening mosques to school parties. The Blackpool Gazette (23.09.97) interviewed two doctors who are a married couple, Dr Irfan Ahmed, who is a GP, and Dr Rukhsana Ahmed, a specialist in paediatrics. They have two sons and were asked by the reporter about their children and marriage. Irfan replied: "I’d be happy for my sons to marry any girl, so long as their children were raised in Islam". Rukhsana replied: "I wouldn’t mind if my sons married an English girl, an African girl, whatever - so long as she’s a Muslim". The Peterborough Evening Telegraph (30.09.97) also interviewed prominent local Muslims, among them Ansar Ali, county councillor for Peterborough’s Central Ward. He said: "There has been a lot of misunderstanding about Islam. It is not just for Asians but for everyone and we have English, Afro-Caribbeans and all sorts of people getting involved. We are hoping to make the wider community more aware and give them a greater understanding and respect". Islamic Awareness Week is organised by the Islamic Society of Britain, in some localities in collaboration with Young Muslims UK. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 6/7]

 

 

Savile Town donation

Following a talk after Friday prayers at the Zakaria Mosque in Savile Town by Dr Tariq Farooqui about the dangers of cancer, the congregation and mosque committee donated £2,000 to pay towards the work of Marie Curie cancer nurses. Dr Farooqui, a local GP, said: "I am shocked and overwhelmed at the response. I’m very thankful to the community which has reacted so favourably. I never expected that much - it’s brilliant" (Dewsbury Reporter, 05.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 7]

 

 

Dudley child death

Twelve year old Azra Begum of Aston Road, Dudley was run over and killed by a bus as she was returning from her Qur’an class at Dudley Central mosque on 8 January. The coroner at the inquest in Dudley heard that Azra ran out into the road after a minibus, which she thought was the bus picking children up from the mosque, and was run over a bus which was returning to Dudley Bus Station. The coroner, Victor round, said: "Her death was obviously instantaneous. We all shudder when we think of things like this involving young children. It might have been that she saw the minibus pulling out and ran out after it thinking she was going to miss it. She did not have the experience to be cautious" (Dudley Chronicle, 05.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 7]

 

 

Murdered children buried

The burial of Anjum and Majid Khan, aged nine and fifteen who were killed in an arson attack on their home in Magdalen Road, Oxford, on 26 August finally took place on 8 September. Prayers were said for the murdered children at the Bath Street Mosque. Detectives were persuaded to release the bodies early in the investigation, as soon as a post-mortem could be carried out, to give the children a burial as soon as possible, in line with Islamic law. The chair of the Stanley Road mosque, Mohammed Aslam Khan, negotiated with police. He said: "Our first interest is always to bury the person...This will finally allow the family to be alone and begin to get over their grief. The police gave us the best co-operation and we are very grateful" (Oxford Mail, 08.09.97). So many mourners attended the funeral that prayers had to be said in the field behind the mosque. The children’s elder sister, Shehnaz, told the Oxford Mail (11.09.97): "It has been very hard, very tough - it is our last farewell. They are irreplaceable and life will not be the same without them". Police have made several arrests but so far no-one has been charged with the murder. Muslim News (26.09.97) reports that police have offered a reward of £10,000 for information leading to the capture of the killers and that, "whether this attack was racially, religiously or crime motivated is still not known". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 7]

 

 

Blackburn Qawali

An evening of Islamic sung poetry, or qawali and song, was held to mark the 50th anniversary of Indian and Pakistani Independence in Blackburn library. The performers were Saleem Sabri and Ali Hafiz Khan and Party. The concert was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Blackburn, Peter and Dorothy Greenwood (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 16.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 7]

 

 

Halifax imam interview

The Halifax Evening Courier (13.09.97) carries an in-depth interview with Professor Syed Ahmed Hussain Shah, imam of the Central Madni Mosque in Gibbet Street. Professor Shah, a former lecturer in Islamic studies at Islamabad University in Pakistan, comes from a long line of imams, and hopes that his son will also become an imam. There is also a shorter interview with Haji Mohammed Sultan, general secretary of the Madni Mosque, about the religious and cultural education of Muslim children of Pakistani heritage in Halifax. Such is the demand for Qur’an classes, other religious instruction and lessons in Urdu that the Madni Mosque has recently opened a second Islamic education centre, in Hopwood Lane at a cost of £60,000 and hopes to start a third in the Hyde Park area of Kings Cross. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 7/8]

 

 

Pork served at convention

The management of Birmingham’s International Convention Centre has apologised to Muslims for serving a pork dish at the celebrations of Pakistan’s golden jubilee, recently held at the ICC. Christina Dearing, director of the ICC, said the situation"arose due to our misunderstanding and was entirely unintentional. A pork dish was mistakenly brought out from the kitchens at the commencement of the function. However, the error was noticed immediately and the items were removed without being served to the guests." The ICC was reviewing its training programme to ensure such a mistake is not repeated (Daily Jang, 16.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 8]

 

 

Human rights seminar

Professor Hashim Kamali of the International Islamic University in Malaysia was the keynote speaker at a seminar held in London recently on the theme of human rights in Islam. The seminar was organised by Q-News, the Islamic Texts Society and the Islamic Foundation. Professor Kamali is the author of a new book, Freedom of Expression in Islam. Other speakers included Dr Robert Crane, chief Foreign Policy Advisor to Richard Nixon at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and the author of Human Rights and the essence of Islamic law, and Muhammed Fathi Osman, former editor of the magazine Arabia (Q-News, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 8]

 

 

Police umpires at cricket match

Police were called in to settle a dispute between two cricket teams in Hinckley. The match between Leicester Muslims and Nuneaton Muslims threatened to end in violence. A police spokesman said: "There was some argument about who had won the trophy because scores were ties at the end of the match and there had apparently been some dubious umpiring. I suppose you could say we were called in as the third umpire. No arrests were made and the teams settled the match as a draw and agreed to share the trophy" (Nuneaton Telegraph, 08.09.97, Rugby Telegraph, 08.09.97, Hinckley Times, 11.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 8]

 

 

Nurses in Saudi controversies

A great many diverse views of Muslims on the question of the punishments to which the British nurses Lucille McLauchlan and Deborah Parry may be subjected for killing a fellow nurse in Saudi Arabia have been reported in the press. Lucille McLauchlan has apparently been sentenced to eight years in prison and five hundred lashes and Deborah Parry could face death by beheading unless the family of the murdered woman are willing to accept blood money instead. In Glasgow, Tufail Hussein Shah of the UK Islamic Mission remarked: "If you live in a country, you must respect its laws" and his colleague, Tanzeem Wasti, apparently told the press that, if Britain introduced public executions, the crime rate would fall (Daily Record, 24.09.97). However, Nazir Ahmed, head of the National Forum of British Muslim Councillors, believes the sentences are inhumane and could result in hostility towards British Muslims. He told the Sheffield Star (25.09.97): "I have written a detailed letter to the [Saudi] ambassador asking him to pass it on to the King [Fahd]. I think he will see it and hope something comes of it. I am not asking them to change their laws or religion but this gives a bad impression of Islam, when the decision was down to judge’s discretion...Two million of us in this country then have to live with the stupidity of the decision. They have to live in the 20th century and that also means imposing 20th century sentences for crimes". Similar sentiments were echoed by Zafar Khan, president of the Newcastle Mosque and Islamic Centre and vice-president of the Tyne and Wear REC. He said: "We feel it [the sentence passed on Lucille McLauchlan] is too harsh. I have spoken to a lot of people about it at the mosque and they are upset by the lashing of women. Obviously it will affect Muslims living in Newcastle and people are concerned it will feed Muslim phobia. There was a beheading in Pakistan about six years ago and after that there was a backlash. People tar us all with the same brush and this will do nothing to help us integrate. They do not realise we have been living here for many, many years and our thinking is different than the Saudis" (Newcastle-upon-Tyne Evening Chronicle, 30.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 8/9]

 

 

Funding advice to Muslims

A meeting was planned in Loughborough for 16 October to inform Muslims about other sources of funding for community projects apart from the National Lottery, to which some might have ideological objections (Loughborough Echo, 19.09.97, Loughborough Mail, 25.09.97). Community development worker Yahya Thadha, who is based at the Charnwood Community Council in Loughborough explained: "At present many Muslim communities choose not to apply for large project grants from the National Lottery Charities Board on religious grounds and their decision not to apply has to be respected. However many groups are not so familiar with alternative funders who could possibly help them in funding their project. We want to target all religious groups who make the choice not to apply for Lottery grants by making them aware of alternatives...One such possible alternative could be the English Partnership Community Investment Fund". Yayha Thadha can be contacted on: 01509 224907 (Loughborough Mail, 25.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 9]

 

 

Preston fundraising

Muslims in Preston planned a special meal at £10 per head to raise funds to help the homeless in the town. Preston’s Islamic Society spokesperson, Suhail Ashraf, explained that all money raised from the event will be donated to the Main Junction drop-in centre for young homeless people. He said: "We thought that it is important to be pro-active and do something positive and also to help people who are less fortunate". For more information on Preston Islamic Society contact Suhail Ashraf on 01772 863843 (Lancashire Evening Post, 22.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 9]

 

 

World Service broadcast

Asian Age (24.09.97) and the Church Times (03.10.97) have published a preview and review respectively of a two-part series on BBC World Service radio, called Muslims in Britain, which was broadcast at 7.30am on 26 September and 3 October 1997.The programmes were researched and presented by the BBC’s Middle East expert, Roger Hardy, who is interested in Islamic affairs world-wide. The first programme looked at the recent history of Islam in Britain, with immigration from the Indian sub-continent post World War Two; family reunion in the 1960's and 70's; and the policies of multiculturalism in the 1980's and 1990's. Roger Hardy was particularly keen to investigate the challenges facing and posed by young British Muslims. Talking about youth culture, he said: "It’s hijab and blue jeans - a mixed culture for a significant minority of young Muslims who are trying to express themselves in their own way. They might listen to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Madonna, jungle music, rap and bhangra. The family is still very strong but there are pockets of rebellion. For instance, young people going against arranged marriages and interpreting Islam differently, saying things like there is nothing in Islam to stop them from going to university...It would be wrong to assume that the community is losing its culture and becoming secular. In fact a strong effort is being made to retain culture and identity - among the old because they are worried about losing the young, and among the young because they are worried about losing their identity as British Muslims. They need a glove that will fit their hands, but which will not necessarily be totally western or secular" (Asian Age, 24.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 9]

 

 

Film dropped

Muslim News (26.09.97) reports that Carlton Television decided not to show the US produced film, Not without my daughter. The journalist believes that the decision not to screen the film could be indicative of improved relations between Britain and Iran, and Iran and other countries, following the elections of a new government in Iran. The article concludes: "The dropping of the film followed the ending of anti-Iranian government broadcasts on the now Saudi-owned Spectrum radio and the suspension of its newspaper. After taking office, Iran’s new president Mohammad Khatami repeated calls, which have previously fallen on deaf ears, for Western powers to end their support for anti-Iranian groups, associated with carrying out terrorist attacks in the country". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 9]

 

 

Honour for Birmingham man

The Birmingham Post (27.09.97) carries an interview with Joe Mattiello, a Birmingham man who received the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his voluntary work in the community. Although officially retired, in 1991, after fighting for the government funding and winning it, Joe was appointed director of City Challenge in Aston and Newtown. Although no longer director, he still maintains contact with community projects in Aston. He said of the area and his continuing involvement in it: "There are a lot of races and cultures represented in Aston. The Muslim community, for instance, received funding to build a mosque. Unfortunately they built the four walls and then ran out of money. They needed someone to represent the Muslims in Birmingham who wanted to attend the mosque. I got the job. Everyone paid £5 and after nine weeks we had around £20,000 which was enough to hire someone to raise enough money to finish the mosque". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 9]

 

 

Leeds protest

On 26 September about 200 members of the Kashmiri Muslims Welfare Association in south Leeds held a demonstration to protest against Leeds City Council’s decision to allow a housing association to build on land in Hardy Street which they had hoped would be allocated for premises for a new community centre . Youth worker Siddique Khan said: "A centre is needed more than anything around here. There are a lot of problems for youths and we need somewhere to meet. The existing centre is too small" (Yorkshire Evening Post, 27.09.97). The Muslims have handed the council two petitions with 2,300 signatures on them to the council. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10]

 

 

Prostitution near Luton mosque

Luton South MP, Margaret Moran, has joined the campaign to stop prostitutes soliciting near the Bury Park Mosque. Imam Abdur Rauf said prayers are often disturbed by the noise made by ten to twenty prostitutes and the cars of their potential customers. He said: "They wear next to nothing. You can see parts of their bodies. It is vulgar. They come right near the door and shout as we pray. In Islamic law, prostitution is totally forbidden. It is very bad for our young generation to see this". Mosque secretary Abdul Hussain added: "Once we have finished our prayers we want to get in our cars and go home, but they come close to the cars and ask if we want something. This is a taboo subject for us and it is hard for parents to explain to their children". Inspector Andy Nash of Luton Police said: "We are aware of the complaints. In the last two weeks seven people have been arrested for prostitution. These arrests form part of an ongoing operation which includes targeting particular people to keep the situation under control". Margaret Moran said: "We need to nip this in the bud. I am working closely with the police to resolve this problem". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10]

 

 

Calamus honour

The Calamus Foundation, an organisation which aims to promote understanding between the three Abrahamic faiths, recently made a presentation to Dr Mustafa Ceric, Rais-ul-Ulema of Bosnia, for his services to Bosnia and Herzegovina. At a meeting of the Calamus Foundation, the chair, Mohammed Risaluddin, told the audience how Dr Ceric, the elected Supreme Head of the Bosnian Muslims, had brought together the most senior leaders of the religious communities, that is, the Muslims, the Serbian Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish community, resulting in them all signing a commitment to peace in a public ceremony in Sarajevo on 9 June 1997. Dr Ceric praised Mrs Saba Risaluddin, whose work on behalf of the World Conference on Religions and Peace had also helped bring the four communities together (Daily Jang, 01.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10]

 

 

Restaurant owner pornography campaign

Syed Amir Ali, a 45 year old restaurant owner from Glasgow has contacted his local MP, David Stewart, about ways of controlling or banning sex chat lines. Mr Ali has received a bill from British Telecom for calls made to Ghana and Sierra Leone, where these chat lines operate. He claims that no one from his household made such calls (Q-News, 03.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10]

 

 

‘Islam from within’

An article in Q-News (03.10.97) reviews the Islam from Within weekend, held at the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, Leicestershire from 22 to 24 August. The article was written by Fozia Bora, who, having completed her time as an "apprentice" journalist at Q-News, is now a research student at Wolfson College, Oxford University. The weekend was on the theme of ‘ilm al-tasawwaf, or Sufism. Speakers included Abdul Hakim Murad, Sheikh Nuh Keller, Besa Krasniki, Dr Muhammad Isa Waley, and Imam Hamza Yusuf. Regarding the contribution by Besa Krasniki, Fozia Bora writes: "...Besa Krasniki, a scholar of Hanafi fiqh who gave a special session for the women in the audience, was on hand during the weekend to answer, in her wonderfully learned and authoritative way, our more detailed questions about various aspects of daily religious practice, and she gave us great hope about the prospects for women keen to research aspects of our tradition. When various cultural accretions are stripped away, it is clear that women are as free and able to pursue the Muslim religious sciences as their male counterparts, and Besa Krasniki’s discussions really brought this point home to us". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10]

 

 

Marriage and honour

The Yorkshire Evening Post (02.10.97) carries an interview with "Zena" and "Jack", a married couple from West Yorkshire who have been in hiding, and constantly on the move, for the past five years, because her family have hired an assassin to track them down and kill them. The reason for this is that Zena is a Muslim and Jack is not. The couple wrote to former hostage John McCarthy for support and to their surprise, he offered to help them publish their story. The book, entitled Jack and Zena has just come out and is published by Victor Gollancz, price £15.99. Inspector Stuart Brook, head of the West Yorkshire Police’s Race Relations team, said that every year, increasing numbers of Asian women are consulting the police because they are being forced into arranged marriages. He explained: "What needs saying is that the Asian community in West Yorkshire in general is very honourable and law abiding. What we are talking about here is a very small section of that community...as time goes on there do seem to be more young women coming to us for help for a variety of reasons. These [complaints about coercion and threats regarding marriage and relationships] come from every area of West Yorkshire where there is an Asian community. It is not, as many people think, a matter of religion. They are not dictated to by the Holy Koran, but by family tradition brought to this country. Honour is tremendously important in communities and because West Yorkshire’s Asian communities come predominantly from one Asian area all the families know each other. Anything they feel offends that honour brings shame upon them throughout that community and is felt very deeply. Often the girls come to us at first looking for information and advice and we put them in touch with various groups. We never try to influence them, simply to help. Where a girl or young woman is in obvious danger we contact, according to their age, the social services or in some cases, take them to a place of safety". West Yorkshire Police confirmed that they are aware of the allegations made by Jack and Zena. A spokesperson said: "we are aware in this case and generally that within the Asian community investigators are hired to find people and we have no evidence of anything different here" (Yorkshire Evening Post, 03.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 10/11]

 

 

Education

Sandwell school application

A planning application has been submitted to Sandwell Council for permission to build a residential Muslim school and prayer hall in Guns Lane, West Bromwich on the site of the Umbrako works. The applicants are the Madinatula-Uloom Atislamya, presently based at Elizabeth Road (Sandwell Express & Star, 03.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11]

 

 

Cardiff school move

On 14 September Cardiff’s first Muslim school (see BMMS for August 1997), the Taibah Primary School, moved into its new premises, the former King’s Monkton Primary School in the Roath area of the city (Cardiff Western Mail, 16.09.97). The school has a pupil role of 45, but plans to increase the number to 75 now the move is complete. Fees are a maximum of £110 per term, based on parents’ ability to pay, and there are ten free places. Saleem Kidwai, the school’s treasurer, said the new premises, bought for £275,000 were much more suitable for a school than the old building, which was a former t-shirt factory. He said: "Our previous premises were not suitable. Now we can move to a much larger, well-kept building with a big playground" (South Wales Echo, 03.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11]

 

 

Centre plans approved

The use of a house in Holden Street, Clitheroe, as an Islamic education centre has been approved by the local council’s planning and development committee (see BMMS for July 1997). There had been concerns raised by some residents in the area about car parking, but in their recommendation for approval, councillors pointed out that there was an adjacent car park (Clitheroe Advertiser & Times, 18.09.97). A letter of support for the plan had been sent to Clitheroe council by the Trinity Centre, who expressed the view that all families in the town should have the same opportunities to develop community resources specific to their needs (Clitheroe Advertiser & Times, 11.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11]

 

 

Islamia funding application

The Wembley Observer (11.09.97) has an article about the delay by the Department of Education and Employment (DfEE) in deciding on the Islamia Primary School’s application for state funding (see BMMS for January, June and August 1997). The DfEE had promised that they would decide by July on grant-maintained (GM) status for the school but now say that there will be no decision until January 1998, a year after Islamia made the application following a recommendation from the Funding Agency for Schools. The head teacher, Dr Azam Baig, said: "The situation is getting quite difficult. Each year we run up a £300,00 deficit and to keep going we fundraise or beg money. We need the grant to keep the school going. We have been forced to take more pupils who can afford the fees, but we would rather take on pupils because they are Muslims and willing to learn". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11]

 

 

Islamia planning application

The Islamia Schools Trust wants to build an extension to its facilities in Salusbury Road, Kilburn, to provide a new entrance lobby and reception area. Brent council’s planning department is considering Islamia’s application (Wembley Observer, 25.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11]

 

 

Muslims threaten legal action

Some Muslim parents in Oxford are opposed to the Oxford School being made co-educational and are considering taking legal action to try to force the school to become boys-only again. Monawar Hussain, of the Oxford Muslim Parents and Teachers association, said: "We have had a few meetings and we are still considering taking legal action to reverse the decision". The headteacher of the Oxford School, Mike Langford, was very pleased that his school now admits girls. He commented: "We hope that both boys and girls will achieve as much as possible in the next year both on an individual and collective basis, even though the decision was made right at the last minute. We have completed an extensive building programme, including a complete revamp of the lavatories. There are still other things to come on stream" (Oxford Star, 11.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 11/12]

 

 

Muslim College convocation

Thirty students of Islamic studies and Arabic received their diplomas at the convocation of the Muslim College in London on 15 September. The chair of the college, Mr M A Sherif, told those assembled that misconceptions about Islam existed in the western world and students of the college had a duty to dispel these and to show that Islam is a religion which emphasises living in harmony with people of other faiths. Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the college, stressed that he and his fellow teachers aimed to produce students who would cater to the needs of Muslims in the wider world, particularly young Muslims in Europe and the United States (Daily Jang, 17.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

Bolton school action plan

The new headmaster of the Jamiah Al Islamiyah Darul Uloom in Bolton (see BMMS for January, July and August 1997), the school which had been given 40 days by Ofsted inspectors to come up to standard or be closed has begun to implement an action plan. Manek Mehta, a Zoroastrian who has made drastic improvements to both Jewish and Muslim private schools in the past, outlined his plan to East (17.09.97). He said: "Next year, the sixth form will undergo a rigorous training programme which will prepare them for A levels. We propose to put all 35 students on a foundation year in conjunction with Preston College. During this year, they will study communication and general studies. Additionally, we hope to enter about 20 of our year 11 pupils in five or more GCSE examinations. This will include the core subjects of English, Maths, Science, and the Islamic-based ones which will include Islamic studies, Urdu and Bengali". Mr Mehta has also installed a new science laboratory in the school and has plans to build a larger one later this year. Three new, qualified teachers have been appointed and rigorous testing in the core secular subjects has been implemented. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

Islamic Academy lectures

The Islamic Academy in Cambridge has arranged an exhibition and lectures as part of the National Religious Education Festival. The exhibition is planned for the 6-8 October and will be opened by the mayor of Cambridge, Councillor Daphne Roper (Huntingdon & St Ives Evening News, 17.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

School loses building bid

Walsall’s Muslim girls’ school, the Palfrey Girls’ School, has been disappointed after the building into which it was planning to expand has been bought by a higher bidder. The council-owned Palfrey House has been bought by a firm who are planning to convert the building into flats. Spokesperson for the school, Bashir Logat, said: "We’re going to have to turn down a lot of girls now we can’t move" (Q-News, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

Zakaria school pupil success

Zahida Patel, aged 16, was among the guests invited to see the Foreign Office at work on 19 September. Ms Patel is a student at Zakaria Muslim Girls’ High School in north Kirklees. She said of the visit: "It was a great opportunity to go and it opened up new options which I didn’t think of before". She was surprised to see a Muslim woman working at the Foreign Office who was wearing hijab, and commented: "Seeing her with hijab has given me confidence that I can work there as a Muslim with hijab. Working in the FO, I would be able to meet new people around the world with different culture, life styles and languages. I hope to choose a career with overseas posting" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

RE opt out

Brookhouse Primary School in Blackburn, which has a 100 per cent Muslim population, is applying to continue to be exempt from the regulation which states that collective worship should be of a ‘wholly or broadly’ Christian nature. Five years ago, the school first gained the exemption from Lancashire’s SACRE [the body which overseas religious education and worship in schools in each education authority]. By law, such agreements must be updated every five years. Another school in Brookhouse, Hawthorns School, which has a 95 per cent Muslim population, is applying for a similar exemption for the first time (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 01.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

Mosque opens for National RE Week

The East London Mosque in Whitechapel held an exhibition for schools from 6 to 9 October as part of National RE Week. The organiser was Nozmul, who can be contacted on: 0171 247 1357 (East London Advertiser, 02.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12]

 

 

Arabic A-level threatened?

The exam board Edexcel has dropped A-levels in Arabic, Hebrew and Turkish, claiming they are too expensive to run. Last year, only 120 students took A-level Arabic with the Edexcel board. A spokesperson commented: "Edexcel is a charity and can’t afford the huge cost of running these courses when so few people are taking them". Mona Mohammed, the head of Manchester Islamic High School, said: "The Muslim community is very angry about this. We were planning to introduce Arabic A-level from this September and our Arabic teacher had spent the year preparing a syllabus. Now she will have no job and many students will be unable to study Arabic at university". Nadia Abdelaal of Arabica, a group which promotes the teaching and learning of Arabic in Britain, has formed a committee which is fighting to save the A-level by persuading other boards to consider it". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 12/13]

 

 

Politics

Sarwar update

The Sunday Times Scotland (21.09.97) reported that the police fraud squad expected to have completed its investigation into allegations concerning the Glasgow Govan MP Mohammed Sarwar by the middle of October (see BMMS for March, April, May, June and August 1997). Mr Sarwar has reiterated his claims that three opposition candidates: Peter Paton and Badar Islam, both unofficial Labour, and Jamil Abbasi, unofficial Scottish Conservative, had been acting together against him. On 25 September Jamil Abbasi told the preliminary hearing of an industrial tribunal that he was sacked from his post in the Glasgow offices of Pakistan’s vice-consulate because he stood against Mr Sarwar in the general election (Scotsman, Scottish Daily Mail, 26.09.97). Mr Abbasi worked as an administrative assistant at the offices of the vice-consulate. He told the industrial tribunal that his superiors had warned him not to stand against Mr Sarwar as it would divide the Muslim community. The Vice-Consulate is claiming that it has diplomatic immunity and therefore the tribunal has no jurisdiction in the matter. They did not send a representative to the tribunal. Mr Abbasi said that as a British citizen, paying income tax and National Insurance, he was entitled to have his complaint heard by the industrial tribunal. Mr Abbasi was accompanied by Peter Paton, who is a personal friend, and by his legal representative, Jim Knox of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The chair of the tribunal, Hugh Murphy, postponed making any decision. He said: "This is something I want to think about. The decision will be issued in writing in due course" (Scottish Daily Mail, Scotsman, 26.09.97).

Mr Sarwar recently told the press that a smear campaign was launched against him approximately 18 months ago by Islamic extremists who were angered by his action to save two girls who were kidnapped by their father and taken to Pakistan to be forced to marry against their will. He was reported in the Shropshire Star (20.09.97) and the Wolverhampton Express & Star (20.09.97) as saying in reference to his troubles since that time: "I was set up. I was the victim of a dirty tricks campaign". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 13]

 

 

Interpal on the alert

The premises of a charity in France which is a sister organisation to the London-based Interpal was invaded by six men armed with CS gas on 9 September (see BMMS for March, April, and June 1996; August 1997). The Committee for Solidarity with Palestine in Nancy is France’s largest pro-Palestinian charity (CBSP). In addition to attacking one of the charity workers, the masked men daubed a Star of David on the walls. A group calling itself the Zionist War Group later claimed responsibility. Interpal in London was visited by police from Scotland Yard who assured them that they were monitoring the situation closely (Q-News, 19.09.97). The Jewish Community Security Trust has responded to Muslim fears that France Interpal in London, a sister organisation of CBSP, might also be attacked. Mike Whine of the CST discounted these fears. However, Ibrahim Hewitt, who is the chair of Interpal, said: "Police said they feared some nutcase - either from the Jewish community or claiming to be so - might try and do something and they warned us to be vigilant. There are hotheads within both communities" (Jewish Chronicle, 03.10.97). Jahangir Mohammed, deputy leader of the Muslim Parliament, condemning the attack on the CBSP, said: "This shows that the terrorists amongst the Jewish community are disrupting activities of Muslim charities who are seeking to provide humanitarian aid to the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinians" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 13]

 

 

MP meets Muslims

Bury North MP David Chaytor recently attended a specially convened meeting with his Asian, mainly Muslim, constituents at the town’s Jinnah Centre in Alfred Street. He has promised to hold regular MP’s surgeries there in the future. Also present were Councillors Connie Fitzgerald and Dr Farook Chaudhry, who represent the ward where the Jinnah Centre is located. Among the issues raised at the meeting were hospital waiting lists, immigration, the Kashmir situation, education, student grants, and the lack of home grounds for the Jinnah Centre’s two cricket clubs (Bury Times, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 13]

 

 

UMO dialogue urged

The Labour MP, Keith Vaz, who was recently a guest speaker at a UMO (Union of Muslim Organisations) meeting, urged the secretary of the UMO, Syed Aziz Pasha, to enter into dialogue with the Labour government. He said: "The UMO has a great opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary to (discuss) the way you think the Muslim community should be a part of this country". Keith Vaz, himself a Christian, reiterated his long-held view on the state funding of Muslim schools: "The Muslim community ought to be treated like other religions when it comes to the application for funding for schools" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 13/14]

 

 

Racism

Islamophobia update

An article on the subject of Islamophobia appears in the Guardian (27.09.97) by Dr Kate Zebiri, Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the University of London and author of the book Muslims and Christians Face To Face, available from OneWorld, Oxford (see BMMS for February, March, April, May and July 1997). She compares and contrasts Islamophobia with anti-Semitism. She continues: "As became clear in the Rushdie Affair, for many Muslims an attack on their religion feels like an attack on them personally. This is in part because Islam represents the environment and culture in which they have been nurtured - an inseparable part of their identity. However, with developments in education and communications, a more unified and clearly delineated form of Islamic identity is gaining ground. Where in the past being a Muslim may have been something into which one was born and which one took for granted, it is now thought of as a conscious decision to adhere to a normative set of beliefs and practices". She forecasts a weakening of the link between ethnicity and religion where British Islam is concerned and concludes: "It remains to be seen how British Islam will develop in years to come. Inevitably it will take diverse forms, since Muslims do not have a centralised religious authority which could impose uniform interpretations of the faith. Be that as it may, Muslims’ growing confidence, as they become more established in Britain, is likely to provoke much soul-searching on the part of the churches as they tackle the thorny issue of the role of religious faith in social and political life". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 14]

 

 

Hoax poster campaign

Posters in Denton urging residents to protest against the conversion of a bingo hall into a mosque, are a hoax, probably perpetrated by a group with racist intentions. A council spokesperson said: "No planning application has been received by the council. It’s a hoax. We are aware that people are being asked to sign a petition against such a proposal and that posters are being displayed around Denton. But we repeat it is a hoax. We are very concerned that misinformation is being circulated in the name of Tameside Council and we are looking into it" (Ashton Advertiser, 04.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 14]

 

 

Discrimination claim

Mohammad Tahir, of Hermitage Walk, South Woodford is claiming that the Home Office acted in a discriminatory way when they refused visitors’ visas to relatives from Pakistan who wanted to attend his nephew’s wedding in August. The visa application was refused, in spite of support from Mr Tahir’s local MP, Harry Cohen. Waltham Forest Race Equality Council (REC) has taken up the case and has written to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw about it. Munir Khan, director of the REC, said: "There appears to be religious discrimination and double standards being adopted by the Home Office in its policies". He pointed to the case of the trainee priests from Africa and Asia who were initially denied an entry visa for an eight-week visit in August. After a public outcry, the government ordered a review of the case and the decision was reversed. Mr Khan commented: "The sponsors [Mr Tahir and other family members in Britain] believe that the reason for intervention in the case of the Catholic visitors was because they belonged to the Catholic faith, whereas visitors coming from Islamabad belonged to another religious faith...Their [the Pakistani friends and relatives wanting to visit Mr Tahir in Britain] fate remains in one Entry Clearance Officer’s hand as no visitor appeal system exists at present. This is unjustified and against the principles of natural justice" (Wanstead & Woodford Redbridge Guardian, 25.09.97). An appeal system against the refusal of visitors’ visas was one of the Labour Party’s pre-general election promises.  [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 14]

 

 

Attack on Muslim

Heroin addict Peter Dickinson was found guilty of assaulting a fellow prisoner at Armley Prison in Leeds and was imprisoned for a further 33 months. Dickinson was annoyed by his fellow prisoner, Naseer Hussein, saying his prayers. He taunted his fellow prisoner about his prayers and used racial insults against him. He then hit him with is fists and a chair, causing cuts which needed treatment. The prosecutor was Ms Aisha Jamil, who pointed out that Dickinson had a history of convictions for racially motivated attacks as well as other offenses. Steven Garth, defending, said that the cause of Dickinson’s violent behaviour was his heroin addiction: "At the time of the assault in the prison he was suffering from heroin withdrawal and was extremely irritable" (Daily Jang, 03.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 14]

 

 

Women

Kidnap and rape update

Police are still hunting for the men who abducted an 18 year old Asian Muslim woman in broad daylight from a busy street in northwest London on 2 July and repeatedly raped her (see BMMS for August 1997). A £5,000 reward for information leading to the capture of the rapists has been offered by the London branch of Young Muslims UK but even so, police have made little headway in their investigation. They have now issued photo-fit pictures of the attackers and another Muslim group, Defenders of the Faith, has made posters of the images. A spokesperson for the group said: "We have printed a couple of thousand posters and are going to put them everywhere. The police have drawn a blank so far, so we are trying to help them out". Detective Constable Freeburn, who is leading the investigation by Paddington CID said: "We welcome the efforts of these community groups, and hope together we can capture the culprits" (Eastern Eye, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 14/15]

 

 

Nottingham courses

The Muslim Women’s Organisation, based at the Lodge in Ilkeston Road, Nottingham, is offering a range of courses to women, including computing, child care, sewing, Arabic, Urdu GCSE and A-level and Asian cookery. Further information may be had from Nottingham 942 0590. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Lottery grants

The Disabled Muslim Women’s Association of Redbridge has received a grant for £117,410, spread over three years, from the National Lottery (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, Wanstead & Woodford Redbridge Guardian, 25.09.97). Spokesperson Bashir Chaudhry said: "I am over the moon with the news. We currently help about 25 women and meet once or twice a week. This grant means we can expand. Our first task is to teach the women English. Once they have mastered that, they can learn a variety of skills" (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 25.09.97). The Jamait-al-Nissa Muslim Women’s Group of Wood Green has also been awarded a three-year grant from the National Lottery Charities Board, of £185,000. The group offers training leading to qualifications such as the NVQ, courses in running one’s own business, information technology training, literacy and English language classes (Hornsey & Crouch End Journal, 25.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Welfare advice offered

The Muslim Women’s Organisation of Radford, Nottinghamshire, has welfare advice sessions, training courses and Friday prayers for Muslim women. For further information contact Noama Negyal at The Lodge, 165a Ilkeston Road, Radford or phone: 942 0590. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Female genital mutilation

The Observer (05.10.97) has an article on so-called female "circumcision", or genital mutilation in Britain, a practice which has been specifically outlawed since 1985, when the Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act came into being. The Observer, however, claims that a Manchester GP, Dr Abdul Baten Jalal Ahmed, and Hoji Abdul, who comes from the Yemen and is a steelworker living in Sheffield, carry out genital mutilation on young female children. Their activities are exposed in a Channel Four documentary, called Cutting the Rose, a euphemism for the practice, which ranges from removing the head of the clitoris to the complete excision of the clitoris and the removal of all the external sex organs. The Observer reporter comments that: "It serves no medical purpose and can lead to haemorrhage, infection, severe gynaecological and birth complications, septicaemia and even death...Although many cite religious motivations, Islamic scholars deny it is demanded by the Koran - the practice predates Islam. The more accepted belief is that it is still demanded in male-dominated cultures to preserve female chastity and, supposedly, to heighten male pleasure". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Youth

Muslim trainee reporter

Zahoor Yasin, a young Muslim who spent a fortnight on work experience at the Keighley News has had an article published by that newspaper (Keighley News, 29.08.97). His article compares Christmas and Eid and outlines other similarities between Islam and Christianity. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Interfaith

Church buildings controversy

East (03.09.97) reports on the controversy sparked off by remarks by the Archdeacon of Aston, Birmingham, concerning the sale of a Church of England church to Muslims (see BMMS for August 1997). John Barton was quoted in the Daily Telegraph (28?.08.97) as saying that the sale of St Oswald’s in Small Heath, Birmingham, "might be a signal that Islam has taken over from Christianity around here". The Venerable John Barton appeared to be telling East that he had been quoted out of context. He said: "These comments appearing as they did would seem to be wholly inappropriate and undoubtedly caused tensions in the area. Of course bids from Muslims or any other faith in the area would be more than welcome, although I doubt they would be interested anyway...My stance is that of the Church of England who naturally would prefer a Christian place of worship to go Christians. Muslims who are ordinary law-abiding citizens are not taking over this country and they must be sick of being seen in this way". Q-News (19.09.97) carried an article discussing John Barton’s remarks in the wider context of declining numbers of worshippers in Anglican churches and rising numbers in mosques. In this article, Q-News quotes Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament: "This is the kind of behaviour one associates with retreating armies who destroy property so that it does not fall into enemy hands. The Church is singling out Muslims because they fear the growth of Islam. In half a decade practising Muslims will outnumber practising Anglicans and the state Church is running scared". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 15]

 

 

Bishop visits Pakistan

The Bishop of Bradford, David Smith, is hoping to learn how Christians and Muslims live together in Pakistan when he travels there on 12 October. He will be accompanied by Ishtiaq Ahmed, director of the Race Equality Council in Bradford. The idea for the visit grew from Christian-Muslim links when leaders of both faith communities in Bradford wrote to the acting High Commissioner for Pakistan when Christian property was destroyed during mob violence in Shanti Nagar, Multan District, last February. Mr Ahmed and the Bishop hope to go to Shanti Nagar to see the rebuilding of the damaged areas and communal relations. The Bishop said: "We would like to offer support to the Government of Pakistan in this work and to human rights organisations. We wish to reinforce the many existing links that build mutual understanding. All four [sic] of us will also be very willing to share the experience of how Christians and Muslims have worked together in Bradford". Mr Ahmed said: "I am looking forward to joining the Bishop on this visit. His decision to go to Pakistan speaks volumes for the strength of the Muslim-Christian relationship in Bradford. I am certain that the visit will help to encourage and consolidate dialogue and co-operation between the two communities in Pakistan" (Bradford Star, 02.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16]

 

 

Halal

Halal meals in Slough

Sikhs in Slough have sent an open letter to Councillor Geoff Cutting, leader of Slough Borough Council, via the Slough and Langley Observer (05.09.97, also printed in the Ascot and Sunningdale Observer, 05.09.97) claiming that the Councillor Nazar Lodhi was exceeding his authority and acting undemocratically, in allegedly promising Muslims that halal meat would be served in all schools in Slough, that Muslim girls would not have to wear school uniform and that swimming lessons would be single sex (see BMMS for August 1997). The representatives of two Sikh organisations, the Sri Guru Singh Sabha and the Ramgarhia Sabha argued in their letter that: "...it was quite wrong for an individual councillor to make such promises when the policy of the unitary authority would only be formed after the committees came into being." The Slough & Langley Observer (05.09.97) took up the issues raised in the letter in an article. In this article, Swaran Singh Chaggar, ex-president of the Woodlands Avenue Ramgarhia Sabha Sikh temple, was quoted: "We were surprised at his demands for just one community. He is an elected councillor for the whole community, so he should look out for the interests of the whole community, not just one community". Councillor Lodhi, who is also chair of the Slough Race Equality Council, affirmed that he would continue to work for the rights of all communities, not only Muslims: "I will push for the needs of Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Jews - I will fight for everybody’s needs". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16]

 

 

Officers threatened

A Birmingham butcher threatened trading standards officers with a meat cleaver after selling them false halal meat. Complaints had been received that Mohammed Kassim, owner of the Arabian Butcher Store, was passing off non-halal meat as halal. Two trading standards went to the shop and bought some lamb, which Mr Kassim insisted was halal and that this was proven by its stamp. The officers bought the meat, inspected the stamp, and found it to be false. When the officers returned to the shop to confront Mr Kassim, he threatened them with a meat cleaver, forcing them to leave. Mohammed Kassim was found guilty by Birmingham magistrates of two charges under the trades description Act and one charge of obstructing an officer. Sentencing was adjourned (Q-News, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16]

 

 

Health

Highland Islamic Clinic

A patient of the Highland Islamic Clinic (see BMMS for May 1996 and August 1997) has written to the Inverness Courier (29.08.97) praising the clinic and criticising the newspaper’s reporting of the institution on 22 August. Ewen McPherson writes of the doctors: "They ask only for a donation for treatment, as great or as small as the patient can afford. They have never proselytised their faith to me and have always been fully open and willing to discuss any aspect of Islam and the Western perception of the Muslim world". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16]

 

 

Directions sought in hospital

Muslim patients at the Royal Free Hospital in north London have been asking the direction of Mecca, in order to face that way for prayers, so staff have produced arrowed maps for all wards indicating the direction of the holy city. Jill Felton, service development manager, explained: "We felt we needed to do something specific to cater for their needs. We worked out where Mecca was with a compass and in consultation with a Moslem adviser we have. It was part of an initiative to give nurses some practical advice and guidance on how to make patients from other cultures as comfortable as possible here" (Daily Mail, 13.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16]

 

 

Anti-smoking campaign

The Health Education Authority has recently published research which claims that 49 per cent of Muslims in Britain smoke. Smoking is particularly prevalent amongst Bangladeshi men aged 50 to 74 years old, with 65 per cent of this group smoking. A free phone counselling service has now been set up to help Asians stop smoking. It is called the Asian Quitline and has counsellors who speak five languages: Bengali 0800 002244, Gujerati 0800 002255, Hindi 0800 002266, Punjabi 0800 002277 and Urdu 0800 002288 (East, 17.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 16/17]

 

 

HIV/AIDS prevention

Communicare NHS Trust’s HIV prevention team recently organised a seminar to make Muslim leaders in Blackburn and surrounding areas more aware of the need for potentially life-saving advice to prevent the spread of AIDS within their communities. Prevention Team member Tahir Hussain explained: "We live with this myth that HIV and AIDS does not affect the Asian community. But we have clients within that community who are HIV positive. The Muslim faith does not allow pre-marital and extra-marital sex, drug-taking or homosexuality but we have to realise that these things take place. Young Asians are increasingly going to nightclubs, drinking alcohol and having sex. But their families think they are not at risk from HIV and AIDS because they cannot believe their children would do things against their religion" (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 04.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Mental health information

For Friday 10 October, World Mental Health Day, the Muslim Women’s Helpline planned to hold an information stall at the London Central Mosque, Regent’s Park. A spokesperson commented on the helpline’s statistics regarding phone calls received in the past year: "The 43% of calls ostensibly unrelated to mental health issues in fact belie the reality that women with unresolved personal, social and family problems, women suffering loneliness and women suffering emotional or physical abuse, sometimes also have mental health problems". She continued: "There is little knowledge amongst the community about the roles of different professionals responsible for mental health and due to cultural and religious misunderstanding and stereotyping, individuals are more likely to be misdiagnosed and prescribed physical treatments such as anti-depressants, rather than appropriate psychological support" (Muslim News, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Coventry health plan

Q-News (03.10.97) reports that the Muslim Resource Centre in Foleshill, Coventry, is working in collaboration with the city council and the local health authority on plans to improve access to health care for Muslims in the area. The Muslim Resource Centre was the focus of controversy last year, when it was successful in gaining a grant of £430,000 from the National Lottery. The local community also raised £30,000 itself for the centre’s health projects. [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Carers conference

A conference which aimed to raise consciousness about the special needs of Asian carers was recently held in Bradford. Carers and university researchers attended the event, organised by the Asian Carers Forum of Bradford. Councillor Mike Young, chair of Bradford’s Social Services committee, explained: "Asian careers have special needs because of language, cultural and religious differences. The aim of this conference is to raise their profile and make their concerns known. Special workshops will focus on creating action plans for making the support and services available more responsive to their needs". One of the speakers was Nusrat Muhammad, of Bradford’s Young Asian Carers Group (Daily Jang, 06.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor burials

Gwynedd claims that it will be the first county in North Wales to set aside space for Muslim burials. County councillors decided on 25 September to agree in principle to a request by the Islamic Society of Bangor to create a Muslim section of a local cemetery. Councillors and officials will now meet representatives of the local community to discuss the details of the application (Liverpool Daily Post, Welsh edition, 26.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Bishops Stortford, Hockerill Street

Bishops Stortford’s town council has objected to revised plans for a mosque and madrasa to be built in Hockerill Street (see BMMS for January and February 1997). Councillor Keith Barnes, who was at the planning committee meeting, explained that traffic congestion was a major concern: "The same thing would have been said if plans had been proposed by the Church of England - it is totally inappropriate for a shopping area. Large amounts of people will be coming and going at the same time causing traffic problems, not so much in Hockerill Street but for the residents of Crown Terrace [at the rear of the proposed site]". Dilwar Ahmed, president of the Herts and Essex Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, responded: "This is a ridiculous decision - how will there be a traffic problem when we will only be using it three times a week? Four or five cars will be dropping off between 15 to 20 children on Saturday and Sunday mornings and picking them up again in the afternoon. A maximum of 20 adults will use the centre every Friday afternoon for just one and a half hours" (Bishops Stortford Citizen, 10.09.97). The matter has been referred to East Herts District Council for a final decision (Herts & Essex Observer, 11.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 17]

 

 

Blackburn, Oak Street

In spite of meetings between the Muslim Hanfi Sunni Association, the proposers of plans for a new mosque in Oak Street, Bastwell (see BMMS for July and August 1997), and town planners from Blackburn with Darwen Council, it seems likely that council officials will advise the planning sub-committee to reject the resubmitted application. Although the Muslim association have scaled down their original design, planners believe that it would still be out of keeping with the surrounding buildings, and that there are insufficient parking places. No objections have been sent to the town hall, even though local residents and businesses were asked for their views (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 18.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Bromley, Penge High St

The trustees of Bromley’s Islamic Community Centre are appealing against the council’s decision to close the centre, which is primarily used for worship. The planning department say that the change of use goes against local planning policy, and that there is nowhere for visitors to park. A spokesperson for the centre said that most people attending prayers walk to the centre and that there is no other comparable facility for Muslims in the borough (Bromley & Beckenham Times, Chislehurst Times, 25.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Forest Gate, Katherine Road

The application to turn premises in Katherine Road in Forest Gate, east London, into an Islamic cultural centre is presently being considered by the local planning department (City of London Recorder, 05.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Gaywood, Lynn burials

A borough councillor in West Norfolk, Ivor Harley, believes that the higher charges levied for Saturday burials are discriminatory towards Muslims. He explained to a recent council environment services committee meeting that Islam requires that Muslims be buried within 24 hours of death and added: "In the interests of equal opportunities, I believe there should be a set rate for burials even if they are held outside the gravediggers’ normal hours". At present, a Saturday burial costs up to 75 per cent more than the normal charge of £400. After the meeting, Mr Harley said: "I believe ethnic minorities should get the same treatment as those of a Christian faith and pay no extra, provided they live in the borough" (Lynn News, 30.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Ilford, Albert Rd

A family doctor whose surgery adjoins Albert Road, where there is a site on which both the VHP Hindu Centre and the Albert Road Islamic Centre would like to build, says that his surgery needs the land for expansion. Dr Vic Crowhurst of Ilford Medical Centre, explained that his surgery currently had 20,000 people on its database and might have to decrease that number if more surgery space is not available. The Hindu Centre and the Islamic Centre plan to buy a fifth of an acre each on the Albert Road/Mildmay Road site. Dr Crowhurst was of the opinion that, with the two place of worship so close to each other, there would inevitably be arguments, which would "undoubtedly turn into physical fighting" (Ilford Recorder, 25.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Leicester, Evington Drive

Planning permission in principle has been granted to the Evington Muslim Education Trust to build a new mosque and madrassah on their existing site in Evington Drive. Concerns have been expressed by local residents, some councillors and planning officials regarding parking space and possible traffic congestion. These concerns, amongst others, have been addressed in the conditions imposed. Mike Richardson, Development Control Group Manager at Leicester City Council said: "The applicants must amend vehicle access from Evington Lane to Evington Drive. They must also provide more information on the material to be used for the gold coloured dome as councillors were concerned it must be to a high standard and not be allowed to fade as a similar one in the city. The applicants must also make a legal agreement for traffic management proposals namely parking restrictions on Evington Drive and Lane and covering the landscaping of the triangle of land outside the mosque" (Leicester Trader, 18.09.97). Speaking on behalf of the Trust, Geoff Warren from the architects’ firm Kent, Porter, Warren said: "We are very pleased with the outcome of the planning application to provide a purpose built mosque for the Evington Community. This is a much needed facility and will enhance the local environment with a prestigious landmark building" (Leicester Trader, 18.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

London, Battersea, MBC Studios

Staff at MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Company) Studios in Silverthorne Road, Battersea have signed a petition asking for a mosque to be built next to the broadcasting station. Part of the car park at the site could be used to build a mosque, which would comprise 150 square metres (Wimbledon News, Wandsworth Borough News, 12.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18]

 

 

Manor Park, Church Road

Planning permission for a mosque in Church Road, Manor Park (see BMMS for February, March, May and July 1996), has been rejected. There were two petitions with a total of 202 signatures against the Muslim association’s plans and 23 letters of objection. The objectors expressed concern over potential additional traffic and parking problems (City of London Recorder, 12.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 18/19]

 

 

Ravensthorpe, Crawshaw St

The mosque in Ravensthorpe is to have a second storey added so that it can accommodate up to 600 people. The work on the mosque will be completed at the end of October and also includes living accommodation for an imam. Mohammed Tuyeb, spokesperson for the mosque, explained: "When we built the mosque 12 years ago, we had it passed as a double-storey but didn't have the money at that time" (Dewsbury Reporter, 29.08.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Rochdale, Castlemere

News of the progress in building the new Markazi Masjid founded by the Idara taleem-ul-Islam (see BMMS for February 1997), on the site of the former Castlemere Community Centre has appeared in the Rochdale Observer (27.09.97). The article about the new mosque is one of several news items written by pupils of Matthew Moss School in Rochdale, as part of the Observer’s Newspapers in Education Scheme. The young reporter writes that the mosque’s design is based on that of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, a mosque especially important to Muslims "because they believe that the Prophet Mohammed flew to Jerusalem to Mecca in one night and from there he went to heaven". [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Smethwick, Halfords Lane

The Smethwick Bangladeshi Muslim Welfare Association is asking for planning permission to build an extension to their mosque in Halfords Lane (Sandwell Express & Star, 01.10.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Southall Park, Park View Rd

The Abu Bakr Muslim group in Ealing is still without permanent premises for a mosque (see BMMS for March and May 1997). They withdrew from negotiations concerning a derelict youth facility on Park View Road because the council said that the proposed Islamic centre could only be single-storey, with a capacity of up to 160 people, and that there would be a six-month "probationary period". Abdul Shahid, a spokesperson for the mosque, said: "the council insisted on a six-month contract before selling outright. We got fed up with this - now we will look for somewhere else. Pulling out was an upsetting but necessary decision" (Ealing & Acton Gazette, 05.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Walsall burials

A lack of space for Muslim burials in Walsall could mean that Muslims have to use Sandwell's cemetery, at three times the cost (see BMMS for April 1996). A burial in Walsall costs £512 but neighbouring Sandwell charges those who are not residents of the borough £1,720. A report by Tony Hook, Walsall's environmental general services manager, warns that: "Once James Bridge [cemetery] is full an alternative would be to arrange for a burial in the nearest cemetery, about a mile away, at Fallings Heath, Wednesbury, which is owned by Sandwell Council. They have a policy of increasing all fees for non-inhabitants of the borough...It is not possible to extend the [Walsall] cemetery, as a canal, railway line and public highways form its immediate boundaries". Talks are being held with Walsall's Muslim leaders to discuss the problem (Birmingham Post, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Waltham Forest burials

Waltham Forest Council has decided to allow a Muslim burial site to expand onto nearby football pitches. The council accepted the request for expansion from the Muslim Burial Trust after hearing that the Muslim burial ground in Folly Lane would soon be full. They had calculated that up to 750 new graves would be needed by the year 2000 (Q-News, 19.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

West Ealing, Eccleston Rd

A certificate has been granted to the Muslim Welfare Association in West Ealing to allow their property in Eccleston Road to continue to be used for religious, educational and community purposes (see BMMS for March 1996). The council has also agreed that the back garden can be used for Friday lunchtime prayers and for gatherings at two annual festivals. The council finally accepted the Muslims' claim that they had been using the building for religious purposes for at least ten years, which meant the local authority had less power in the matter. Abdul Hadi of the Muslim group said: "I'm relieved and very pleased we've finally got permission. We should have had it a long time ago" (Ealing & Acton Gazette, 12.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

West Hendon, Brent View Rd

Existing planning regulations have been relaxed to permit worshippers at the Hendon Islamic Centre to pray half an hour before sunrise, in spite of council officers recommending refusal of extended hours (see BMMS for August 1997). A councillor for the West Hendon ward in which the mosque is situated, Nicholas Kissen, said in support of the Hendon Islamic Centre: "I think that they have done a tremendous job with what was a dilapidated building. Each application has to be decided on its merits". Permission has been given for one year, and will be reviewed in August 1998. Councillor Jeremy Davies said: "It needs to be closely monitored by planning officers so that the conditions are being adhered to. I know that the officers have put forward that it should be refused but we have to consider the balance of the community and its needs" (Edgware & Mill Hill Times, 04.09.97). [BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 19]

 

 

Woodford Bridge burials

The Redbridge Ahmadiyya Muslim Association has been allocated separate space for Muslim graves in the Roding Lane North cemetery at Woodford Bridge. The group estimated that there would be between ten and twenty burials a year. The council heard that the cemetery is at present under-used and so sufficient space could be allocated for burials for the next sixty years (Wanstead & Woodford Redbridge Guardian, 18.09.97).[BMMS September 1997 Vol. V, No. 9, p. 20]

 

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