British Muslims Monthly Survey for April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Southall update 

Sheep slaughter controversy 

Liverpool school merger 

Nike shoes controversy 

 

 

Reports

 

Community

Eid stories 

Finance developments 

Poisoner case 

Football update 

Rushdie update 

Oxford centre 

Millennium celebrations 

Sufi music 

MCB letters 

Nuneaton centre plans 

Islamic Relief tour 

Tipton grant 

Plans for July celebration 

Pakistan National Day 

Ahmadiyya meeting 

Yorkshire scam 

Holy vegetables again!! 

Deportation battle 

Islam discussion 

Aga Khan title threat? 

Oath rebuke 

Media awards 

Islam and media discussion 

Islamic mission interview 

Death of London-based poet 

Uxbridge plans 

Ahmadiyya Eid 

Shelton charity gift 

Faith in prison 

Kirklees social services plans 

Qur’an event planned 

Art auctions 

 

 

Education

Muslim school funding 

Luton house plans

Coventry schools 

Arabic lessons 

College planning application 

Mixed swimming protest 

Glasgow Muslim school 

College prayer room fight 

Oxford day school 

Oadby school anniversary 

Fight to save madrasa 

Muslim children in Cornwall 

 

 

Politics

Dissidents in UK 

Iraq sanctions 

G8 Summit contribution 

Stickers investigation 

Passover gift 

Councillors defect 

Leicester mayor gift 

Prime minister comment 

 

 

Rasicm

Crime and Disorder Bill 

Race relations appointments 

Councillor denounces racism 

 

 

Women

Muslim women study 

Nuneaton fund raising 

Married bliss? 

 

 

Youth

Young women’s view of racism 

Ahmadiyya charity fundraising 

Muslim Youth League office 

 

 

Interfaith

Grimsby Eid celebrations 

 

 

Halal

Abattoir planning application 

Jail provision controversy 

Muslims and organic food 

 

 

Health

Free circumcision call 

Prayer room created 

Shiatsu and Islam 

 

 

Employment

Prayer at Fox’s? 

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bishop Stortford, Hockerill St 

Blackburn, Willow St 

Blackpool, Central Drive 

Bradford, Darfield St 

Bury, Parker St and Walmersley Road 

Coventry burials 

Crawley, Broadfield 

Halifax, Hopwood Lane 

Kettering, Grasmere Rd 

Luton burials 

Luton, Bury Park Rd 

Lye 

Northgate 

Palmers Green, Oakthorpe Rd 

Portsmouth, Victoria Rd North 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust 

South Shields, Baring St 

Trafford, St Bride St 

Walthamstow burials 

Wood Green burials 

 

 

 

Features

Southall update

Far fewer arrests were made by Southall police at the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi and the Muslim festival of Eid this year as compared with last (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for February, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and December 1997 and March 1998). At Eid-ul-Adha this year, police arrested 13 Muslims for disorder and threatening behaviour, compared with 50 last year. Around 20 Sikhs were arrested at this year’s Vaisakhi celebrations, compared with 40 last year. Most arrests at these festivals are for disorderly behaviour or drunkenness. In addition, police believe they averted possible violence by promptly dispersing a group of young Sikhs who had gathered outside the Lancaster Hall on Lancaster Road, where Muslims were holding a meeting. Police commander Superintendent Mike Smythe said: "The Sikhs were gathered with the intention of going into the hall. We found out what was going on and prevented this happening". Speaking of the difficulties of policing public events which might end in communal violence, Mike Smythe said: "All we can do is try and minimise the amount of disorder. We can’t put a wall around the town. The main Vaisakhi events, including the procession and the fair, were excellent and very well attended. It is a shame that young people have to take to the streets in this way". Sohan Singh Sumra, vice-president of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple said: "Boys will be boys, whether they are Muslims or Sikhs. As far as the community as a whole is concerned, we are one" (Southall Gazette, 17.04.98).

On 30 March Channel Four showed "The Peacemaker", a documentary filmed over several weeks last year, which showed the efforts of Dudley Weeks, an international peacekeeper, who was trying to help young Sikhs and Muslims in Slough resolve their conflicts (South Bucks & Burnham Express, 26.03.98, Rossendale Free Press, Southall Gazette, Accrington Observer, 27.03.98, Rochdale Observer, 28.03.98). Mukesh Solenki, a youth and community worker in Slough who appears in the film and co-operated with the programme makers, felt that, although there had been some positive results from the exercise, on the whole it was an opportunity missed. He told the South Bucks & Burnham Express (26.03.98): "With the presence of Dudley and Channel Four pumping money into it, it was a real opportunity to create some kind of peace and alliance. It has given a platform for people to speak and make a connection but at the end of the day, it is a film. It was a wonderful opportunity but it was missed. I came away thinking we could have done more... I have a lot of respect for Dudley. He shows there is a will among these groups, who have a desire to get together and not to fight". Mr Weeks, who has worked as an independent mediator in over 90 countries, including Bosnia, Northern Ireland and South Africa, returned to Slough in February this year to give classes in peaceful conflict resolution. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 1]

 

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Sheep slaughter controversy

A great many local newspapers have reported on the planned ritual slaughter of 60 sheep at S. Macer’s Farm on the A129 Brentwood to Billericay Road. Animal rights groups, including Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA and Viva, alerted the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) to the planned open-air sacrifice but were told the event had been cancelled. The animal rights groups were suspicious that this was not the case, as they were aware that the sheep had been specially purchased and transported to the farm during the night preceding Eid. As the killing began, the animal rights activists stormed the barn where the slaughtering was taking place and the Muslims fled. Angela Petro, a campaigner from Kent Action Against Live Exports, said: "We saw the metal cradle with fresh blood on it and there was also fresh blood on the yard so we know the animals were killed. Words can’t describe how I feel about this but we did manage to save some sheep because the Muslims left when they saw us" (Brentwood Weekly News, 10.04.98). Over 50 sheep were in a nearby field.

At Palmer’s farm near Upminster protestors were unsuccessful at stopping the slaughter of 1,200 sheep for the Eid sacrifice. Police were out in force to keep the peace between Muslims who were slaughtering their animals and the animal rights protestors (Romford, Hornchurch & Upminster Recorder, 10.04.98). Many of the national papers have concentrated more on the calls for a ban on the live export of animals for Eid slaughter in France (Guardian, 02.04.98), (see BMMS for March 1998). However, the Mirror (08.04.98), reporting on the outdoor slaughter in Billericay and one inside a slaughterhouse in Cranmer, Essex, where Muslims could kill the animal themselves, said: "An RSPCA spokesman said the practice was outlawed in the EU and called for a ban in Britain".

Muslims at the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in Northolt have denied rumours that they were going to sacrifice animals on the premises at Eid-Ul-Adha. A spokesperson for the mosque, which was opened last year by Prince Charles, said: "Everybody just spent the day praying. There is no foundation to any of these rumours. We do not sacrifice animals in this country". Hazel Furzer, of Court Farm Road, Northolt, whose husband Bernard Furzer had been one of the leaders of the campaign opposing the mosque, said: "We were just concerned because there had been certain rumours going around, and the mosque was not licensed to slaughter animals" (Greenford & Northolt Gazette, 10.04.98).

Following these events there has been much subsequent comment in the press, often in the form of letters to the editor (Romford Recorder, 17.04.98, Billericay & Wickford Gazette, Burnley Citizen, 23.04.98, Romford Recorder, 24.04.98). Most of the correspondents are opposed not only to the events at Eid, where some Muslims who are not trained as butchers slaughtered the animals they had bought, but to all halal killing of animals, because, in Britain at least, it is carried out without pre-stunning. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 1/2]

 

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Liverpool school merger

The proposal to merge Tiber and Granby Primary Schools and to create a new school with a predominately Islamic ethos on the site of St Bernard’s RC Primary out of all three schools (see BMMS for February 1998) continues to have its vociferous proponents and opponents (Liverpool Echo, 30.03.98, 01.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). The chair of Liverpool’s education committee, Councillor Neville Bann, said: "I think it is an exciting project and we need to get all concerned parties to speak to each other about the provision of a school that all members of the community will want to support". However, David Leach, chair of Tiber Street School governors and a former Labour councillor, opposed the plan: "We are against the removal of any county primary school provision from the area" (Liverpool Echo, 01.04.98). Councillor Bann told Muslim News (24.04.98): "The intention is to open a new school in which Muslims will, for the first time, as of right, have a say in the governance of the proposed school. This is a very innovative idea, in which all sections of the community, Muslim, Christian and those who have no belief, will be able to work together to produce a first class school".

The Guardian (29.04.98) has published details of how the school will function. Vivek Chaudhary, education correspondent, explains: "The school is due to open in September next year to cater for up to 420 pupils aged between 5 and 11 in the inner city Granby area, where most of the city’s Muslim community lives. It will be open to all faiths, but its timetable will include regular Islamic assemblies, the teaching of Islamic history, and religious education with an emphasis on Islam. It will offer food suitable for Muslim pupils, and give holidays for Muslim festivals. An attempt will be made to have a significant number of Muslim school governors". Ann Melville of the Liverpool authority said: "This will not be a grant maintained or a Muslim school. It will be a regular, local authority administered school with an Islamic ethos. We will have the same admissions policy as we have for our other schools. There is a significant Muslim population in the Granby and Toxteth area of Liverpool and we wanted to have a school that reflected the make-up of the area where full recognition is given to the Islamic faith". Akram Khan-Cheema, an education consultant involved in setting up the school said: "It is a very exciting and imaginative proposal. The school will not just be for Muslims and will offer something for the whole community, regardless of their religion. It will give others a chance to see what an Islamic ethos is all about". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 2]

 

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Nike shoes controversy

Trainers manufactured by Nike with a logo which resembles the Arabic word for Allah are once again on sale in Britain (see BMMS for April and June 1997), a year after protests by Muslims forced the company to withdraw them from sale worldwide (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 17.04.98, 18.04.98, 20.04.98). The shoes were discovered by Zafar Afsar, aged 20, a student who works part-time at JJB Sports in Bradford. He discovered that, under a peelable sticker with the traditional Nike logo, there was the original flame logo. He said: "I went on the shop floor and peeled another sticker off. They peel like a banana. I’m just a kid off the street and I can’t see anyone with a bit of knowledge about Islam agreeing to those stickers. They should have taken them off the shelves straight away". A Nike spokesperson said: "We sought and obtained approval for a heat-sealed, non-removable adhesive to be stuck on the back of the shoes. If there is a problem with the adhesive coming off, making it offensive again then we have no hesitation recalling them" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 17.04.98). Several Islamic organisations are calling for a total boycott of all Nike products worldwide until the trainers are withdrawn and an apology issued (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 18.04.98, 20.04.98).

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus (28.04.98) and Eastern Eye (01.05.98) under the headings "Shoe giant on track for logo meeting" and "The sacred shoe cover-up" respectively, report that discussions are continuing between Nike and British Muslim organisations. Ghulam Rasul, president of the Bradford Council for Mosques, was confident that talks would result in a permanent solution: "We are pleased Nike has recognised what they have done wasn’t right. We hope to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 28.04.98). The article in Eastern Eye (01.05.98) however, was less optimistic that a permanent solution satisfactory to the British Muslim organisations would be reached. They report that the sports equipment chain JJB had no intention of withdrawing the shoes and that Nike claim that they put stickers over the offensive logo on advice from the Council on American Islamic Relations and would only withdraw the trainers if the stickers were coming off. Mohammed Amran, a newly-appointed Commissioner for Racial Equality from Bradford (see Report in the Racism section of this issue of BMMS), commented: "They [Nike] realised what the logo was but are stupid enough to do the same thing again. It’s a matter of respect. You don’t put God’s name on clothes and shoes." [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 2/3]

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Reports

 

Community

Eid stories

A great many local newspapers have reported on the celebration of the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, which marks the culmination of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Colchester Evening Gazette (06.04.98) headed its article "Have a Chinese instead" and listed all the Muslim-run restaurants which would be closed for a day’s holiday on Eid, which fell on 7 April this year. The Northampton Chronicle & Echo (09.04.98) reported that many Muslims who attended Eid prayers at the George Street mosque came out to find they had been given parking tickets. One worshipper, Mr A Kuddus, said he did not think this had dampened people’s spirits: "Many people got parking tickets that morning but they do not care because it is Eid. It is a fresh start and a time to forgive grievances". In a comment column in the same paper on 14 April, the editor repeats this anecdote and adds: "I wonder whether Christians in a similar situation would be so philosophical. I doubt it". In Hammersmith, the celebrations had an interfaith flavour, as Eid and Baishaki, the Sikh spring festival, were celebrated together at the Shanti Centre in Queen Caroline Street, a day care centre for elderly Asian people. Harsha Patel, Balbir Chokar and Bashart Latif were the organisers. Harsha said: "Everyone is happy to celebrate the two festivals together and everyone really enjoyed themselves. We gave out sweets and drinks after the dancing which everyone also enjoyed" (Hammersmith, Fulham & Shepherds Bush Gazette, 10.04.98). Many of these reports concentrate on the ways in which Muslim women have celebrated the festival, with singing, dancing and fashion shows. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3]

 

 

Finance developments

The Ethical Consumer (01.04.98), in an article which is a round-up of news on ethical investment issues, has a small piece about the interest-free house purchase scheme launched by the Islamic Investment Banking Unit (IIBU) last year (see BMMS for January and February 1998). The Independent on Sunday (26.04.98) has a round-up of news about Islamic savings, investment and mortgage schemes available to customers in Britain. It points out that, even from some Muslims, there is criticism about the management of some of these arrangements, such as the Halal Mutual Investment Services personal investments scheme. The article quotes Mohammed Rafiq, a member of the Islamic Party of Great Britain, writing in their journal Common Sense: "They call themselves Halal and then state that their business is...an Islamic investment management partnership, but not one of their directors is a Muslim!". Zaki Badawi, speaking in his capacity as chair of the Shariah Council of Great Britain, disagreed with this stance, saying: "If an Islamic financial services company follows certain rules sanctioned by a Sharia board then that’s fine. If people follow them, then their behaviour is Islamic". David Colclough, marketing director for the United Bank of Kuwait in Britain said: "We want to bring the Islamic system to Britain, allowing the man in the street to participate".

The Islamic Investment Banking Unit, part of the United Bank of Kuwait (UBK), has recently set up the Student Property Leasing Fund, which aims to raise £30 million to invest in student housing for more than 2,000 students in the UK (Guardian, 11.04.98, Birmingham Post, 13.04.98) Eastern Eye, 17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98). Richard Thomas, deputy chief executive of UBK, said that the fund has been approved as operating within the principles of shari’ah by the Fiqh Academy in Jeddah. He added: "This is the first ever fund that will be dedicated to students’ property in the UK which will be let to students. It will encourage occupancy among Muslim students" (Eastern Eye,17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3]

 

 

Poisoner case

The Yorkshire Post (03.04.98) has a report on the case which was before the Court of Appeal in which Zoora Shah, jailed for life in December 1993 for the murder of Mohammed Azam, brother of the leader of the Bradford Council for Mosques, is appealing on the grounds of diminished responsibility (see BMMS for March 1998). The case was the first in Britain in 23 years to involve poisoning with arsenic. A witness for Ms Shah, consultant psychiatrist Maurice Lipsedge of Guy’s Hospital, London, told the court that he had no doubt that she was suffering from a depressive illness at the time she killed Mr Azam. He said: "That could well have put her in a state of mind where she was feeling pessimistic, feeling hopeless and helpless about her position, feeling desperate, seeing no way out and then being liable to a distortion of her judgement". Ms Shah has, however, lost her appeal against the conviction and her demand for a retrial has been refused (Daily Telegraph, Daily Jang, 01.05.98). On 30 April, the Court of Appeal in London decided that it did not accept Ms Shah’s argument that the balance of her mind was disturbed when she poisoned Mr Azam with arsenic. A consultant psychiatrist, who had examined Ms Shah on two occasions before her trial, said that deliberate fatal poisoning of adults was not compatible with clinical depression. The judge commented on this evidence from an expert witness that: "The force of that point is easily grasped by a non-medical mind especially where, as here, the poisoning is repeated". Ms Shah’s daughter Naseem, aged 24, said that the family felt "total devastation" at the outcome. She said of the British justice system: "It stinks. It is unfair and it is unjust". Southall Black Sisters, who have been campaigning for Zoora Shah’s release, commented: "We are very saddened and angry at today’s judgement. It is a set back for all women who suffer domestic violence whatever their racial and cultural origins. The Court of Appeal saw fit today to deny Zoora Shah the justice that she desperately deserved. Instead, in its time-honoured fashion, it has chosen a course which shows that male prejudice and lack of compassion for women who suffer domestic violence is alive and well within the legal system" (Daily Jang, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3/4]

 

 

Football update

Reporting continues in both local and national papers (Rotherham Advertiser, 27.03.98, Eastern Eye, 03.04.98, Asian Times, 07.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98) on the footballs which have the Islamic profession of faith, the Shahada, printed on them (see BMMS for March 1998). Councillor Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, who had spotted the balls on sale in the town, said: "The wording of the verse is the basic fundamental belief of all Muslims and is the most sacred of the five pillars of Islam. The idea of it being on a football has caused offence to people" (Rotherham Advertiser, 27.03.98). The balls have now been withdrawn from sale and the wholesalers alerted to the problem. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4]

 

 

Rushdie update

The announcement on 7 April that Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (see BMMS for January, February and March 1998) is to be published in paperback has occasioned renewed death threats to be made against the author (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 08.04.98, Leicester Mercury, 11.04.98, Independent, 13.04.98, Eastern Eye, 17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98). At the same time, critics and publishers are divided on the merits of Fatima’s Scarf by David Caute, a novel which satirises the Rushdie affair and Muslim politics in Britain (Daily Telegraph, 04.04.98, Observer, 17.04.98, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 13.04.98). D J Taylor, who reviewed Fatima’s Scarf for the Guardian, told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus: "I enjoyed it but it isn’t a great modern novel. He has obviously done his research and some parts of it are very funny. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it does inflame sensibilities in Bradford - it is undiscriminating in its attacks. His point is that no-one came out of the Rushdie affair with any credit - everyone behaved badly, including the author". However, the Daily Telegraph (04.04.98) reports that: "Ziauddin Sardar in this week’s New Statesman...calls the novel ‘trash’ and says: ‘The offensive passages seem judiciously worked out to cause just the right amount of outrage among Muslims and keep Caute on the safe side of a fatwa’". The Independent on Sunday Magazine (25.04.98) has printed a critical review of the book. The reviewer, who is not named, believes that David Caute was forced to publish the novel himself, not, as Mr Caute claims, because publishers feared reprisals since the book is based on the Rushdie affair, but because it lacks any literary merit. The reviewer writes: "Stilted and stale language swills aimlessly from one page to the next. The real problem is that though there are dozens of characters (too many), all speak with one bilious voice, that of David Caute. He can never quite manage to rise above himself and the result is painfully unreadable".

Prospect (01.05.98) has an article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown marking the tenth anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Here she assesses not only the negative aspects of the Rushdie affair in terms of its impact on Muslims in Britain and race relations, but also sees some positive, if perhaps unintended effects. Talking about ethnic minority writers post-Rushdie, she says: "...there is a new confidence about what we are saying. You can see it in the television series ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, you sense it in the musings of the writer Aamer Hussein and the radio plays of Rukhsana Ahmad. But I wonder if anyone will notice and whether we who have been angry for so long, will find it in our hearts to feel a sense of gratitude to a writer [Rushdie] who opened up a box on which we had been sitting for far too long? Most of all, I wish we could put down our weapons and talk". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4]

 

 

Oxford centre

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, which had been threatened by Merton College with legal action concerning its plans to build on a site next to the Magdalen College Deer Park (see BMMS for February, March, April, May and June 1997; January, February and March 1998), has now been offered a new site on King’s Mill Lane by Magdalen College (Oxford Mail, 18.04.98, Observer, 19.04.98, The Times, Daily Telegraph, 20.04.98). Dr David Browning, registrar of the centre, said: "We will have to make some adaptations because of the new site. But we hope its design will be very similar to the original plan" (Oxford Mail, 18.04.98, Daily Telegraph, 20.04.98). The chair of Oxford council’s planning committee, Maureen Christian, commented: "It’s a good place for an Islamic centre. This is an amenity that Oxford, as an international centre, would welcome. The site is in a conservation area, but the playing field is not in the green belt. We think that the centre’s tower would be an asset to the Oxford skyline". The centre’s registrar, Dr David Browning, said: "We will have to make some adaptations because of the new site. But we hope its design will be very similar to the original plan. The centre is very grateful to Magdalen College, which has always supported us" (Oxford Times, 24.04.98). Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) both say in their columns: "The elegant Islamic designs of the structure will set off the traditional splendour of Oxford’s Gothic colleges to stunning effect and will draw sight-seers in their droves. Many of the academics who raised strenuous objections to the scheme have merely displayed their own fear of change. Well, change is inevitable and these people need to climb down from their ivory towers and join the real world". Eastern Eye (24.04.98) has an artist’s impression of what the central courtyard of the college will look like. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4/5]

 

 

Millennium celebrations

Fuad Nahdi, editor of Q-News, has an article in the Independent (25.04.98) musing on the relevance of the Millennium celebrations for Muslims, the various opinions amongst Muslims in Britain on the question, and the Muslim presence in the Millennium Dome (see BMMS for February 1998). He writes: "When it comes to celebrating the year 2000 British Muslims are caught in a moral, theological and spiritual quandary. Do they participate in an event that is clearly a celebration of the secular and the mundane over the spiritual and the eternal? For many Muslims the chosen main exhibit - that of a huge human form - is evidence enough of the idolatrous nature of the event. Furthermore, the involvement of lottery money in the project makes it even less spiritually attractive". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Sufi music

Peter Culshaw, who was involved in last summer’s Sufi Music Village festival in London (see BMMS for May and June 1997), has an article in Q-News (01.05.98) concerning the increasing appreciation of, and exposure to Sufi music in the west. He notes the world-wide popularity of the recently-deceased Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; the interest in Qawwali; and "that Philip Glass has recently set Rumi (in an opera entitled Monsters of Grace, to be premiered at the Barbican theatre from May 19th-23rd) comes as no surprise". His article concludes: "Sufi music is music of adoration, of longing for the Divine; music that can open the heart. It is perhaps timely then, as we approach the new millennium, that the West is beginning to get a hint of the magnitude of the lessons we cab learn from the Sufis". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

MCB letters

Q-News (01.05.98) has printed several readers’ letters on the subject of the formation of the Muslim Council of Britain (see BMMS for November and December 1997; March 1998) and Q-News’ reporting on the MCB. The letters are predominately optimistic about the role of the MCB and condemnatory of Q-News’ reporting of the launch. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Nuneaton centre plans

Councillors in Nuneaton have disregarded the advice of planning officers to refuse permission for the Nuneaton Khalifa Muslim Society to double the size of their premises in Edward Street, Nuneaton (see BMMS for March 1998). Councillor Robin Hood said: "I think we should go against the recommendation to refuse this application. They should be commended for wanting to provide a facility such as this for the community...There are no letters of objection and quite frankly this society have done an awful lot for the local community and are here to stay. I move we formally accept the application". The additional facilities will be used for training, advice sessions and small gatherings (Heartland Evening News, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Islamic Relief tour

Islamic Relief held a concert tour, visiting Birmingham, London, Manchester and Glasgow in mid-April. Funds raised from the tour were in aid of Islamic Relief’s Orphan Welfare Programme (see BMMS for March 1998). Groups performing included the rappers, Mecca 2 Madina; nasheed singers Al Bashaar and Al Isra; Sham, who have recently worked with Islamic Relief to produce an album for charity, entitled "Our Children, Our Future"; and a Palestinian dance group (Eastern Eye, 03.04.98, Asian Times, 07.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). Najma Ebrahim, reviewing the concert at Wembley on 11 April, wrote: "For the Muslims present at the event, it was an eye-opener to ‘halal’ music, allaying any doubts many have as regards to music in Islam. The turnout and success of the day [in terms of fund-raising and recruiting sponsors for orphans] go to prove that such events are beneficial and needed for families to go together as a unit and enjoy themselves" (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Tipton grant

Tipton’s Park Estate Al-Islah community group has been awarded a grant of £2,800 from the Challenge Partnership. It will be used for information technology, including a scanner, printer and language packs. The Community Trust’s president, Ahmadul Haque said: "The aim of the trust is to improve community life in the area. A team of volunteers will translate information" (Sandwell Chronicle, 27.03.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Plans for July celebration

Muslims in Merton are already planning how they will celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, which falls in July this year. The Merton Islamic Trust and the British Muslim Association of Merton have planned to hold a celebratory event in Wimbledon Community Centre. For more information, contact Ausaj Ahmad on 0181 947 7633 (Wimbledon News, 03.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Pakistan National Day

The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan visited Leicester as part of a series of events held to make Pakistan’s Independence Day. Alam Brohi addressed members of the Pakistan Muslim League. The Deputy High Commissioner said: "We are here to celebrate the National day of Pakistan. March 23 is memorable because that was when the resolution was passed by the All India Muslim League in Lahore to create Pakistan. We remember August 14, 1947, because that was when Pakistan achieved independence". Manzoor Moghul, chair of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, thanked Mr Brohi for his service to the Pakistani community in Britain over the past three years and said that Mr Brohi was now likely to be transferred to Portugal (Leicester Mercury, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Ahmadiyya meeting

At the end of March, members of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Association held a gathering of their Bengali-speaking members at the Ahmadiyya centre in Gressenhall Road, Wandsworth, London (Wandsworth Borough News, 02.04.98, 03.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5/6]

 

 

Yorkshire scam

A conwoman has been cheating Asian families in Yorkshire by taking their religious artefacts, saying she is going to have them blessed and substituting them for poor quality fakes. Inspector Gareth Perrott of Halifax police said: "Some of these offences took place in January but were not discovered until over a month later. This woman has visited houses and preyed on the religious beliefs of people. She has said she will get the originals blessed but is swapping them for fakes. We have reason to believe that this woman may have been operating in other areas of the country and I would appeal to anyone who has been visited by her to come forward to police in the strictest confidence. It could save further anguish if we can make an arrest". A spokesperson from a mosque in Bradford was doubtful if the victims were Muslims. He said: "This sounds like fraud and slowly people seem to be losing their respect for religious rites. It’s making fun of religion. We in the Muslim faith do not worship idols, we have a simple prayer mat, but Hindus and Sikhs do" (Yorkshire Post, 04.04.98). Similar deceptions may have been also carried out in Sheffield and Dewsbury, according to local police. Anyone with any information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 (Yorkshire Post, 06.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Holy vegetables again!!

Staff at the Forts of India restaurant in Whitefield, Manchester, were very happy when they discovered an aubergine whose seeds, when the vegetable was sliced open, spell "Allah". The restaurant owner, Sheik Abdul Haris, contacted his cousin, Gias Uddin Choudhury, who is secretary of the British Bangladeshi Society of the UK, with the news. Mr Choudhury said: "It’s a great honour for all of us. God is not only for Muslim people, He is for everyone. People all over the country will be talking about this aubergine for a l ong time" (Radcliffe Times, 08.04.98, Bury Times, 09.04.98, Prestwich & Whitefield Guide, 09.04.98) The Daily Star (14.04.98) reported that hundreds of Muslims were flocking to the restaurant to see the aubergine. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Deportation battle

Javed Iqbal, who fled Pakistan six years ago because of threats following his marriage to a woman from a different Muslim sect, is now facing deportation. A campaign has been launched in his home town of Bury to save Mr Iqbal, his wife and four children, two of whom were born in Britain, from being removed from Britain. A petition with 4,000 signatures and hundreds of letters have been sent to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw and Bury’s council and MPs David Chaytor and Ivan Lewis are backing the campaign. Mr Iqbal said: "I’m very pleased by the way everyone has reacted. I never expected so much support" (Manchester Evening News, 11.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Islam discussion

The World Affairs Group of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution has launched its summer programme with a talk on Islam to be given by Dr Basil Mustafa. Dr Mustafa is a lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (Bath Chronicle, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Aga Khan title threat?

The advisors of the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of over four million Ismaili Muslims world-wide, are concerned that, with reforms to the British royal family, he may be deprived of his title "His Highness". The Queen granted the Aga Khan, a British subject, the title of His Highness in 1957. The Aga Khan is writing to the Queen and Tony Blair about the matter. There are an estimated 11,000 Ismailis in Britain (Daily Mail, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Oath rebuke

A defendant who described himself as a "devout Muslim" was criticised by a judge at Bolton Crown Court because he swore the Christian version of the witness oath, rather than the Muslim one. Judge Bruce Macmillan was hearing Zoherali Majli giving evidence in his own defence. He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of burglary but admitted a second offence of making false declarations when applying for a job as a postman. He was found guilty and jailed for six months (Bolton Evening News, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Media awards

Q-News (01.05.98) reports that there were only five Muslim names on the shortlist for the Ethnic Minority Media Awards, although there were many Hindu and Sikh names. However, Shami Ahmed, founder of the fashion firm Joe Bloggs, and the boxer, Prince Naseem Hamed, have both been nominated for awards in marketing and advertising and Shami Ahmed is also in the running for the Business Personality of the Year award. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Islam and media discussion

The Al-Khoei Foundation in London recently hosted a discussion on Islam and the media. The meeting was chaired by Edward Mortimer of the Financial Times and participants included, amongst others, Hosni Khashaba, Roger Hardy of the BBC World Service, Susannah Tarbush, Claire Spencer, Kate Clarke, Michael Wood, Saeed Shehabi, Peter Clarke of the British Council, Ali Allawi, Gabriele vom Brueck, Majeed Alawi, Abdullah Hammoda of ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Fadi Ismaili of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre, Helen Seaford of the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on the Future of a Multi-Ethnic Britain, Huda al-Rasheed of the BBC and Yousef al-Khoei and Nadeem Kazmi of the Al-Khoei Foundation. Nadeem Kazmi was the author of the report of this roundtable discussion, which appeared in the monthly publication Dialogue (01.04.98). He wrote that: "Fadi Ismail of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre found some of the most interesting sayings on Islam and Muslims incidentally emanating from the United States via the internet. What was, according to him, sometimes missing in the Western media was depicting the sense of siege and feeling among many Muslims of humiliation and of being terrorised. Alas, only extremist groups in the age of the soundbite, and sensationalism, were being given the media spotlight. He suggested a website concerned with monitoring media on the internet". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6/7]

 

 

Islamic mission interview

Luton on Sunday (12.04.98) has an interview with Syed Rizvi, general secretary of the International Islamic Mission and a resident of Luton since 1967. Syed Rizvi teaches Arabic, Urdu and the Qur’an and liaises with local prisons, education authorities and hospitals on matters concerning Muslims and Asians. Generally, Syed Rizvi felt optimistic about the situation of Asians and Muslims in the town. He was asked about his voluntary work as a Muslim prison visitor and then: "Do you think it is true that more Asian youngsters than others get in trouble with the police?". To this question he replied: "I think in this day and age many Asian boys are getting more involved with petty crimes and there are various reasons. The main reason, in my opinion, is a lack of parental care. Parents don’t bother to know what their children are doing. They are busy making money and a lot of children are left on their own. The youngsters do all sorts of silly things and get involved in crime as a consequence". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Death of London-based poet

The Financial Times (01.05.98) carries an obituary to Nizar Qabbani, an internationally-known poet of Syrian origin who died on 30 April of a heart attack in his London home, aged 75. Funeral prayers for Nizar Qabbani were due to be held at the Central Mosque at Regent’s Park on 1 May. Qabbani was originally a diplomat with the Syrian diplomatic service, and served at embassies in Paris, London, Beijing and Madrid, before leaving in 1966 to devote his time to writing poetry. He was the author of almost thirty books of poetry and a regular contributor to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Hayat. Abdou Wazen, a Beirut literary critic, said: "His poetry was more powerful than all the Arab regimes put together, although it entailed only moral power". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Uxbridge plans

Trustees of the Muslim Community Centre in Uxbridge, Middlesex, are applying for planning permission to demolish their present building, which is a pair of semi-detached houses, and replace it with a new building. Planning officers are recommending refusal, on the grounds that parking provision would be inadequate and the style of the building would be out of keeping with the area (Gazette Uxbridge & West Drayton, Harfield Gazette, 15.04.98). The community centre’s treasurer, Mohammad Hoque, said: "There will not be many cars coming to the centre and we don’t think there will be a traffic problem. We need this new centre and will fight for it. We will reapply for planning permission if the plan is turned down by the council" (Gazette Uxbridge & West Drayton, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Ahmadiyya Eid

Ahmadiyya Muslims from all over Britain, numbering more than 6,000 recently came to Islamabad, the Ahmadiyya Muslim centre at Tilford, to celebrate Eid-Ul-Adha together. The gathering was broadcast worldwide on the Ahmadiyya 24-hour television channel (Farnham Herald, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Shelton charity gift

On Good Friday the Islamic Centre in Shelton collected over £120 for the local Douglas Macmillan Hospice. They recently had a small ceremony to hand the money over to the matron of the hospice, Norma O’Neill. The spokesperson for the centre, Rana Tufail explained that the day was chosen for the collection as, being a bank holiday, more of their members could attend the centre for prayers than on other Fridays. Mr Tufail said: "We decided two years ago to have an annual collection for Douglas Macmillan because of the work they do. We are part of the community and we felt we must contribute to these charitable organisations"(Stoke on Trent Sentinel, 30.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Faith in prison

Awaaz (01.05.98) has a feature article on Muslims in prison, discussing questions such as the provision of halal food, facilities for daily and congregational prayers, Ramadan, chaplaincy services, and prison conversions to Islam. Those interviewed include two prisoners, one at Wakefield Prison and one at Peterhead; Ali Asghar, who along with Khali Kazi is an imam serving the Muslims in Armley Prison, Leeds; and David Knott, Governor at Armley Prison. On the subject of prison conversions, Ali Asghar said: "There have been converts to Islam in my time here. One particular Friday we had three converts. Islam is the true way of life and this is clear when you study the holy book. On the outside, people are too busy to think about these things but inside there is time to study and to think and then they realise the truth about Islam. In my experience, those who convert to Islam are accepted by other Muslims. I don’t know of anyone who has had problems with other white inmates but I know of some who have had problems with their families. Still they have said to me that they have found peace and harmony through Islam". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Kirklees social services plans

The Pakistan Kashmir Welfare Society (PKWA) in Batley has set up a phone line on which callers can give their opinions and suggestions about social services provision in North Kirklees. Views from the community will then be presented to Kirklees Social Services managers at a seminar to be held later in the year by the PKWA, Heckmondwicke’s Pakistan Muslim Welfare Society and the Salfia Association of Ravensthorpe. Tahir Hussain, chair of the PKWA said: "This innovative initiative serves to express our commitment to the ethnic minority community to seek improvements in the planning and delivery of service provision. It is a step towards greater user involvement in how services are delivered in North Kirklees". English, Punjabi and Urdu speaking operators will be available on the phone line, whose number is 0800 052 0243 (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Qur’an event planned

The Mount Pleasant Islamic Daw’ah Centre Batley has been chosen as the venue for the Al-Birr Foundation Annual Qur’anic Competition. There are there classes in the competition, ranging from under 14’s to under 22’s. The total prize money is over £4,000 this year. The closing date for entering the competition is 30 May. Further details and application forms may be obtained from: Al-Birr Foundation UK., PO Box 12859, London E10 6Un, phone 0181 558 7109 (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7/8]

 

 

Art auctions

The magazine The Middle East (01.05.98) has an article on the annual specialist auctions of Islamic art held in London by famous auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Spink’s. The article includes colour photographs of some outstanding pieces which will be offered for sale this year. There is also some history of the event: "In 1975 the World of Islam Festival was held at various venues all over London, which was to have far-reaching consequences in raising public awareness of Arab-Muslim culture, not least initiating twice-yearly exhibitions and sales in London which have become known as Islamic Week. They now represent such a significant date in the global arts calendar that no dealer, collector, academic nor museum curator dare miss one. As a result of that seminal festival, London has become the centre for Islamic art, rather appropriately, being neatly half-way between the Eastern and Western worlds". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Education

Muslim school funding

On 21 April the Islamia School (see BMMS for December 1997; January and February 1998) in Brent, north London, began the first day of the summer term as the first state-funded school in Britain. The School Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, was present at this historic occasion. He said: "Today is an historic occasion, making a broadening of the faiths represented in state sector education. It is important that our multi-cultural society should be reflected in the variety of educational experience available to our children - underpinned by high quality and high standards" (Daily Jang, The Times, Oxford Mail, Nuneaton Evening Telegraph, Liverpool Daily Post, Barnsley Star, Lancaster Star, Birmingham Evening Mail, Birmingham Express & Star, Walsall Express & Star, Shropshire Star, Eastern Daily Press, 21.04.98). He also wrote an article in Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) on the Islamia school, Al Furqan School in Birmingham, which has also got state funding, and more generally about the current government’s aims and achievements in education. He said of Al Furqan and Islamia: "I have been impressed with the dedication of the staff and trustees at both schools who have fought for the recognition they have now achieved. They have created popular, well-managed schools that are keen to build on their success. The two schools are also a tribute to the Muslim community as a whole and to the community’s belief in education. British Muslims have a great deal to offer the rest of our society" (Eastern Eye, 24.04.98, Asian Times, 28.04.98). The Morning Star (21.04.98) and Daily Mail (21.04.98) stressed that the school has a commitment to equal opportunities for girls and boys and believes in encouraging citizenship.

The chair of Jcore, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Dr Richard Stone, has welcomed the government’s decision to give state funding to the two schools, as being a move towards improved community relations. Writing in Connections, the quarterly magazine of the Commission for Racial Equality, Dr Stone confessed to embarrassment at a situation where "we had 23 Jewish schools for 300,000 people while there were no state-funded schools for 1.5 Muslims" (Jewish Chronicle, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Luton house plans

It seems unlikely that planning permission will be granted to use a house in Runley Road, Dallow, as a centre "to provide cultural, moral and supplementary education for Muslim children and mothers". Planning officers are opposed to the application, from Ahmed Saleh of 1 Runley Road, on the grounds of likely parking problems and traffic congestion. They said: "The proposed development would injuriously affect the amenities of the adjoining properties by reason of noise and general disturbance, and disturbance from traffic calling at the premises" (Luton News, 01.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Coventry schools

The chair of Coventry’s planning committee, Councillor Sheila Collins (Labour, Longford) has defended the council’s decision to force Paradise Muslim School in Cromwell Street to close (see BMMS for March 1998). She said: "The applicants themselves acknowledged the premises weren’t suitable, and were seeking temporary planning permission only. The council’s own development plan states that new schools will be located and designed for the maximum convenience of the children and the local community they are intended to serve" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, Rugby Evening Telegraph, 23.04.98). Muslim councillor Shabbir Ahmed accused Labour councillors of going beyond their remit in closing the school, when planning officers had recommended it remained open, there were no complaints from local residents, and the school had temporary registration from the Department of Education. He claimed that this decision by the Labour-led council had influenced his decision to defect to the Conservatives (see Report in the Politics section of this issue of BMMS). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Arabic lessons

The College of Continuing Education is holding classes in Arabic at the Rutter Street mosque for people planning to visit Saudi Arabia (Lichfield & Burntwood Express & Star, 09.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

College planning application

The Darul Uloom Islamic College in Holcombe Old Road, Holcombe has submitted a planning application to Ramsbottom council for extension work including a communal lounge, conservatory and enlargement of the reception and waiting room area (Rossendale Free Press, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Mixed swimming protest

Nasira Younas, the mother of 13-year-old Nosheen, has withdrawn her daughter from swimming lessons at Lister Community School in Newham, east London, on discovering that these sessions are mixed (Q-News, 01.05.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). She said: "I think many parents would be concerned that girls at a vulnerable age who are very conscious of their bodies are being made to swim in mixed sessions. My daughter does not wear hijab to school, but many other girls do. How must they feel when they have to take part in mixed swimming lessons? I am sure many of these girls’ parents are unaware that this is happening and the girls feel they have no choice in the matter are helpless and perhaps even lying to them" (Muslim News, 24.04.98). The school has a high proportion of Muslim students and Ms Younas has organised a petition, signed by over 150 parents of various faith communities. Anthony McRoy, of London Bible College, who is a parent governor from one of the feeder primary schools, accompanied Ms Younas at a recent meeting with the deputy head and the head of PE. Mr McRoy said: "My wife said she wouldn’t like our daughter to participate in mixed swimming at that age". The meeting did not result in any change in the school’s policy, but a further meeting was called for 22 April between Ms Younas, the headteacher, Linda McGowan, and the school governors (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8/9]

 

 

Glasgow Muslim school

Muslim entrepreneurs and educationalists who were looking for a building in Glasgow to convert into a Muslim girls school (see BMMS for February and March 1998) have now found premises they consider suitable (Glasgow Evening Times, Sun, 23.04.98, Scotsman, Scottish Daily Mail, Glasgow Herald, Sun, 24.04.98, Edinburgh Evening News, Glasgow Evening Times, 27.04.98, Scotsman, 28.04.98). A former annexe of the Bellahouston Academy in Govan has been purchased for around £300,000. Glasgow councillor Hanzala Malik said: "I wish the trustees good luck with their plans. This has arisen because of the council’s policy of ending all-girl schools in Glasgow. I am not on the steering group, but I was consulted and indeed went to England to look at the Muslim schools there. The standard of education is very high because class sizes are quite small" (Glasgow Evening Times, 23.04.98). The search for a building became more urgent when Muslims learned that Glasgow city council plans to make the last girls only school, the Catholic Notre Dame School, co-educational. Muzaffar Yousaf, one of the businesspeople on the steering group said: "This is not about keeping Asian and white children apart. Non-Muslim children will be welcome but we will emphasise a strong moral stand. Non-denominational Glasgow schools are not putting enough emphasis on the moral standards of children. That is why the majority of Asians send their children to Catholic schools, where there is a greater moral stand" (Scotsman, 24.04.98).[BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

College prayer room fight

The fight for a prayer room at Hendon College in north west London continues. Over the past fifteen months, two student spokespersons, Adel Al-Daheri and Masood Mahmoud, have been campaigning for the restoration of a permanent room for Muslim prayers. In November, the college granted the use of a room for half hour and one full hour slots each day, but the students argue that this is inadequate, since the slots will inevitably clash with some students’ classes and that they need a place which is permanent and open throughout the college day for prayer and reflection (Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Oxford day school

A day school whose aim was to explore ways of increasing the understanding of Islam was planned by Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department for 9 May. Invited speakers included the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries and Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in London (Oxford Times, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Oadby school anniversary

The Muslim School of Oadby, which teaches after-school classes in Qur’anic studies, Islamic history and Urdu, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at St Paul’s Church in Hamble Road. Children who had done well in their exams were presented with prizes. The school’s chairperson, Mr Mehr, said that the school started with just 12 children and now had 40, with many more on the waiting list (Leicester Mercury, 29.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Fight to save madrasa

Following the council’s refusal to extend the Thornhill Lees Muslim Welfare Trust’s temporary planning permission for the madrasa it has been running for the past two years, the council, who are the owners of the land upon which the madrasa was built, are threatening to sue for trespass. A hearing on 18 April was adjourned for two months, to allow the trust and Kirklees council to reach a settlement. A spokesperson for the trust said: "If an agreement cannot be found then the education of local children will undoubtedly suffer. The nearest madrasa is over a mile away in Savile Town, it is already barely adequate to cope with the demand from its immediate community and unlikely to accept children from Thornhill Lees". Another member of the trust’s committee refuted specific allegations made by the council which have been given for terminating the lease and the temporary permission: "The issue around car parking and access facilities has been overblown with most of the children travelling to the madrasa by foot. And whilst I accept that members of the local community have been using the madrasa as a place of worship there is a world of difference between a mosque and a prayer room" (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Muslim children in Cornwall

A correspondent to the Western Morning News (22.04.98) writes that: "We were recently informed that there are 250 Muslims living in Cornwall, and that the authorities there have asked the Muslim community to take part in child education". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Politics

Dissidents in UK

Yasir Sirri, an Islamist militant sentenced to death in Egypt and currently seeking asylum in Britain, has written to Tony Blair demanding that the prime minister raise the issue of human rights in Egypt when he visited President Mubarak during his Middle East tour. Mr Sirri said that the prime minister should advise the Egyptian leader to have a dialogue with his opponents, as Britain is now doing with Northern Ireland. He said: "Let Mubarak learn the lessons. He has been 17 years in power. It is a very bad time for Egypt". Although several times in recent years the Egyptian government has accused Britain of sheltering so-called terrorists and demanded their extradition (see BMMS for November 1997 and March 1998), Mr Sirri is not afraid. He said: "This is a country where the rule of law prevails. Every day the Egyptian papers are calling for me to be sent back. Britain will not respond favourably because nothing tangible about my case has been presented to the British courts" (The Times, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9/10]

 

 

Iraq sanctions

Two newspapers, the Scotsman (03.04.98) and Q-News (01.05.98) have full-page articles about how the policies of the British government towards Iraq is causing suffering to the Iraqi people, and about the opposition towards these policies from Britons, both Muslims and non-Muslims (see BMMS for February and March 1998). Cardinal Winning, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was reported in the Scotsman (03.04.98) as having written in the Scottish Catholic Monthly Flourish, concerning MP George Galloway’s recent efforts to highlight the inhumane effects of sanctions imposed on Iraq: "What is being brought before us is a real suffering of the innocent. Caught between a repressive evil dictatorship at home and understandable international determination to control a dangerous despot, we don’t often see with clarity what life is like for people in such a situation. The more you examine what is happening to the ordinary Iraqi population who have had no say in determining how they are governed, the more convinced you become that hitting them hard cannot be justified". Scottish Muslim leaders welcomed the cardinal’s statement. Haq Ghani, spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Britain in Glasgow, commented: "The whole Muslim community here is really shocked and distressed at the lack of care which the British government has shown about the plight of a people who have no control over a dictatorial government. The British government has to accept responsibility for the lives of thousands of men, women and children who are denied medicine and food and have been dying in really desperate conditions. These sanctions are not hurting Saddam, only ordinary people, and they must be lifted immediately". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

G8 Summit contribution

The Methodist Recorder (09.04.98) has an article on events protesting about debt, particularly Third World Debt, when the leaders of the world’s richest and most powerful nations come to Birmingham on 16 May for the G8 Summit. The author explains that one of the bodies co-ordinating the protests is the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, which is mainly Christian, but other faith communities are also taking part. He continues: "Muslims are not supposed to lend money under usury terms... a group in Balsall Heath is organising a series of lectures on the issue of debt in the week leading up to the summit. One of the titles will be ‘World debt and the End of Interest’. A Pakistani professor will be speaking on the Muslim position and the intention is to persuade a World Bank representative to speak in favour of lending money at interest." [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Stickers investigation

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has contacted the Home Office with its concern about stickers appearing in the Redbridge and Walthamstow areas which claim that the Holocaust did not happen. The stickers claim to be produced by a Muslim group. The Board of Deputies, via its Community Security Trust, has also contacted local councils, the police and local papers about this problem (London Jewish News, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Passover gift

Hackney’s mayor, Councillor Joe Lobenstein, who is also the vice-president of the Union of Hebrew Congregations, was presented with a matzah tray at a ceremony at the North London Muslim Centre. In his thank you speech, Councillor Lobenstein praised the good relations between the different religious and ethnic communities in Hackney, adding: "The world would be a better place if this kind of relationship were followed" (Jewish Chronicle, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Councillors defect

Two Labour Coventry city councillors have defected to the Conservatives. Jaswant Singh and Shabbir Ahmed, both representing St Michael’s ward, resigned from Labour on 25 March. Councillor Ahmed has been a Labour Party member for 20 years and a councillor for seven. He has objected to the closure of the Paradise Muslim School by the council (see Report in the Education section of this BMMS), saying: "They use us as a tool every time they want to win an election. We have to send a strong message to Labour that they can’t take us for granted. Recently the Council decided to close down a Muslim school and this year they put me down for committee meetings on Fridays even though it is a day for prayers for Muslims". Councillor Mohammed Asif (Labour, Upper Stoke) rejected Councillor Ahmed’s allegations: "He has got it completely wrong. The Labour Party believes in equality more than the Conservatives and has more racial harmony". He denied that Coventry’s Labour Party was unsympathetic to Muslim issues (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Leicester mayor gift

The lord mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ray Flint, was presented with a cheque for £110 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and a Muslim prayer shawl for himself by the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims at a civic reception held at their centre in Wellington Street, Leicester. A spiritual leader of the group, Shaykh Nooruddin Yamani, was visiting Britain from America and he presented the cheque and shawl to the mayor, who welcomed him to the civic reception and to the city (Leicester Mercury, 25.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Prime minister comment

The Guardian (30.04.98) has an article reviewing the first year of Tony Blair’s premiership. Six prominent people from diverse walks of life were interviewed and asked about their opinions of Tony Blair’s first year of office. Dr Hamed Almaajed, director general of the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Society, said: "I am quite pleased with their job. We met the Prime Minister and Jack Straw just one month before the election. They both came and visited the Islamic centre - the first major politicians to do so. They made promises that made us hopeful that things would change for the better for the Muslim community if they got elected and this is exactly what happened". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10/11]

 

 

Racism

Crime and Disorder Bill

Discussion continues in the Muslim press, with four articles in Q-News (01.05.98) and in the New Statesman (03.04.98) as to whether the proposed Crime and Disorder Bill will protect Muslims from attack, harassment and discrimination. Writing in the New Statesman, Fuad Nahdi, who is the editor of Q-News, and Robin Richardson, co-director of the Instead consultancy, which specialises in equality issues, argue that, unless certain anomalies in British law are rectified, Muslims could be worse off under the new legislation. This is because, whereas Sikhs and Jews are considered "ethnic groups" under the law, Muslims are not. So, Nahdi and Richardson point out some potential ironies: "Advice to racists: when you’re in the mood for a bit of desecrating, you’ll be better off doing a mosque than a synagogue or a Sikh temple. Further helpful advice to racists: if you feel like beating someone up, you’ll be pleased to know that the Crime and Disorder Bill says it’s less serious to injure a Muslim woman wearing hijab than a Jewish man wearing a kippa or a Sikh wearing a turban. Now imagine some Sikh youths in Southall who drive along the M4 to Slough and beat up a Muslim. Under the Crime and Disorder Bill the courts will treat this less severely than if Muslim youths in Slough drive along the M4 to Southall and beat up a Sikh". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Race relations appointments

The Daily Jang (01.05.98) has a report on the new Commissioners for Racial Equality, of whom the youngest is Mohammed Amran, a 22-year-old youth and community worker from Bradford (see the ‘Nike shoes controversy’ feature in this issue of BMMS). Mr Amran was chair for three years of Bradford’s Youth and Community Forum, which was set up in 1995 following the Bradford riots (see BMMS for February, April, May, November and December 1996; May 1997). He said: "My aim is to tackle all sorts of discrimination and to talk to big firms and to get them to adopt policies on race relations. People are not delivering what they say they are delivering on this - there’s a lot of lip-service". The other new members of the commission are Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; Shahid Malik, head of policy and development at Greater Nottingham Training and Enterprise Council; and Cherry-Rose Short, probation officer and consultant on race at South Glamorgan Probation Service. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Councillor denounces racism

Councillor Paul Nesbitt told the Manchester edition of the Jewish Telegraph (24.04.98) that he felt ashamed of the racism exhibited by some Jews concerning the proposed sale of the former Prestwich Brooklands Library to a Muslim organisation for a mosque and community centre. He said: "I have had eight phone calls from Jews making racist remarks against Asians and Muslims. It is absolutely appalling. I was ashamed that such remarks were coming from Jews. They had no shame. They told me that if I was a good Jew, I would do everything in my power to stop these people coming. We should be the last people on earth to be narrow-minded and racist. Some of those who complained were pensioners who were older enough to have experienced what happened under Hitler and Mosley. Now they are doing exactly the same to another race. They should put their brain into gear before they put their mouth into operation". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Women

Muslim women study

Preliminary findings published by Professor Marie Parker-Jenkins from her research on the careers and aspirations of young Muslim women aged 16 to 25 have led the Department for Education and employment to offer to sponsor a conference to discuss her full findings (see BMMS for October 1997). Professor Parker-Jenkins of the University of Derby, said: "We have had a tremendous response from different agencies wanting to know more about the initial findings. We are looking to publish the full findings later in the year and the conference will follow" (Derby Evening Telegraph, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Nuneaton fund raising

The Nuneaton Muslim Women’s Group has raised £1,635 for Islamic Relief for its work with orphans. Parveen Deen, secretary of the group, said when presenting the cheque to the charity: "We would like to thank everyone involved in making this event very successful. We received much kind support from local businesses, traders, shop keepers, restaurant owners and local people" (Nuneaton Weekly Tribune, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Married bliss?

Muslim News (24.04.98) has printed considerable correspondence on the theme of Muslim women’s expectation of humane, equal treatment in marriage and how that expectation is often not fulfilled. This correspondence was catalysed by an article by Soraya Ahmed in a previous edition of Muslim News, where she detailed the physical and emotional abuse she had suffered in her marriage. The editorial in Muslim News (24.04.98) comments: "Evidence from our letter writers, the Muslim Women’s Helpline and other organisations which deal with and help women suggests that Soraya’s is not an isolated case. There are hundreds of Muslim women in marriages which are the cause of distress and not happiness and contentment. Without careful consideration of why these problems have arisen and appropriate action, we can only see a growing trend of marriage breakdowns in the Muslim community with the consequent impact on the development and socialisation of Muslim children who will be left without the full-time love and attention of one or other of their parents. This in turn will have an impact on the future strength and well-being of the Muslim community...". The editorial calls for more Muslim marriage counselling. Amongst the letters, one from the Muslim Women’s Helpline says that their annual report for 1997 is now available, price £2.50 plus postage and packing. Copies can be ordered by phoning 0181 908 3205. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11/12]

 

 

Youth

Young women’s view of racism

Shout (10.04.98), a magazine aimed at girls and young women, has an article about the impact of racism on girls, entitled Rule Out Racism. One of those interviewed is Neelam, who is 13 and of Bangladeshi origin. Her family live in Scotland and run a shop. In her interview she says: "Sometimes I think people are funny towards Asians because they don’t understand them. My family is Muslim. We don’t make fun of Christian people or think they’re weird for going to church, yet we get stared at sometimes on our way to the mosque. A few months back, the outside wall was vandalised with racist graffiti. There’s no need for that. The country is big enough for everyone -why can’t we all just get along?" [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Ahmadiyya charity fundraising

West Yorkshire members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, including about 50 from the Huddersfield branch based in Lower Fitzwilliam Street, helped to raise £5,000 for the Save the Children Fund. The youngsters had participated in a 26-mile marathon in the Yorkshire Dales. In total, members of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association raised £20,000 for various charities (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 08.04.98).

Members of the Slough Ahmadiyya Association’s youth group planned to participate in the association’s national sponsored walk, which goes from Oxford to Slough. The association aimed to raise at least £20,000 for charity. The charities to benefit include the save the Children Fund and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (Midweek Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Muslim Youth League office

Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) carry news of the opening of the offices of the Muslim Youth League UK recently in east London. The offices were opened by the leader of the Minhaj-ul-Quran movement, of which the Muslim Youth League is a part, Professor Shaykh Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri. The professor had come to London from Pakistan especially for the opening. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Interfaith

Grimsby Eid celebrations

At the Eid celebrations in Grimsby, to which the mayor and mayoress, councillors and local journalists were invited, Ruqaiyah Waris Maqsood, author and lecturer in religious education, spoke about the similarities between Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings. The writer in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph (23.04.98) concluded her piece: "One joy of the afternoon was to meet families - mum, dad and children - all celebrating together. Another personal one was the promise of a root of Moroccan mint, so that we can enjoy our own mint tea ceremony - one of the best remedies I know for indigestion after a spicy meal". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Halal

Abattoir planning application

A halal chicken slaughtering firm looks certain to gain permanent planning permission. Planning officers have recommended the site at Bell’s Farm, Shantock Hall Lane, Bovingdon be made permanent because of its role in the local economy. Formerly a poultry farm, the abattoir now kills 75,000 chickens a week for the halal meat trade. The managing director Chris Atkinson said: "This is an ideal site and there aren’t any suitable places for us to relocate to in the area as people don’t want a chicken abattoir alongside their offices on an industrial estate" (Bucks Examiner, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Jail provision controversy

Controversy has arisen over prisons giving all of their prisoners, non-Muslims included, halal meat. Moorland Prison near Doncaster, and Ranby Prison near Retford, admitted that all of their meat was halal. Lindholme Prison near Doncaster, said most of its meat was halal, and Hatfield Young Offenders’ Institute also near Doncaster, said some of its supply to all prisoners was also halal. Compassion in World Farming maintains that the practice of serving non-Muslim prisoners with halal meat is against the law and that they are prepared to launch a legal challenge against the Prison Service on the question (Yorkshire Post, 16.04.98). An editorial in the Yorkshire Post (16.04.98) points out that there are anomalies in the law and that the main motive of the prisons where halal meat is served to all prisoners is economy. The Prison Service has launched an investigation into the matter and will issue detailed instructions to prisons as a result. Armley Prison in Leeds confirmed that all poultry served to prisoners was halal, on the grounds of cost, as they have to feed each prisoner on just £1.37 a day (Yorkshire Post, 17.04.98).

Councillor David Otter of Bassetlaw, who has been a member of the prison visitors board at Ranby Prison for the past six years, has resigned over the practice. He said: "The practice has been going on for quite a while and despite attempts by myself to put a stop to it, it is still going on. The actions at the prison upset me in two ways. Firstly, it means that those prisoners of Christian and other faiths are not getting a choice. And there are thousands of animals being killed cruelly and unnecessarily just so that prisons can save money. It is an absolute scandal that in an effort to cut costs, the prison service has broken the law". Martin Pratt, the deputy governor at Ranby, said that none of the prisoners had made any complaints and explained the practical reasons for serving halal meat to all. He said: "If we kept small amounts of halal meat purely for our Muslim customers we would be presented with the problems of storing and cooking it separately. Halal meat becomes expensive if it is bought in small amounts. The greater quantity you buy the more comparable the price is to that of ordinary meat and so economically it is more favourable to use it for all prisoners". The Prison Service is currently producing new guidelines to clarify the issue (Retford Times, 23.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12/13]

 

 

Muslims and organic food

Q-News (01.05.98) has an article by Rabia Spiker about organic food production, in which she argues that Muslims are insufficiently aware of what they eat and how it has been produced. She explains how intensive farming methods are bad for the health of human beings and destructive to the natural environment. She calls for Muslims to broaden their concept of ‘halal’: "Why is it so hard to find organic halal meat when in the Qur’an it is expressly specified that food must not just be ‘halal’ but also ‘tayyab’ (good, pure). In a time just post the mad cow disease scare, I don’t think it is difficult to understand why. It is true that organic produce is a little more expensive than ‘normal’ stuff, mainly because organic farms have so little government support compared with conventional farms, but in a society where we all eat too much anyway I don’t think it would be too hard to substitute too much ‘junk’ food for the right amount of ‘good’ food. Let’s substitute quality for quantity again". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Health

Free circumcision call

Muslims in Waltham Forest are asking their local health authority to provide a free circumcision service. Anwar Chaudhury, co-ordinator of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association, said: "This service used to be available to children but it was withdrawn about eight years ago. They said it had to be done privately. The problem is that there are a lot of people who are poor and on income support and they cannot observe this religious commitment. It’s quite a bit of money to do it privately. I think circumcisions should be free on religious grounds. It’s a requirement of our faith. When you leave it to the private sector they will try and minimise costs. The operations are not as satisfactory as those in hospitals. They do it quickly and there’s no examination afterwards". Redbridge and Waltham Forest Health Authority commented that circumcision for non-medical reasons was not a priority and there has been little local demand for such a service in local hospitals (Chingford Guardian, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Prayer room created

A multifaith prayer room with facilities for Muslims has been created for mentally ill patients at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. Raj Ramkorun, the health trust’s mental health co-ordinator, said: "The aim is to cater for the spiritual needs of all patients as well as their relatives and friends and the staff. It is hoped that by providing this facility spiritual leaders in the community will be encouraged to stay in touch with members during a stay in hospital" (Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Shiatsu and Islam

Q-News (01.05.98) has an article by Michael Rose, a practitioner and teacher of shiatsu. He is a member of the Naqshabandi Sufi order under Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani and can be contacted through Q-News. He stresses the spiritual aspect of this form of healing massage, which originated in Japan. He writes: "Compassion is a key to the heart’s opening. When someone is sincerely trying to help another, through their heart, and without wish for personal gain, a special channel of healing opens. The intention has to be for pure love - original love. Perhaps this quality is most easily felt by women, who as mothers, were the first healers. Another key is to ask for help. There is a special mercy for those who ask for help from the Divine. The more one can recognise one’s need of support, the more the heart can open and receive energy. This, of course, can be a problem for the ego, which likes to be in charge, and independent. If the mind is under the control of the ego, it will block this but if it is under the control of the heart, it will support it. So in order for this channel to open fully, it is important to believe in the existence of heavenly powers and compassion". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Employment

Prayer at Fox’s?

Allegations that Muslim workers at Fox’s biscuit factory have to pray in secret or risk being disciplined and sacked continue (see BMMS for March 1998). Awaaz (01.05.98) comments on information received from anonymous informants that: "Well intentioned initiatives like those developed by Northern Foods [owners of Fox’s Biscuits in Batley] are not much use if there is a climate of fear amongst workers. Who would dare complain if they thought it would mean the loss of their livelihood? And it would seem that there are Muslim workers who genuinely believe this to be the case. Where does this belief come from? Could it be that employees at Fox’s Biscuits have no faith in management to deal with their complaints fairly?" [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bishop Stortford, Hockerill St

The Herts and Essex Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre has been successful in its bid for the lease of Bishop Stortford’s former public library in Hockerill Street (Saffron Walden Observer, 26.03.98, Herts & Essex Observer, Bishop’s Stortford Herald, 02.04.98, Bishop’s Stortford Citizen, 08.04.98, Herts & Essex Observer, 09.04.98). It had taken the council 18 months to decide on a tenant for the old library building (see BMMS for January, February, September and October 1997), but the president of the Islamic association which was granted the lease, Dilwar Ahmed, was happy that a decision had finally been made in favour of the mosque. He said: "They have finally agreed to give it to us and we hope to move in as soon as we sign the lease. We are very pleased" (Saffron Walden Observer, 26.03.98). The town’s mayor, Councillor Tim Page, welcomed the decision. He said: "I say good luck to them. I believe the people who live in this country have the right of association and I can see no objections to them meeting in Bishop’s Stortford" (Herts & Essex Observer, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Blackburn, Willow St

Members of the Plane Tree Road Mosque have applied for planning permission to turn disused offices in Willow Street into a mosque and community centre. There have been some objections on the grounds of traffic congestion and parking difficulties, but members of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning committee have been recommended by planning officers to give approval at their next meeting (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph & Argus, 20.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Blackpool, Central Drive

An application for planning permission by the Islamic Mosque Committee to use the former Cartmell Signs factory site on which to build a mosque has been rejected by Blackpool Council’s planning committee (see BMMS for February and March 1998). Councillors decided that there would be problems of car parking and road safety, and there had been objections from some residents concerning possible noise nuisance. Dr Abdul Ghafoor Baloch, chair of the Islamic Mosque Committee said: "We are saddened by the refusal. This decision means the pressing needs for an adequate facility in which to pray have not yet been met. We hope that in the not too distant future, Blackpool Council will reconsider". Deputy council leader George Bankroft said: "The Muslim community made a valuable contribution to Blackpool and we hope to work constructively with them to try to find a suitable site" (Blackpool Evening Gazette, 29.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Bradford, Darfield St

The contractor employed to build the dome of Bradford’s new mosque in Darfield Street has been taken off the job because his firm were too far behind schedule (see BMMS for February 1998). Khadim Hussain, speaking on behalf of the Jamiat Tabligh-ul-Islam, which is having the mosque built, said: "I am bitterly disappointed that the dome was not completed in Ramadan. It would have helped boost our confidence and fundraising". An alternative contractor is now being sought. Neil Waghorne, designer of the mosque, said: "The work has been slow because the steel people constructing the dome have been very slow" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 25.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Bury, Parker St and Walmersley Road

The dispute over the management of the new mosque in Parker Street (see BMMS for November 1997 and March 1998), built largely because the Khizra Mosque in Walmersley Road was inadequate in size for local needs, continues (Bury Times, 27.03.98, 03.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Coventry burials

Muslims in Coventry want the council to provide burial facilities seven days a week, in order to comply with the traditional Islamic practice of burying the deceased within 24 hours of death. The council claim that this extension of the service would cost an extra £15,000 per year, which they cannot afford. Councillor Shabbir Ahmed said: "This is another example of the way the council is treating the Muslim community" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 03.04.98). However, a compromise was suggested by the environment committee chair, Councillor Margaret Rosher (Labour, Cheylesmore). She said: "We could dedicate part of Lentons Lane cemetery to the Muslim community and they could run it themselves. They do a similar thing in Bradford". Councillor Harry Richards (Labour, St Michael’s) pointed out that for burials to take place at weekends and Bank holidays, the co-operation of the registrar of deaths was necessary. He urged the council to campaign at national level for the seven-day opening of registrar’s offices. Councillor Caron Matchet (Conservative, Wainbody) pointed out that cemeteries in Birmingham, Leicester and Nuneaton open at weekends and Coventry could do more in this respect. She said: "We must do something about this if we are serious about equal opportunities" (Rugby Evening Telegraph, 04.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Crawley, Broadfield

The mayor of Crawley, councillor Mary Mayne, recently paid an official visit to the newly-completed Quawat-Ul-Islam Mosque in Broadwood Rise. Work began on the mosque, which will serve about 500 Muslims from Crawley and Horsham, two years ago. Councillor Mayne was presented with a copy of the Holy Qur’an. The welfare secretary, Javed Quasi, said: "We wanted her to see the mosque once it was all completed. It’s very well used and we have a strong community in Broadfield and Langley Green. The Mayor was really impressed and wanted to know a lot about Islam" (Crawley & Horsham Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Halifax, Hopwood Lane

A revised plan for the expansion of the Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadith mosque into the former Century Works site in Hopwood Lane is to be submitted to the planners (see BMMS for February 1998). In February Calderdale Council’s Development Sub-Committee turned down the application following objections from residents. The new plan includes more parking spaces on site (Halifax Evening Courier, 07.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Kettering, Grasmere Rd

Muslims in Kettering are hoping to turn a former grocery shop into a mosque and madrasah. There is no mosque in the town at present. The secretary of the Kettering Muslim Association, Bisharet Ali, said: "This will be a huge breakthrough for the Kettering Muslim population. But the mosque will not be used exclusively by Muslims. We want to explain our culture to children from schools so we will open the centre up for visits and explain what it’s all about. There is an expanding population of Muslims across Kettering. We are greatly looking forward to the move" (Kettering Evening Telegraph, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Luton burials

Gulam Kadir, the 21 year-old owner director of Ruhani Muslim Funeral Service in Waldeck Road, Luton is now through to the final of the Top Young Shell Livewire entrepreneur of the Year Award scheme (see BMMS for March 1998). The final for the whole of the UK will be held in London on 16 June (Luton News, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Luton, Bury Park Rd

Muslims in Luton have put in an offer for the orthodox synagogue in Bury Park Road (see BMMS for August and October 1997). It is presently used by the town’s 250 orthodox Jews for worship and youth activities. Cyril Davis, president of the Luton Hebrew Congregation, said: "It’s been on the market for years but this is the first definite offer we’ve had. There is no problem about dealing with the Muslims. Unlike the rest of the world, we are on good terms with them". The negotiating price is between £150,000 to £200,000. Built in 1911 as a cinema, the building became a synagogue shortly after the second world war, at which time the Jewish community numbered 1,200 people (Luton on Sunday, 12.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Lye

The president of the mosque in Lye, in the West Midlands, Mohammed Akram, was recently attacked with a shoe during prayers by a worshipper (see BMMS for November 1997). At the time of the attack, the mosque was full, with over 100 worshippers present. Mr Akram suffered a cut to the head and an ambulance was called but he declined to go to hospital. The police were called to break up a fight after other worshippers joined in the scuffle. A man was arrested at the scene and is due to appear in court soon (Eastern Eye, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Northgate

The Millat-e-Jaffarya mosque, which was a bungalow used without planning permission as a place of worship in Cloverlands, Northgate, has now been closed by the council (see BMMS for February 1998). Councillor Linda Seekings told a development control meeting: "We have got it absolutely right - it’s an area where there’s no room for this sort of thing. It’s a very small road with enormous parking problems and with the amount of people going down there it would have been horrendous. I’m sure what they are doing down there is for the best - but not in Cloverlands". Complaints had been received from neighbours about noise, disturbance and parking problems, and when the Millat-e-Jaffarya applied for retrospective planning permission to use the premises as an official place of worship, it was refused (Crawley Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Palmers Green, Oakthorpe Rd

Designs for the mosque on the former playing fields at Oakthorpe Road have now been submitted to Enfield Council (see BMMS for April and December 1997; January 1998). Anyone interested in seeing them should contact Enfield’s planning department, giving the reference TP/98/0359 (Enfield Advertiser, 08.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Portsmouth, Victoria Rd North

Muslims in Portsmouth are drawing up plans to convert a former bingo hall in Victoria Road North into a mosque (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust

Q-News (01.05.98) reports that the proposal to build a mosque on The Broadway in Southall (see BMMS for March, May, September and October 1997; January and March 1998), quite close to the Ramgarhia Sikh Centre, has received the approval of the World Sikh Federation. They wrote to Ealing borough’s planning department: "The federation strongly supports this application as dedicated to serve the needs of both Sikh and Muslim communities. This development is long needed". However, Ealing Council has again delayed making a decision on the mosque. The Southall Gazette (17.04.98) reports that: "Muslim anger at the delay has led to worshippers apparently using the building for prayers in breach of planning regulations". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

South Shields, Baring St

A power struggle over the control of the mosque run by the South Tyneside Bangladesh Muslim Cultural Association resulted in fighting, with one man needing hospital treatment (South Shields Gazette, 07.04.98, 08.04.98). Police were called to the incident, which is believed to be linked to forthcoming elections for the mosque’s management committee. There have been similar violent confrontations at this mosque before. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Trafford, St Bride St

Planning permission has been granted for a new purpose-built mosque to be constructed in St Bride Street, Old Trafford. There will be no externally broadcast call to prayer. Michael Crowley, Trafford’s senior assistant director of planning said: "It was felt in this locality it would not really be appropriate to have amplified calls to prayer, or calls to prayer at all for that matter. Old Trafford Muslim Society were happy with that planning condition. We hope the mosque will meet the needs of Muslims in the area". The new St Bride Street complex will replace the existing mosque in Stamford Street, which will close as an independent place of worship (Manchester Metro News, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Walthamstow burials

A mourning Muslim couple were attacked with stones and sworn at when they visited the grave of their deceased relative in the Muslim Burial Ground in Folly Lane, Walthamstow (see BMMS for March 1998). Alan Smith and his wife, Resham Mirza-Smith were tending the grave of her father when the incident happened. She explained: "We saw some youths poking sticks into freshly dug graves and shouting obscenities. When my husband challenged them they started throwing stones at him before running away. It is disgusting that you cannot go and pay respects to your loved ones in peace. I am now too scared to go there on my own in case I am attacked". The council admits that there have been many complaints about vandalism and the desecration of graves in the cemetery in Folly Lane and is hoping to install CCTV in the area (Chingford Guardian, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Wood Green burials

The Muslim burial ground in Wood Green has won Haringey Council a commendation in the Commission for Racial Equality’s awards for local authorities. The burial facility was opened in 1995, following extensive consultation with various religious groups in the area (Hornsey & Crouch End Journal, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

back to contents

British Muslims Monthly Survey for April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Southall update 

Sheep slaughter controversy 

Liverpool school merger 

Nike shoes controversy 

 

 

Reports

 

Community

Eid stories 

Finance developments 

Poisoner case 

Football update 

Rushdie update 

Oxford centre 

Millennium celebrations 

Sufi music 

MCB letters 

Nuneaton centre plans 

Islamic Relief tour 

Tipton grant 

Plans for July celebration 

Pakistan National Day 

Ahmadiyya meeting 

Yorkshire scam 

Holy vegetables again!! 

Deportation battle 

Islam discussion 

Aga Khan title threat? 

Oath rebuke 

Media awards 

Islam and media discussion 

Islamic mission interview 

Death of London-based poet 

Uxbridge plans 

Ahmadiyya Eid 

Shelton charity gift 

Faith in prison 

Kirklees social services plans 

Qur’an event planned 

Art auctions 

 

 

Education

Muslim school funding 

Luton house plans

Coventry schools 

Arabic lessons 

College planning application 

Mixed swimming protest 

Glasgow Muslim school 

College prayer room fight 

Oxford day school 

Oadby school anniversary 

Fight to save madrasa 

Muslim children in Cornwall 

 

 

Politics

Dissidents in UK 

Iraq sanctions 

G8 Summit contribution 

Stickers investigation 

Passover gift 

Councillors defect 

Leicester mayor gift 

Prime minister comment 

 

 

Rasicm

Crime and Disorder Bill 

Race relations appointments 

Councillor denounces racism 

 

 

Women

Muslim women study 

Nuneaton fund raising 

Married bliss? 

 

 

Youth

Young women’s view of racism 

Ahmadiyya charity fundraising 

Muslim Youth League office 

 

 

Interfaith

Grimsby Eid celebrations 

 

 

Halal

Abattoir planning application 

Jail provision controversy 

Muslims and organic food 

 

 

Health

Free circumcision call 

Prayer room created 

Shiatsu and Islam 

 

 

Employment

Prayer at Fox’s? 

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bishop Stortford, Hockerill St 

Blackburn, Willow St 

Blackpool, Central Drive 

Bradford, Darfield St 

Bury, Parker St and Walmersley Road 

Coventry burials 

Crawley, Broadfield 

Halifax, Hopwood Lane 

Kettering, Grasmere Rd 

Luton burials 

Luton, Bury Park Rd 

Lye 

Northgate 

Palmers Green, Oakthorpe Rd 

Portsmouth, Victoria Rd North 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust 

South Shields, Baring St 

Trafford, St Bride St 

Walthamstow burials 

Wood Green burials 

 

 

 

Features

Southall update

Far fewer arrests were made by Southall police at the Sikh festival of Vaisakhi and the Muslim festival of Eid this year as compared with last (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for February, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and December 1997 and March 1998). At Eid-ul-Adha this year, police arrested 13 Muslims for disorder and threatening behaviour, compared with 50 last year. Around 20 Sikhs were arrested at this year’s Vaisakhi celebrations, compared with 40 last year. Most arrests at these festivals are for disorderly behaviour or drunkenness. In addition, police believe they averted possible violence by promptly dispersing a group of young Sikhs who had gathered outside the Lancaster Hall on Lancaster Road, where Muslims were holding a meeting. Police commander Superintendent Mike Smythe said: "The Sikhs were gathered with the intention of going into the hall. We found out what was going on and prevented this happening". Speaking of the difficulties of policing public events which might end in communal violence, Mike Smythe said: "All we can do is try and minimise the amount of disorder. We can’t put a wall around the town. The main Vaisakhi events, including the procession and the fair, were excellent and very well attended. It is a shame that young people have to take to the streets in this way". Sohan Singh Sumra, vice-president of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha temple said: "Boys will be boys, whether they are Muslims or Sikhs. As far as the community as a whole is concerned, we are one" (Southall Gazette, 17.04.98).

On 30 March Channel Four showed "The Peacemaker", a documentary filmed over several weeks last year, which showed the efforts of Dudley Weeks, an international peacekeeper, who was trying to help young Sikhs and Muslims in Slough resolve their conflicts (South Bucks & Burnham Express, 26.03.98, Rossendale Free Press, Southall Gazette, Accrington Observer, 27.03.98, Rochdale Observer, 28.03.98). Mukesh Solenki, a youth and community worker in Slough who appears in the film and co-operated with the programme makers, felt that, although there had been some positive results from the exercise, on the whole it was an opportunity missed. He told the South Bucks & Burnham Express (26.03.98): "With the presence of Dudley and Channel Four pumping money into it, it was a real opportunity to create some kind of peace and alliance. It has given a platform for people to speak and make a connection but at the end of the day, it is a film. It was a wonderful opportunity but it was missed. I came away thinking we could have done more... I have a lot of respect for Dudley. He shows there is a will among these groups, who have a desire to get together and not to fight". Mr Weeks, who has worked as an independent mediator in over 90 countries, including Bosnia, Northern Ireland and South Africa, returned to Slough in February this year to give classes in peaceful conflict resolution. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 1]

 

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Sheep slaughter controversy

A great many local newspapers have reported on the planned ritual slaughter of 60 sheep at S. Macer’s Farm on the A129 Brentwood to Billericay Road. Animal rights groups, including Compassion in World Farming, the RSPCA and Viva, alerted the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) to the planned open-air sacrifice but were told the event had been cancelled. The animal rights groups were suspicious that this was not the case, as they were aware that the sheep had been specially purchased and transported to the farm during the night preceding Eid. As the killing began, the animal rights activists stormed the barn where the slaughtering was taking place and the Muslims fled. Angela Petro, a campaigner from Kent Action Against Live Exports, said: "We saw the metal cradle with fresh blood on it and there was also fresh blood on the yard so we know the animals were killed. Words can’t describe how I feel about this but we did manage to save some sheep because the Muslims left when they saw us" (Brentwood Weekly News, 10.04.98). Over 50 sheep were in a nearby field.

At Palmer’s farm near Upminster protestors were unsuccessful at stopping the slaughter of 1,200 sheep for the Eid sacrifice. Police were out in force to keep the peace between Muslims who were slaughtering their animals and the animal rights protestors (Romford, Hornchurch & Upminster Recorder, 10.04.98). Many of the national papers have concentrated more on the calls for a ban on the live export of animals for Eid slaughter in France (Guardian, 02.04.98), (see BMMS for March 1998). However, the Mirror (08.04.98), reporting on the outdoor slaughter in Billericay and one inside a slaughterhouse in Cranmer, Essex, where Muslims could kill the animal themselves, said: "An RSPCA spokesman said the practice was outlawed in the EU and called for a ban in Britain".

Muslims at the Dawoodi Bohra Mosque in Northolt have denied rumours that they were going to sacrifice animals on the premises at Eid-Ul-Adha. A spokesperson for the mosque, which was opened last year by Prince Charles, said: "Everybody just spent the day praying. There is no foundation to any of these rumours. We do not sacrifice animals in this country". Hazel Furzer, of Court Farm Road, Northolt, whose husband Bernard Furzer had been one of the leaders of the campaign opposing the mosque, said: "We were just concerned because there had been certain rumours going around, and the mosque was not licensed to slaughter animals" (Greenford & Northolt Gazette, 10.04.98).

Following these events there has been much subsequent comment in the press, often in the form of letters to the editor (Romford Recorder, 17.04.98, Billericay & Wickford Gazette, Burnley Citizen, 23.04.98, Romford Recorder, 24.04.98). Most of the correspondents are opposed not only to the events at Eid, where some Muslims who are not trained as butchers slaughtered the animals they had bought, but to all halal killing of animals, because, in Britain at least, it is carried out without pre-stunning. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 1/2]

 

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Liverpool school merger

The proposal to merge Tiber and Granby Primary Schools and to create a new school with a predominately Islamic ethos on the site of St Bernard’s RC Primary out of all three schools (see BMMS for February 1998) continues to have its vociferous proponents and opponents (Liverpool Echo, 30.03.98, 01.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). The chair of Liverpool’s education committee, Councillor Neville Bann, said: "I think it is an exciting project and we need to get all concerned parties to speak to each other about the provision of a school that all members of the community will want to support". However, David Leach, chair of Tiber Street School governors and a former Labour councillor, opposed the plan: "We are against the removal of any county primary school provision from the area" (Liverpool Echo, 01.04.98). Councillor Bann told Muslim News (24.04.98): "The intention is to open a new school in which Muslims will, for the first time, as of right, have a say in the governance of the proposed school. This is a very innovative idea, in which all sections of the community, Muslim, Christian and those who have no belief, will be able to work together to produce a first class school".

The Guardian (29.04.98) has published details of how the school will function. Vivek Chaudhary, education correspondent, explains: "The school is due to open in September next year to cater for up to 420 pupils aged between 5 and 11 in the inner city Granby area, where most of the city’s Muslim community lives. It will be open to all faiths, but its timetable will include regular Islamic assemblies, the teaching of Islamic history, and religious education with an emphasis on Islam. It will offer food suitable for Muslim pupils, and give holidays for Muslim festivals. An attempt will be made to have a significant number of Muslim school governors". Ann Melville of the Liverpool authority said: "This will not be a grant maintained or a Muslim school. It will be a regular, local authority administered school with an Islamic ethos. We will have the same admissions policy as we have for our other schools. There is a significant Muslim population in the Granby and Toxteth area of Liverpool and we wanted to have a school that reflected the make-up of the area where full recognition is given to the Islamic faith". Akram Khan-Cheema, an education consultant involved in setting up the school said: "It is a very exciting and imaginative proposal. The school will not just be for Muslims and will offer something for the whole community, regardless of their religion. It will give others a chance to see what an Islamic ethos is all about". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 2]

 

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Nike shoes controversy

Trainers manufactured by Nike with a logo which resembles the Arabic word for Allah are once again on sale in Britain (see BMMS for April and June 1997), a year after protests by Muslims forced the company to withdraw them from sale worldwide (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 17.04.98, 18.04.98, 20.04.98). The shoes were discovered by Zafar Afsar, aged 20, a student who works part-time at JJB Sports in Bradford. He discovered that, under a peelable sticker with the traditional Nike logo, there was the original flame logo. He said: "I went on the shop floor and peeled another sticker off. They peel like a banana. I’m just a kid off the street and I can’t see anyone with a bit of knowledge about Islam agreeing to those stickers. They should have taken them off the shelves straight away". A Nike spokesperson said: "We sought and obtained approval for a heat-sealed, non-removable adhesive to be stuck on the back of the shoes. If there is a problem with the adhesive coming off, making it offensive again then we have no hesitation recalling them" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 17.04.98). Several Islamic organisations are calling for a total boycott of all Nike products worldwide until the trainers are withdrawn and an apology issued (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 18.04.98, 20.04.98).

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus (28.04.98) and Eastern Eye (01.05.98) under the headings "Shoe giant on track for logo meeting" and "The sacred shoe cover-up" respectively, report that discussions are continuing between Nike and British Muslim organisations. Ghulam Rasul, president of the Bradford Council for Mosques, was confident that talks would result in a permanent solution: "We are pleased Nike has recognised what they have done wasn’t right. We hope to make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 28.04.98). The article in Eastern Eye (01.05.98) however, was less optimistic that a permanent solution satisfactory to the British Muslim organisations would be reached. They report that the sports equipment chain JJB had no intention of withdrawing the shoes and that Nike claim that they put stickers over the offensive logo on advice from the Council on American Islamic Relations and would only withdraw the trainers if the stickers were coming off. Mohammed Amran, a newly-appointed Commissioner for Racial Equality from Bradford (see Report in the Racism section of this issue of BMMS), commented: "They [Nike] realised what the logo was but are stupid enough to do the same thing again. It’s a matter of respect. You don’t put God’s name on clothes and shoes." [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 2/3]

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Reports

 

Community

Eid stories

A great many local newspapers have reported on the celebration of the festival of Eid-ul-Adha, which marks the culmination of the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Colchester Evening Gazette (06.04.98) headed its article "Have a Chinese instead" and listed all the Muslim-run restaurants which would be closed for a day’s holiday on Eid, which fell on 7 April this year. The Northampton Chronicle & Echo (09.04.98) reported that many Muslims who attended Eid prayers at the George Street mosque came out to find they had been given parking tickets. One worshipper, Mr A Kuddus, said he did not think this had dampened people’s spirits: "Many people got parking tickets that morning but they do not care because it is Eid. It is a fresh start and a time to forgive grievances". In a comment column in the same paper on 14 April, the editor repeats this anecdote and adds: "I wonder whether Christians in a similar situation would be so philosophical. I doubt it". In Hammersmith, the celebrations had an interfaith flavour, as Eid and Baishaki, the Sikh spring festival, were celebrated together at the Shanti Centre in Queen Caroline Street, a day care centre for elderly Asian people. Harsha Patel, Balbir Chokar and Bashart Latif were the organisers. Harsha said: "Everyone is happy to celebrate the two festivals together and everyone really enjoyed themselves. We gave out sweets and drinks after the dancing which everyone also enjoyed" (Hammersmith, Fulham & Shepherds Bush Gazette, 10.04.98). Many of these reports concentrate on the ways in which Muslim women have celebrated the festival, with singing, dancing and fashion shows. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3]

 

 

Finance developments

The Ethical Consumer (01.04.98), in an article which is a round-up of news on ethical investment issues, has a small piece about the interest-free house purchase scheme launched by the Islamic Investment Banking Unit (IIBU) last year (see BMMS for January and February 1998). The Independent on Sunday (26.04.98) has a round-up of news about Islamic savings, investment and mortgage schemes available to customers in Britain. It points out that, even from some Muslims, there is criticism about the management of some of these arrangements, such as the Halal Mutual Investment Services personal investments scheme. The article quotes Mohammed Rafiq, a member of the Islamic Party of Great Britain, writing in their journal Common Sense: "They call themselves Halal and then state that their business is...an Islamic investment management partnership, but not one of their directors is a Muslim!". Zaki Badawi, speaking in his capacity as chair of the Shariah Council of Great Britain, disagreed with this stance, saying: "If an Islamic financial services company follows certain rules sanctioned by a Sharia board then that’s fine. If people follow them, then their behaviour is Islamic". David Colclough, marketing director for the United Bank of Kuwait in Britain said: "We want to bring the Islamic system to Britain, allowing the man in the street to participate".

The Islamic Investment Banking Unit, part of the United Bank of Kuwait (UBK), has recently set up the Student Property Leasing Fund, which aims to raise £30 million to invest in student housing for more than 2,000 students in the UK (Guardian, 11.04.98, Birmingham Post, 13.04.98) Eastern Eye, 17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98). Richard Thomas, deputy chief executive of UBK, said that the fund has been approved as operating within the principles of shari’ah by the Fiqh Academy in Jeddah. He added: "This is the first ever fund that will be dedicated to students’ property in the UK which will be let to students. It will encourage occupancy among Muslim students" (Eastern Eye,17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3]

 

 

Poisoner case

The Yorkshire Post (03.04.98) has a report on the case which was before the Court of Appeal in which Zoora Shah, jailed for life in December 1993 for the murder of Mohammed Azam, brother of the leader of the Bradford Council for Mosques, is appealing on the grounds of diminished responsibility (see BMMS for March 1998). The case was the first in Britain in 23 years to involve poisoning with arsenic. A witness for Ms Shah, consultant psychiatrist Maurice Lipsedge of Guy’s Hospital, London, told the court that he had no doubt that she was suffering from a depressive illness at the time she killed Mr Azam. He said: "That could well have put her in a state of mind where she was feeling pessimistic, feeling hopeless and helpless about her position, feeling desperate, seeing no way out and then being liable to a distortion of her judgement". Ms Shah has, however, lost her appeal against the conviction and her demand for a retrial has been refused (Daily Telegraph, Daily Jang, 01.05.98). On 30 April, the Court of Appeal in London decided that it did not accept Ms Shah’s argument that the balance of her mind was disturbed when she poisoned Mr Azam with arsenic. A consultant psychiatrist, who had examined Ms Shah on two occasions before her trial, said that deliberate fatal poisoning of adults was not compatible with clinical depression. The judge commented on this evidence from an expert witness that: "The force of that point is easily grasped by a non-medical mind especially where, as here, the poisoning is repeated". Ms Shah’s daughter Naseem, aged 24, said that the family felt "total devastation" at the outcome. She said of the British justice system: "It stinks. It is unfair and it is unjust". Southall Black Sisters, who have been campaigning for Zoora Shah’s release, commented: "We are very saddened and angry at today’s judgement. It is a set back for all women who suffer domestic violence whatever their racial and cultural origins. The Court of Appeal saw fit today to deny Zoora Shah the justice that she desperately deserved. Instead, in its time-honoured fashion, it has chosen a course which shows that male prejudice and lack of compassion for women who suffer domestic violence is alive and well within the legal system" (Daily Jang, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 3/4]

 

 

Football update

Reporting continues in both local and national papers (Rotherham Advertiser, 27.03.98, Eastern Eye, 03.04.98, Asian Times, 07.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98) on the footballs which have the Islamic profession of faith, the Shahada, printed on them (see BMMS for March 1998). Councillor Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, who had spotted the balls on sale in the town, said: "The wording of the verse is the basic fundamental belief of all Muslims and is the most sacred of the five pillars of Islam. The idea of it being on a football has caused offence to people" (Rotherham Advertiser, 27.03.98). The balls have now been withdrawn from sale and the wholesalers alerted to the problem. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4]

 

 

Rushdie update

The announcement on 7 April that Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses (see BMMS for January, February and March 1998) is to be published in paperback has occasioned renewed death threats to be made against the author (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 08.04.98, Leicester Mercury, 11.04.98, Independent, 13.04.98, Eastern Eye, 17.04.98, Asian Times, 21.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98). At the same time, critics and publishers are divided on the merits of Fatima’s Scarf by David Caute, a novel which satirises the Rushdie affair and Muslim politics in Britain (Daily Telegraph, 04.04.98, Observer, 17.04.98, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 13.04.98). D J Taylor, who reviewed Fatima’s Scarf for the Guardian, told the Bradford Telegraph & Argus: "I enjoyed it but it isn’t a great modern novel. He has obviously done his research and some parts of it are very funny. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it does inflame sensibilities in Bradford - it is undiscriminating in its attacks. His point is that no-one came out of the Rushdie affair with any credit - everyone behaved badly, including the author". However, the Daily Telegraph (04.04.98) reports that: "Ziauddin Sardar in this week’s New Statesman...calls the novel ‘trash’ and says: ‘The offensive passages seem judiciously worked out to cause just the right amount of outrage among Muslims and keep Caute on the safe side of a fatwa’". The Independent on Sunday Magazine (25.04.98) has printed a critical review of the book. The reviewer, who is not named, believes that David Caute was forced to publish the novel himself, not, as Mr Caute claims, because publishers feared reprisals since the book is based on the Rushdie affair, but because it lacks any literary merit. The reviewer writes: "Stilted and stale language swills aimlessly from one page to the next. The real problem is that though there are dozens of characters (too many), all speak with one bilious voice, that of David Caute. He can never quite manage to rise above himself and the result is painfully unreadable".

Prospect (01.05.98) has an article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown marking the tenth anniversary of the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Here she assesses not only the negative aspects of the Rushdie affair in terms of its impact on Muslims in Britain and race relations, but also sees some positive, if perhaps unintended effects. Talking about ethnic minority writers post-Rushdie, she says: "...there is a new confidence about what we are saying. You can see it in the television series ‘Goodness Gracious Me’, you sense it in the musings of the writer Aamer Hussein and the radio plays of Rukhsana Ahmad. But I wonder if anyone will notice and whether we who have been angry for so long, will find it in our hearts to feel a sense of gratitude to a writer [Rushdie] who opened up a box on which we had been sitting for far too long? Most of all, I wish we could put down our weapons and talk". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4]

 

 

Oxford centre

The Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, which had been threatened by Merton College with legal action concerning its plans to build on a site next to the Magdalen College Deer Park (see BMMS for February, March, April, May and June 1997; January, February and March 1998), has now been offered a new site on King’s Mill Lane by Magdalen College (Oxford Mail, 18.04.98, Observer, 19.04.98, The Times, Daily Telegraph, 20.04.98). Dr David Browning, registrar of the centre, said: "We will have to make some adaptations because of the new site. But we hope its design will be very similar to the original plan" (Oxford Mail, 18.04.98, Daily Telegraph, 20.04.98). The chair of Oxford council’s planning committee, Maureen Christian, commented: "It’s a good place for an Islamic centre. This is an amenity that Oxford, as an international centre, would welcome. The site is in a conservation area, but the playing field is not in the green belt. We think that the centre’s tower would be an asset to the Oxford skyline". The centre’s registrar, Dr David Browning, said: "We will have to make some adaptations because of the new site. But we hope its design will be very similar to the original plan. The centre is very grateful to Magdalen College, which has always supported us" (Oxford Times, 24.04.98). Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) both say in their columns: "The elegant Islamic designs of the structure will set off the traditional splendour of Oxford’s Gothic colleges to stunning effect and will draw sight-seers in their droves. Many of the academics who raised strenuous objections to the scheme have merely displayed their own fear of change. Well, change is inevitable and these people need to climb down from their ivory towers and join the real world". Eastern Eye (24.04.98) has an artist’s impression of what the central courtyard of the college will look like. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 4/5]

 

 

Millennium celebrations

Fuad Nahdi, editor of Q-News, has an article in the Independent (25.04.98) musing on the relevance of the Millennium celebrations for Muslims, the various opinions amongst Muslims in Britain on the question, and the Muslim presence in the Millennium Dome (see BMMS for February 1998). He writes: "When it comes to celebrating the year 2000 British Muslims are caught in a moral, theological and spiritual quandary. Do they participate in an event that is clearly a celebration of the secular and the mundane over the spiritual and the eternal? For many Muslims the chosen main exhibit - that of a huge human form - is evidence enough of the idolatrous nature of the event. Furthermore, the involvement of lottery money in the project makes it even less spiritually attractive". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Sufi music

Peter Culshaw, who was involved in last summer’s Sufi Music Village festival in London (see BMMS for May and June 1997), has an article in Q-News (01.05.98) concerning the increasing appreciation of, and exposure to Sufi music in the west. He notes the world-wide popularity of the recently-deceased Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; the interest in Qawwali; and "that Philip Glass has recently set Rumi (in an opera entitled Monsters of Grace, to be premiered at the Barbican theatre from May 19th-23rd) comes as no surprise". His article concludes: "Sufi music is music of adoration, of longing for the Divine; music that can open the heart. It is perhaps timely then, as we approach the new millennium, that the West is beginning to get a hint of the magnitude of the lessons we cab learn from the Sufis". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

MCB letters

Q-News (01.05.98) has printed several readers’ letters on the subject of the formation of the Muslim Council of Britain (see BMMS for November and December 1997; March 1998) and Q-News’ reporting on the MCB. The letters are predominately optimistic about the role of the MCB and condemnatory of Q-News’ reporting of the launch. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Nuneaton centre plans

Councillors in Nuneaton have disregarded the advice of planning officers to refuse permission for the Nuneaton Khalifa Muslim Society to double the size of their premises in Edward Street, Nuneaton (see BMMS for March 1998). Councillor Robin Hood said: "I think we should go against the recommendation to refuse this application. They should be commended for wanting to provide a facility such as this for the community...There are no letters of objection and quite frankly this society have done an awful lot for the local community and are here to stay. I move we formally accept the application". The additional facilities will be used for training, advice sessions and small gatherings (Heartland Evening News, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Islamic Relief tour

Islamic Relief held a concert tour, visiting Birmingham, London, Manchester and Glasgow in mid-April. Funds raised from the tour were in aid of Islamic Relief’s Orphan Welfare Programme (see BMMS for March 1998). Groups performing included the rappers, Mecca 2 Madina; nasheed singers Al Bashaar and Al Isra; Sham, who have recently worked with Islamic Relief to produce an album for charity, entitled "Our Children, Our Future"; and a Palestinian dance group (Eastern Eye, 03.04.98, Asian Times, 07.04.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). Najma Ebrahim, reviewing the concert at Wembley on 11 April, wrote: "For the Muslims present at the event, it was an eye-opener to ‘halal’ music, allaying any doubts many have as regards to music in Islam. The turnout and success of the day [in terms of fund-raising and recruiting sponsors for orphans] go to prove that such events are beneficial and needed for families to go together as a unit and enjoy themselves" (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Tipton grant

Tipton’s Park Estate Al-Islah community group has been awarded a grant of £2,800 from the Challenge Partnership. It will be used for information technology, including a scanner, printer and language packs. The Community Trust’s president, Ahmadul Haque said: "The aim of the trust is to improve community life in the area. A team of volunteers will translate information" (Sandwell Chronicle, 27.03.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Plans for July celebration

Muslims in Merton are already planning how they will celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, which falls in July this year. The Merton Islamic Trust and the British Muslim Association of Merton have planned to hold a celebratory event in Wimbledon Community Centre. For more information, contact Ausaj Ahmad on 0181 947 7633 (Wimbledon News, 03.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Pakistan National Day

The Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan visited Leicester as part of a series of events held to make Pakistan’s Independence Day. Alam Brohi addressed members of the Pakistan Muslim League. The Deputy High Commissioner said: "We are here to celebrate the National day of Pakistan. March 23 is memorable because that was when the resolution was passed by the All India Muslim League in Lahore to create Pakistan. We remember August 14, 1947, because that was when Pakistan achieved independence". Manzoor Moghul, chair of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, thanked Mr Brohi for his service to the Pakistani community in Britain over the past three years and said that Mr Brohi was now likely to be transferred to Portugal (Leicester Mercury, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5]

 

 

Ahmadiyya meeting

At the end of March, members of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Association held a gathering of their Bengali-speaking members at the Ahmadiyya centre in Gressenhall Road, Wandsworth, London (Wandsworth Borough News, 02.04.98, 03.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 5/6]

 

 

Yorkshire scam

A conwoman has been cheating Asian families in Yorkshire by taking their religious artefacts, saying she is going to have them blessed and substituting them for poor quality fakes. Inspector Gareth Perrott of Halifax police said: "Some of these offences took place in January but were not discovered until over a month later. This woman has visited houses and preyed on the religious beliefs of people. She has said she will get the originals blessed but is swapping them for fakes. We have reason to believe that this woman may have been operating in other areas of the country and I would appeal to anyone who has been visited by her to come forward to police in the strictest confidence. It could save further anguish if we can make an arrest". A spokesperson from a mosque in Bradford was doubtful if the victims were Muslims. He said: "This sounds like fraud and slowly people seem to be losing their respect for religious rites. It’s making fun of religion. We in the Muslim faith do not worship idols, we have a simple prayer mat, but Hindus and Sikhs do" (Yorkshire Post, 04.04.98). Similar deceptions may have been also carried out in Sheffield and Dewsbury, according to local police. Anyone with any information should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 (Yorkshire Post, 06.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Holy vegetables again!!

Staff at the Forts of India restaurant in Whitefield, Manchester, were very happy when they discovered an aubergine whose seeds, when the vegetable was sliced open, spell "Allah". The restaurant owner, Sheik Abdul Haris, contacted his cousin, Gias Uddin Choudhury, who is secretary of the British Bangladeshi Society of the UK, with the news. Mr Choudhury said: "It’s a great honour for all of us. God is not only for Muslim people, He is for everyone. People all over the country will be talking about this aubergine for a l ong time" (Radcliffe Times, 08.04.98, Bury Times, 09.04.98, Prestwich & Whitefield Guide, 09.04.98) The Daily Star (14.04.98) reported that hundreds of Muslims were flocking to the restaurant to see the aubergine. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Deportation battle

Javed Iqbal, who fled Pakistan six years ago because of threats following his marriage to a woman from a different Muslim sect, is now facing deportation. A campaign has been launched in his home town of Bury to save Mr Iqbal, his wife and four children, two of whom were born in Britain, from being removed from Britain. A petition with 4,000 signatures and hundreds of letters have been sent to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw and Bury’s council and MPs David Chaytor and Ivan Lewis are backing the campaign. Mr Iqbal said: "I’m very pleased by the way everyone has reacted. I never expected so much support" (Manchester Evening News, 11.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Islam discussion

The World Affairs Group of the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution has launched its summer programme with a talk on Islam to be given by Dr Basil Mustafa. Dr Mustafa is a lecturer at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (Bath Chronicle, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Aga Khan title threat?

The advisors of the Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of over four million Ismaili Muslims world-wide, are concerned that, with reforms to the British royal family, he may be deprived of his title "His Highness". The Queen granted the Aga Khan, a British subject, the title of His Highness in 1957. The Aga Khan is writing to the Queen and Tony Blair about the matter. There are an estimated 11,000 Ismailis in Britain (Daily Mail, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Oath rebuke

A defendant who described himself as a "devout Muslim" was criticised by a judge at Bolton Crown Court because he swore the Christian version of the witness oath, rather than the Muslim one. Judge Bruce Macmillan was hearing Zoherali Majli giving evidence in his own defence. He had pleaded not guilty to a charge of burglary but admitted a second offence of making false declarations when applying for a job as a postman. He was found guilty and jailed for six months (Bolton Evening News, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Media awards

Q-News (01.05.98) reports that there were only five Muslim names on the shortlist for the Ethnic Minority Media Awards, although there were many Hindu and Sikh names. However, Shami Ahmed, founder of the fashion firm Joe Bloggs, and the boxer, Prince Naseem Hamed, have both been nominated for awards in marketing and advertising and Shami Ahmed is also in the running for the Business Personality of the Year award. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6]

 

 

Islam and media discussion

The Al-Khoei Foundation in London recently hosted a discussion on Islam and the media. The meeting was chaired by Edward Mortimer of the Financial Times and participants included, amongst others, Hosni Khashaba, Roger Hardy of the BBC World Service, Susannah Tarbush, Claire Spencer, Kate Clarke, Michael Wood, Saeed Shehabi, Peter Clarke of the British Council, Ali Allawi, Gabriele vom Brueck, Majeed Alawi, Abdullah Hammoda of ash-Sharq al-Awsat, Fadi Ismaili of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre, Helen Seaford of the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on the Future of a Multi-Ethnic Britain, Huda al-Rasheed of the BBC and Yousef al-Khoei and Nadeem Kazmi of the Al-Khoei Foundation. Nadeem Kazmi was the author of the report of this roundtable discussion, which appeared in the monthly publication Dialogue (01.04.98). He wrote that: "Fadi Ismail of the Middle East Broadcasting Centre found some of the most interesting sayings on Islam and Muslims incidentally emanating from the United States via the internet. What was, according to him, sometimes missing in the Western media was depicting the sense of siege and feeling among many Muslims of humiliation and of being terrorised. Alas, only extremist groups in the age of the soundbite, and sensationalism, were being given the media spotlight. He suggested a website concerned with monitoring media on the internet". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 6/7]

 

 

Islamic mission interview

Luton on Sunday (12.04.98) has an interview with Syed Rizvi, general secretary of the International Islamic Mission and a resident of Luton since 1967. Syed Rizvi teaches Arabic, Urdu and the Qur’an and liaises with local prisons, education authorities and hospitals on matters concerning Muslims and Asians. Generally, Syed Rizvi felt optimistic about the situation of Asians and Muslims in the town. He was asked about his voluntary work as a Muslim prison visitor and then: "Do you think it is true that more Asian youngsters than others get in trouble with the police?". To this question he replied: "I think in this day and age many Asian boys are getting more involved with petty crimes and there are various reasons. The main reason, in my opinion, is a lack of parental care. Parents don’t bother to know what their children are doing. They are busy making money and a lot of children are left on their own. The youngsters do all sorts of silly things and get involved in crime as a consequence". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Death of London-based poet

The Financial Times (01.05.98) carries an obituary to Nizar Qabbani, an internationally-known poet of Syrian origin who died on 30 April of a heart attack in his London home, aged 75. Funeral prayers for Nizar Qabbani were due to be held at the Central Mosque at Regent’s Park on 1 May. Qabbani was originally a diplomat with the Syrian diplomatic service, and served at embassies in Paris, London, Beijing and Madrid, before leaving in 1966 to devote his time to writing poetry. He was the author of almost thirty books of poetry and a regular contributor to the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, Al-Hayat. Abdou Wazen, a Beirut literary critic, said: "His poetry was more powerful than all the Arab regimes put together, although it entailed only moral power". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Uxbridge plans

Trustees of the Muslim Community Centre in Uxbridge, Middlesex, are applying for planning permission to demolish their present building, which is a pair of semi-detached houses, and replace it with a new building. Planning officers are recommending refusal, on the grounds that parking provision would be inadequate and the style of the building would be out of keeping with the area (Gazette Uxbridge & West Drayton, Harfield Gazette, 15.04.98). The community centre’s treasurer, Mohammad Hoque, said: "There will not be many cars coming to the centre and we don’t think there will be a traffic problem. We need this new centre and will fight for it. We will reapply for planning permission if the plan is turned down by the council" (Gazette Uxbridge & West Drayton, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Ahmadiyya Eid

Ahmadiyya Muslims from all over Britain, numbering more than 6,000 recently came to Islamabad, the Ahmadiyya Muslim centre at Tilford, to celebrate Eid-Ul-Adha together. The gathering was broadcast worldwide on the Ahmadiyya 24-hour television channel (Farnham Herald, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Shelton charity gift

On Good Friday the Islamic Centre in Shelton collected over £120 for the local Douglas Macmillan Hospice. They recently had a small ceremony to hand the money over to the matron of the hospice, Norma O’Neill. The spokesperson for the centre, Rana Tufail explained that the day was chosen for the collection as, being a bank holiday, more of their members could attend the centre for prayers than on other Fridays. Mr Tufail said: "We decided two years ago to have an annual collection for Douglas Macmillan because of the work they do. We are part of the community and we felt we must contribute to these charitable organisations"(Stoke on Trent Sentinel, 30.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Faith in prison

Awaaz (01.05.98) has a feature article on Muslims in prison, discussing questions such as the provision of halal food, facilities for daily and congregational prayers, Ramadan, chaplaincy services, and prison conversions to Islam. Those interviewed include two prisoners, one at Wakefield Prison and one at Peterhead; Ali Asghar, who along with Khali Kazi is an imam serving the Muslims in Armley Prison, Leeds; and David Knott, Governor at Armley Prison. On the subject of prison conversions, Ali Asghar said: "There have been converts to Islam in my time here. One particular Friday we had three converts. Islam is the true way of life and this is clear when you study the holy book. On the outside, people are too busy to think about these things but inside there is time to study and to think and then they realise the truth about Islam. In my experience, those who convert to Islam are accepted by other Muslims. I don’t know of anyone who has had problems with other white inmates but I know of some who have had problems with their families. Still they have said to me that they have found peace and harmony through Islam". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Kirklees social services plans

The Pakistan Kashmir Welfare Society (PKWA) in Batley has set up a phone line on which callers can give their opinions and suggestions about social services provision in North Kirklees. Views from the community will then be presented to Kirklees Social Services managers at a seminar to be held later in the year by the PKWA, Heckmondwicke’s Pakistan Muslim Welfare Society and the Salfia Association of Ravensthorpe. Tahir Hussain, chair of the PKWA said: "This innovative initiative serves to express our commitment to the ethnic minority community to seek improvements in the planning and delivery of service provision. It is a step towards greater user involvement in how services are delivered in North Kirklees". English, Punjabi and Urdu speaking operators will be available on the phone line, whose number is 0800 052 0243 (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7]

 

 

Qur’an event planned

The Mount Pleasant Islamic Daw’ah Centre Batley has been chosen as the venue for the Al-Birr Foundation Annual Qur’anic Competition. There are there classes in the competition, ranging from under 14’s to under 22’s. The total prize money is over £4,000 this year. The closing date for entering the competition is 30 May. Further details and application forms may be obtained from: Al-Birr Foundation UK., PO Box 12859, London E10 6Un, phone 0181 558 7109 (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 7/8]

 

 

Art auctions

The magazine The Middle East (01.05.98) has an article on the annual specialist auctions of Islamic art held in London by famous auction houses such as Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Spink’s. The article includes colour photographs of some outstanding pieces which will be offered for sale this year. There is also some history of the event: "In 1975 the World of Islam Festival was held at various venues all over London, which was to have far-reaching consequences in raising public awareness of Arab-Muslim culture, not least initiating twice-yearly exhibitions and sales in London which have become known as Islamic Week. They now represent such a significant date in the global arts calendar that no dealer, collector, academic nor museum curator dare miss one. As a result of that seminal festival, London has become the centre for Islamic art, rather appropriately, being neatly half-way between the Eastern and Western worlds". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Education

Muslim school funding

On 21 April the Islamia School (see BMMS for December 1997; January and February 1998) in Brent, north London, began the first day of the summer term as the first state-funded school in Britain. The School Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, was present at this historic occasion. He said: "Today is an historic occasion, making a broadening of the faiths represented in state sector education. It is important that our multi-cultural society should be reflected in the variety of educational experience available to our children - underpinned by high quality and high standards" (Daily Jang, The Times, Oxford Mail, Nuneaton Evening Telegraph, Liverpool Daily Post, Barnsley Star, Lancaster Star, Birmingham Evening Mail, Birmingham Express & Star, Walsall Express & Star, Shropshire Star, Eastern Daily Press, 21.04.98). He also wrote an article in Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) on the Islamia school, Al Furqan School in Birmingham, which has also got state funding, and more generally about the current government’s aims and achievements in education. He said of Al Furqan and Islamia: "I have been impressed with the dedication of the staff and trustees at both schools who have fought for the recognition they have now achieved. They have created popular, well-managed schools that are keen to build on their success. The two schools are also a tribute to the Muslim community as a whole and to the community’s belief in education. British Muslims have a great deal to offer the rest of our society" (Eastern Eye, 24.04.98, Asian Times, 28.04.98). The Morning Star (21.04.98) and Daily Mail (21.04.98) stressed that the school has a commitment to equal opportunities for girls and boys and believes in encouraging citizenship.

The chair of Jcore, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, Dr Richard Stone, has welcomed the government’s decision to give state funding to the two schools, as being a move towards improved community relations. Writing in Connections, the quarterly magazine of the Commission for Racial Equality, Dr Stone confessed to embarrassment at a situation where "we had 23 Jewish schools for 300,000 people while there were no state-funded schools for 1.5 Muslims" (Jewish Chronicle, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Luton house plans

It seems unlikely that planning permission will be granted to use a house in Runley Road, Dallow, as a centre "to provide cultural, moral and supplementary education for Muslim children and mothers". Planning officers are opposed to the application, from Ahmed Saleh of 1 Runley Road, on the grounds of likely parking problems and traffic congestion. They said: "The proposed development would injuriously affect the amenities of the adjoining properties by reason of noise and general disturbance, and disturbance from traffic calling at the premises" (Luton News, 01.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Coventry schools

The chair of Coventry’s planning committee, Councillor Sheila Collins (Labour, Longford) has defended the council’s decision to force Paradise Muslim School in Cromwell Street to close (see BMMS for March 1998). She said: "The applicants themselves acknowledged the premises weren’t suitable, and were seeking temporary planning permission only. The council’s own development plan states that new schools will be located and designed for the maximum convenience of the children and the local community they are intended to serve" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, Rugby Evening Telegraph, 23.04.98). Muslim councillor Shabbir Ahmed accused Labour councillors of going beyond their remit in closing the school, when planning officers had recommended it remained open, there were no complaints from local residents, and the school had temporary registration from the Department of Education. He claimed that this decision by the Labour-led council had influenced his decision to defect to the Conservatives (see Report in the Politics section of this issue of BMMS). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Arabic lessons

The College of Continuing Education is holding classes in Arabic at the Rutter Street mosque for people planning to visit Saudi Arabia (Lichfield & Burntwood Express & Star, 09.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

College planning application

The Darul Uloom Islamic College in Holcombe Old Road, Holcombe has submitted a planning application to Ramsbottom council for extension work including a communal lounge, conservatory and enlargement of the reception and waiting room area (Rossendale Free Press, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8]

 

 

Mixed swimming protest

Nasira Younas, the mother of 13-year-old Nosheen, has withdrawn her daughter from swimming lessons at Lister Community School in Newham, east London, on discovering that these sessions are mixed (Q-News, 01.05.98, Muslim News, 24.04.98). She said: "I think many parents would be concerned that girls at a vulnerable age who are very conscious of their bodies are being made to swim in mixed sessions. My daughter does not wear hijab to school, but many other girls do. How must they feel when they have to take part in mixed swimming lessons? I am sure many of these girls’ parents are unaware that this is happening and the girls feel they have no choice in the matter are helpless and perhaps even lying to them" (Muslim News, 24.04.98). The school has a high proportion of Muslim students and Ms Younas has organised a petition, signed by over 150 parents of various faith communities. Anthony McRoy, of London Bible College, who is a parent governor from one of the feeder primary schools, accompanied Ms Younas at a recent meeting with the deputy head and the head of PE. Mr McRoy said: "My wife said she wouldn’t like our daughter to participate in mixed swimming at that age". The meeting did not result in any change in the school’s policy, but a further meeting was called for 22 April between Ms Younas, the headteacher, Linda McGowan, and the school governors (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 8/9]

 

 

Glasgow Muslim school

Muslim entrepreneurs and educationalists who were looking for a building in Glasgow to convert into a Muslim girls school (see BMMS for February and March 1998) have now found premises they consider suitable (Glasgow Evening Times, Sun, 23.04.98, Scotsman, Scottish Daily Mail, Glasgow Herald, Sun, 24.04.98, Edinburgh Evening News, Glasgow Evening Times, 27.04.98, Scotsman, 28.04.98). A former annexe of the Bellahouston Academy in Govan has been purchased for around £300,000. Glasgow councillor Hanzala Malik said: "I wish the trustees good luck with their plans. This has arisen because of the council’s policy of ending all-girl schools in Glasgow. I am not on the steering group, but I was consulted and indeed went to England to look at the Muslim schools there. The standard of education is very high because class sizes are quite small" (Glasgow Evening Times, 23.04.98). The search for a building became more urgent when Muslims learned that Glasgow city council plans to make the last girls only school, the Catholic Notre Dame School, co-educational. Muzaffar Yousaf, one of the businesspeople on the steering group said: "This is not about keeping Asian and white children apart. Non-Muslim children will be welcome but we will emphasise a strong moral stand. Non-denominational Glasgow schools are not putting enough emphasis on the moral standards of children. That is why the majority of Asians send their children to Catholic schools, where there is a greater moral stand" (Scotsman, 24.04.98).[BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

College prayer room fight

The fight for a prayer room at Hendon College in north west London continues. Over the past fifteen months, two student spokespersons, Adel Al-Daheri and Masood Mahmoud, have been campaigning for the restoration of a permanent room for Muslim prayers. In November, the college granted the use of a room for half hour and one full hour slots each day, but the students argue that this is inadequate, since the slots will inevitably clash with some students’ classes and that they need a place which is permanent and open throughout the college day for prayer and reflection (Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Oxford day school

A day school whose aim was to explore ways of increasing the understanding of Islam was planned by Oxford University’s Continuing Education Department for 9 May. Invited speakers included the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries and Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in London (Oxford Times, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Oadby school anniversary

The Muslim School of Oadby, which teaches after-school classes in Qur’anic studies, Islamic history and Urdu, recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at St Paul’s Church in Hamble Road. Children who had done well in their exams were presented with prizes. The school’s chairperson, Mr Mehr, said that the school started with just 12 children and now had 40, with many more on the waiting list (Leicester Mercury, 29.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Fight to save madrasa

Following the council’s refusal to extend the Thornhill Lees Muslim Welfare Trust’s temporary planning permission for the madrasa it has been running for the past two years, the council, who are the owners of the land upon which the madrasa was built, are threatening to sue for trespass. A hearing on 18 April was adjourned for two months, to allow the trust and Kirklees council to reach a settlement. A spokesperson for the trust said: "If an agreement cannot be found then the education of local children will undoubtedly suffer. The nearest madrasa is over a mile away in Savile Town, it is already barely adequate to cope with the demand from its immediate community and unlikely to accept children from Thornhill Lees". Another member of the trust’s committee refuted specific allegations made by the council which have been given for terminating the lease and the temporary permission: "The issue around car parking and access facilities has been overblown with most of the children travelling to the madrasa by foot. And whilst I accept that members of the local community have been using the madrasa as a place of worship there is a world of difference between a mosque and a prayer room" (Awaaz, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Muslim children in Cornwall

A correspondent to the Western Morning News (22.04.98) writes that: "We were recently informed that there are 250 Muslims living in Cornwall, and that the authorities there have asked the Muslim community to take part in child education". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9]

 

 

Politics

Dissidents in UK

Yasir Sirri, an Islamist militant sentenced to death in Egypt and currently seeking asylum in Britain, has written to Tony Blair demanding that the prime minister raise the issue of human rights in Egypt when he visited President Mubarak during his Middle East tour. Mr Sirri said that the prime minister should advise the Egyptian leader to have a dialogue with his opponents, as Britain is now doing with Northern Ireland. He said: "Let Mubarak learn the lessons. He has been 17 years in power. It is a very bad time for Egypt". Although several times in recent years the Egyptian government has accused Britain of sheltering so-called terrorists and demanded their extradition (see BMMS for November 1997 and March 1998), Mr Sirri is not afraid. He said: "This is a country where the rule of law prevails. Every day the Egyptian papers are calling for me to be sent back. Britain will not respond favourably because nothing tangible about my case has been presented to the British courts" (The Times, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 9/10]

 

 

Iraq sanctions

Two newspapers, the Scotsman (03.04.98) and Q-News (01.05.98) have full-page articles about how the policies of the British government towards Iraq is causing suffering to the Iraqi people, and about the opposition towards these policies from Britons, both Muslims and non-Muslims (see BMMS for February and March 1998). Cardinal Winning, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, was reported in the Scotsman (03.04.98) as having written in the Scottish Catholic Monthly Flourish, concerning MP George Galloway’s recent efforts to highlight the inhumane effects of sanctions imposed on Iraq: "What is being brought before us is a real suffering of the innocent. Caught between a repressive evil dictatorship at home and understandable international determination to control a dangerous despot, we don’t often see with clarity what life is like for people in such a situation. The more you examine what is happening to the ordinary Iraqi population who have had no say in determining how they are governed, the more convinced you become that hitting them hard cannot be justified". Scottish Muslim leaders welcomed the cardinal’s statement. Haq Ghani, spokesperson for the Islamic Society of Britain in Glasgow, commented: "The whole Muslim community here is really shocked and distressed at the lack of care which the British government has shown about the plight of a people who have no control over a dictatorial government. The British government has to accept responsibility for the lives of thousands of men, women and children who are denied medicine and food and have been dying in really desperate conditions. These sanctions are not hurting Saddam, only ordinary people, and they must be lifted immediately". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

G8 Summit contribution

The Methodist Recorder (09.04.98) has an article on events protesting about debt, particularly Third World Debt, when the leaders of the world’s richest and most powerful nations come to Birmingham on 16 May for the G8 Summit. The author explains that one of the bodies co-ordinating the protests is the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, which is mainly Christian, but other faith communities are also taking part. He continues: "Muslims are not supposed to lend money under usury terms... a group in Balsall Heath is organising a series of lectures on the issue of debt in the week leading up to the summit. One of the titles will be ‘World debt and the End of Interest’. A Pakistani professor will be speaking on the Muslim position and the intention is to persuade a World Bank representative to speak in favour of lending money at interest." [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Stickers investigation

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has contacted the Home Office with its concern about stickers appearing in the Redbridge and Walthamstow areas which claim that the Holocaust did not happen. The stickers claim to be produced by a Muslim group. The Board of Deputies, via its Community Security Trust, has also contacted local councils, the police and local papers about this problem (London Jewish News, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Passover gift

Hackney’s mayor, Councillor Joe Lobenstein, who is also the vice-president of the Union of Hebrew Congregations, was presented with a matzah tray at a ceremony at the North London Muslim Centre. In his thank you speech, Councillor Lobenstein praised the good relations between the different religious and ethnic communities in Hackney, adding: "The world would be a better place if this kind of relationship were followed" (Jewish Chronicle, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Councillors defect

Two Labour Coventry city councillors have defected to the Conservatives. Jaswant Singh and Shabbir Ahmed, both representing St Michael’s ward, resigned from Labour on 25 March. Councillor Ahmed has been a Labour Party member for 20 years and a councillor for seven. He has objected to the closure of the Paradise Muslim School by the council (see Report in the Education section of this BMMS), saying: "They use us as a tool every time they want to win an election. We have to send a strong message to Labour that they can’t take us for granted. Recently the Council decided to close down a Muslim school and this year they put me down for committee meetings on Fridays even though it is a day for prayers for Muslims". Councillor Mohammed Asif (Labour, Upper Stoke) rejected Councillor Ahmed’s allegations: "He has got it completely wrong. The Labour Party believes in equality more than the Conservatives and has more racial harmony". He denied that Coventry’s Labour Party was unsympathetic to Muslim issues (Muslim News, 24.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Leicester mayor gift

The lord mayor of Leicester, Councillor Ray Flint, was presented with a cheque for £110 for the Lord Mayor’s Appeal and a Muslim prayer shawl for himself by the Dawoodi Bohra Muslims at a civic reception held at their centre in Wellington Street, Leicester. A spiritual leader of the group, Shaykh Nooruddin Yamani, was visiting Britain from America and he presented the cheque and shawl to the mayor, who welcomed him to the civic reception and to the city (Leicester Mercury, 25.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10]

 

 

Prime minister comment

The Guardian (30.04.98) has an article reviewing the first year of Tony Blair’s premiership. Six prominent people from diverse walks of life were interviewed and asked about their opinions of Tony Blair’s first year of office. Dr Hamed Almaajed, director general of the London Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Society, said: "I am quite pleased with their job. We met the Prime Minister and Jack Straw just one month before the election. They both came and visited the Islamic centre - the first major politicians to do so. They made promises that made us hopeful that things would change for the better for the Muslim community if they got elected and this is exactly what happened". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 10/11]

 

 

Racism

Crime and Disorder Bill

Discussion continues in the Muslim press, with four articles in Q-News (01.05.98) and in the New Statesman (03.04.98) as to whether the proposed Crime and Disorder Bill will protect Muslims from attack, harassment and discrimination. Writing in the New Statesman, Fuad Nahdi, who is the editor of Q-News, and Robin Richardson, co-director of the Instead consultancy, which specialises in equality issues, argue that, unless certain anomalies in British law are rectified, Muslims could be worse off under the new legislation. This is because, whereas Sikhs and Jews are considered "ethnic groups" under the law, Muslims are not. So, Nahdi and Richardson point out some potential ironies: "Advice to racists: when you’re in the mood for a bit of desecrating, you’ll be better off doing a mosque than a synagogue or a Sikh temple. Further helpful advice to racists: if you feel like beating someone up, you’ll be pleased to know that the Crime and Disorder Bill says it’s less serious to injure a Muslim woman wearing hijab than a Jewish man wearing a kippa or a Sikh wearing a turban. Now imagine some Sikh youths in Southall who drive along the M4 to Slough and beat up a Muslim. Under the Crime and Disorder Bill the courts will treat this less severely than if Muslim youths in Slough drive along the M4 to Southall and beat up a Sikh". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Race relations appointments

The Daily Jang (01.05.98) has a report on the new Commissioners for Racial Equality, of whom the youngest is Mohammed Amran, a 22-year-old youth and community worker from Bradford (see the ‘Nike shoes controversy’ feature in this issue of BMMS). Mr Amran was chair for three years of Bradford’s Youth and Community Forum, which was set up in 1995 following the Bradford riots (see BMMS for February, April, May, November and December 1996; May 1997). He said: "My aim is to tackle all sorts of discrimination and to talk to big firms and to get them to adopt policies on race relations. People are not delivering what they say they are delivering on this - there’s a lot of lip-service". The other new members of the commission are Claude Moraes, director of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; Shahid Malik, head of policy and development at Greater Nottingham Training and Enterprise Council; and Cherry-Rose Short, probation officer and consultant on race at South Glamorgan Probation Service. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Councillor denounces racism

Councillor Paul Nesbitt told the Manchester edition of the Jewish Telegraph (24.04.98) that he felt ashamed of the racism exhibited by some Jews concerning the proposed sale of the former Prestwich Brooklands Library to a Muslim organisation for a mosque and community centre. He said: "I have had eight phone calls from Jews making racist remarks against Asians and Muslims. It is absolutely appalling. I was ashamed that such remarks were coming from Jews. They had no shame. They told me that if I was a good Jew, I would do everything in my power to stop these people coming. We should be the last people on earth to be narrow-minded and racist. Some of those who complained were pensioners who were older enough to have experienced what happened under Hitler and Mosley. Now they are doing exactly the same to another race. They should put their brain into gear before they put their mouth into operation". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Women

Muslim women study

Preliminary findings published by Professor Marie Parker-Jenkins from her research on the careers and aspirations of young Muslim women aged 16 to 25 have led the Department for Education and employment to offer to sponsor a conference to discuss her full findings (see BMMS for October 1997). Professor Parker-Jenkins of the University of Derby, said: "We have had a tremendous response from different agencies wanting to know more about the initial findings. We are looking to publish the full findings later in the year and the conference will follow" (Derby Evening Telegraph, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Nuneaton fund raising

The Nuneaton Muslim Women’s Group has raised £1,635 for Islamic Relief for its work with orphans. Parveen Deen, secretary of the group, said when presenting the cheque to the charity: "We would like to thank everyone involved in making this event very successful. We received much kind support from local businesses, traders, shop keepers, restaurant owners and local people" (Nuneaton Weekly Tribune, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11]

 

 

Married bliss?

Muslim News (24.04.98) has printed considerable correspondence on the theme of Muslim women’s expectation of humane, equal treatment in marriage and how that expectation is often not fulfilled. This correspondence was catalysed by an article by Soraya Ahmed in a previous edition of Muslim News, where she detailed the physical and emotional abuse she had suffered in her marriage. The editorial in Muslim News (24.04.98) comments: "Evidence from our letter writers, the Muslim Women’s Helpline and other organisations which deal with and help women suggests that Soraya’s is not an isolated case. There are hundreds of Muslim women in marriages which are the cause of distress and not happiness and contentment. Without careful consideration of why these problems have arisen and appropriate action, we can only see a growing trend of marriage breakdowns in the Muslim community with the consequent impact on the development and socialisation of Muslim children who will be left without the full-time love and attention of one or other of their parents. This in turn will have an impact on the future strength and well-being of the Muslim community...". The editorial calls for more Muslim marriage counselling. Amongst the letters, one from the Muslim Women’s Helpline says that their annual report for 1997 is now available, price £2.50 plus postage and packing. Copies can be ordered by phoning 0181 908 3205. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 11/12]

 

 

Youth

Young women’s view of racism

Shout (10.04.98), a magazine aimed at girls and young women, has an article about the impact of racism on girls, entitled Rule Out Racism. One of those interviewed is Neelam, who is 13 and of Bangladeshi origin. Her family live in Scotland and run a shop. In her interview she says: "Sometimes I think people are funny towards Asians because they don’t understand them. My family is Muslim. We don’t make fun of Christian people or think they’re weird for going to church, yet we get stared at sometimes on our way to the mosque. A few months back, the outside wall was vandalised with racist graffiti. There’s no need for that. The country is big enough for everyone -why can’t we all just get along?" [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Ahmadiyya charity fundraising

West Yorkshire members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, including about 50 from the Huddersfield branch based in Lower Fitzwilliam Street, helped to raise £5,000 for the Save the Children Fund. The youngsters had participated in a 26-mile marathon in the Yorkshire Dales. In total, members of the UK Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association raised £20,000 for various charities (Huddersfield Daily Examiner, 08.04.98).

Members of the Slough Ahmadiyya Association’s youth group planned to participate in the association’s national sponsored walk, which goes from Oxford to Slough. The association aimed to raise at least £20,000 for charity. The charities to benefit include the save the Children Fund and the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children (Midweek Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Muslim Youth League office

Eastern Eye (24.04.98) and the Asian Times (28.04.98) carry news of the opening of the offices of the Muslim Youth League UK recently in east London. The offices were opened by the leader of the Minhaj-ul-Quran movement, of which the Muslim Youth League is a part, Professor Shaykh Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri. The professor had come to London from Pakistan especially for the opening. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Interfaith

Grimsby Eid celebrations

At the Eid celebrations in Grimsby, to which the mayor and mayoress, councillors and local journalists were invited, Ruqaiyah Waris Maqsood, author and lecturer in religious education, spoke about the similarities between Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings. The writer in the Grimsby Evening Telegraph (23.04.98) concluded her piece: "One joy of the afternoon was to meet families - mum, dad and children - all celebrating together. Another personal one was the promise of a root of Moroccan mint, so that we can enjoy our own mint tea ceremony - one of the best remedies I know for indigestion after a spicy meal". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Halal

Abattoir planning application

A halal chicken slaughtering firm looks certain to gain permanent planning permission. Planning officers have recommended the site at Bell’s Farm, Shantock Hall Lane, Bovingdon be made permanent because of its role in the local economy. Formerly a poultry farm, the abattoir now kills 75,000 chickens a week for the halal meat trade. The managing director Chris Atkinson said: "This is an ideal site and there aren’t any suitable places for us to relocate to in the area as people don’t want a chicken abattoir alongside their offices on an industrial estate" (Bucks Examiner, 10.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12]

 

 

Jail provision controversy

Controversy has arisen over prisons giving all of their prisoners, non-Muslims included, halal meat. Moorland Prison near Doncaster, and Ranby Prison near Retford, admitted that all of their meat was halal. Lindholme Prison near Doncaster, said most of its meat was halal, and Hatfield Young Offenders’ Institute also near Doncaster, said some of its supply to all prisoners was also halal. Compassion in World Farming maintains that the practice of serving non-Muslim prisoners with halal meat is against the law and that they are prepared to launch a legal challenge against the Prison Service on the question (Yorkshire Post, 16.04.98). An editorial in the Yorkshire Post (16.04.98) points out that there are anomalies in the law and that the main motive of the prisons where halal meat is served to all prisoners is economy. The Prison Service has launched an investigation into the matter and will issue detailed instructions to prisons as a result. Armley Prison in Leeds confirmed that all poultry served to prisoners was halal, on the grounds of cost, as they have to feed each prisoner on just £1.37 a day (Yorkshire Post, 17.04.98).

Councillor David Otter of Bassetlaw, who has been a member of the prison visitors board at Ranby Prison for the past six years, has resigned over the practice. He said: "The practice has been going on for quite a while and despite attempts by myself to put a stop to it, it is still going on. The actions at the prison upset me in two ways. Firstly, it means that those prisoners of Christian and other faiths are not getting a choice. And there are thousands of animals being killed cruelly and unnecessarily just so that prisons can save money. It is an absolute scandal that in an effort to cut costs, the prison service has broken the law". Martin Pratt, the deputy governor at Ranby, said that none of the prisoners had made any complaints and explained the practical reasons for serving halal meat to all. He said: "If we kept small amounts of halal meat purely for our Muslim customers we would be presented with the problems of storing and cooking it separately. Halal meat becomes expensive if it is bought in small amounts. The greater quantity you buy the more comparable the price is to that of ordinary meat and so economically it is more favourable to use it for all prisoners". The Prison Service is currently producing new guidelines to clarify the issue (Retford Times, 23.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 12/13]

 

 

Muslims and organic food

Q-News (01.05.98) has an article by Rabia Spiker about organic food production, in which she argues that Muslims are insufficiently aware of what they eat and how it has been produced. She explains how intensive farming methods are bad for the health of human beings and destructive to the natural environment. She calls for Muslims to broaden their concept of ‘halal’: "Why is it so hard to find organic halal meat when in the Qur’an it is expressly specified that food must not just be ‘halal’ but also ‘tayyab’ (good, pure). In a time just post the mad cow disease scare, I don’t think it is difficult to understand why. It is true that organic produce is a little more expensive than ‘normal’ stuff, mainly because organic farms have so little government support compared with conventional farms, but in a society where we all eat too much anyway I don’t think it would be too hard to substitute too much ‘junk’ food for the right amount of ‘good’ food. Let’s substitute quality for quantity again". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Health

Free circumcision call

Muslims in Waltham Forest are asking their local health authority to provide a free circumcision service. Anwar Chaudhury, co-ordinator of the Waltham Forest Islamic Association, said: "This service used to be available to children but it was withdrawn about eight years ago. They said it had to be done privately. The problem is that there are a lot of people who are poor and on income support and they cannot observe this religious commitment. It’s quite a bit of money to do it privately. I think circumcisions should be free on religious grounds. It’s a requirement of our faith. When you leave it to the private sector they will try and minimise costs. The operations are not as satisfactory as those in hospitals. They do it quickly and there’s no examination afterwards". Redbridge and Waltham Forest Health Authority commented that circumcision for non-medical reasons was not a priority and there has been little local demand for such a service in local hospitals (Chingford Guardian, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Prayer room created

A multifaith prayer room with facilities for Muslims has been created for mentally ill patients at New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton. Raj Ramkorun, the health trust’s mental health co-ordinator, said: "The aim is to cater for the spiritual needs of all patients as well as their relatives and friends and the staff. It is hoped that by providing this facility spiritual leaders in the community will be encouraged to stay in touch with members during a stay in hospital" (Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Shiatsu and Islam

Q-News (01.05.98) has an article by Michael Rose, a practitioner and teacher of shiatsu. He is a member of the Naqshabandi Sufi order under Shaykh Nazim al-Haqqani and can be contacted through Q-News. He stresses the spiritual aspect of this form of healing massage, which originated in Japan. He writes: "Compassion is a key to the heart’s opening. When someone is sincerely trying to help another, through their heart, and without wish for personal gain, a special channel of healing opens. The intention has to be for pure love - original love. Perhaps this quality is most easily felt by women, who as mothers, were the first healers. Another key is to ask for help. There is a special mercy for those who ask for help from the Divine. The more one can recognise one’s need of support, the more the heart can open and receive energy. This, of course, can be a problem for the ego, which likes to be in charge, and independent. If the mind is under the control of the ego, it will block this but if it is under the control of the heart, it will support it. So in order for this channel to open fully, it is important to believe in the existence of heavenly powers and compassion". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Employment

Prayer at Fox’s?

Allegations that Muslim workers at Fox’s biscuit factory have to pray in secret or risk being disciplined and sacked continue (see BMMS for March 1998). Awaaz (01.05.98) comments on information received from anonymous informants that: "Well intentioned initiatives like those developed by Northern Foods [owners of Fox’s Biscuits in Batley] are not much use if there is a climate of fear amongst workers. Who would dare complain if they thought it would mean the loss of their livelihood? And it would seem that there are Muslim workers who genuinely believe this to be the case. Where does this belief come from? Could it be that employees at Fox’s Biscuits have no faith in management to deal with their complaints fairly?" [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bishop Stortford, Hockerill St

The Herts and Essex Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre has been successful in its bid for the lease of Bishop Stortford’s former public library in Hockerill Street (Saffron Walden Observer, 26.03.98, Herts & Essex Observer, Bishop’s Stortford Herald, 02.04.98, Bishop’s Stortford Citizen, 08.04.98, Herts & Essex Observer, 09.04.98). It had taken the council 18 months to decide on a tenant for the old library building (see BMMS for January, February, September and October 1997), but the president of the Islamic association which was granted the lease, Dilwar Ahmed, was happy that a decision had finally been made in favour of the mosque. He said: "They have finally agreed to give it to us and we hope to move in as soon as we sign the lease. We are very pleased" (Saffron Walden Observer, 26.03.98). The town’s mayor, Councillor Tim Page, welcomed the decision. He said: "I say good luck to them. I believe the people who live in this country have the right of association and I can see no objections to them meeting in Bishop’s Stortford" (Herts & Essex Observer, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 13]

 

 

Blackburn, Willow St

Members of the Plane Tree Road Mosque have applied for planning permission to turn disused offices in Willow Street into a mosque and community centre. There have been some objections on the grounds of traffic congestion and parking difficulties, but members of Blackburn with Darwen Council’s planning committee have been recommended by planning officers to give approval at their next meeting (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph & Argus, 20.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Blackpool, Central Drive

An application for planning permission by the Islamic Mosque Committee to use the former Cartmell Signs factory site on which to build a mosque has been rejected by Blackpool Council’s planning committee (see BMMS for February and March 1998). Councillors decided that there would be problems of car parking and road safety, and there had been objections from some residents concerning possible noise nuisance. Dr Abdul Ghafoor Baloch, chair of the Islamic Mosque Committee said: "We are saddened by the refusal. This decision means the pressing needs for an adequate facility in which to pray have not yet been met. We hope that in the not too distant future, Blackpool Council will reconsider". Deputy council leader George Bankroft said: "The Muslim community made a valuable contribution to Blackpool and we hope to work constructively with them to try to find a suitable site" (Blackpool Evening Gazette, 29.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Bradford, Darfield St

The contractor employed to build the dome of Bradford’s new mosque in Darfield Street has been taken off the job because his firm were too far behind schedule (see BMMS for February 1998). Khadim Hussain, speaking on behalf of the Jamiat Tabligh-ul-Islam, which is having the mosque built, said: "I am bitterly disappointed that the dome was not completed in Ramadan. It would have helped boost our confidence and fundraising". An alternative contractor is now being sought. Neil Waghorne, designer of the mosque, said: "The work has been slow because the steel people constructing the dome have been very slow" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 25.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Bury, Parker St and Walmersley Road

The dispute over the management of the new mosque in Parker Street (see BMMS for November 1997 and March 1998), built largely because the Khizra Mosque in Walmersley Road was inadequate in size for local needs, continues (Bury Times, 27.03.98, 03.04.98, Q-News, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Coventry burials

Muslims in Coventry want the council to provide burial facilities seven days a week, in order to comply with the traditional Islamic practice of burying the deceased within 24 hours of death. The council claim that this extension of the service would cost an extra £15,000 per year, which they cannot afford. Councillor Shabbir Ahmed said: "This is another example of the way the council is treating the Muslim community" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 03.04.98). However, a compromise was suggested by the environment committee chair, Councillor Margaret Rosher (Labour, Cheylesmore). She said: "We could dedicate part of Lentons Lane cemetery to the Muslim community and they could run it themselves. They do a similar thing in Bradford". Councillor Harry Richards (Labour, St Michael’s) pointed out that for burials to take place at weekends and Bank holidays, the co-operation of the registrar of deaths was necessary. He urged the council to campaign at national level for the seven-day opening of registrar’s offices. Councillor Caron Matchet (Conservative, Wainbody) pointed out that cemeteries in Birmingham, Leicester and Nuneaton open at weekends and Coventry could do more in this respect. She said: "We must do something about this if we are serious about equal opportunities" (Rugby Evening Telegraph, 04.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Crawley, Broadfield

The mayor of Crawley, councillor Mary Mayne, recently paid an official visit to the newly-completed Quawat-Ul-Islam Mosque in Broadwood Rise. Work began on the mosque, which will serve about 500 Muslims from Crawley and Horsham, two years ago. Councillor Mayne was presented with a copy of the Holy Qur’an. The welfare secretary, Javed Quasi, said: "We wanted her to see the mosque once it was all completed. It’s very well used and we have a strong community in Broadfield and Langley Green. The Mayor was really impressed and wanted to know a lot about Islam" (Crawley & Horsham Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Halifax, Hopwood Lane

A revised plan for the expansion of the Jamiat Ahl-E-Hadith mosque into the former Century Works site in Hopwood Lane is to be submitted to the planners (see BMMS for February 1998). In February Calderdale Council’s Development Sub-Committee turned down the application following objections from residents. The new plan includes more parking spaces on site (Halifax Evening Courier, 07.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Kettering, Grasmere Rd

Muslims in Kettering are hoping to turn a former grocery shop into a mosque and madrasah. There is no mosque in the town at present. The secretary of the Kettering Muslim Association, Bisharet Ali, said: "This will be a huge breakthrough for the Kettering Muslim population. But the mosque will not be used exclusively by Muslims. We want to explain our culture to children from schools so we will open the centre up for visits and explain what it’s all about. There is an expanding population of Muslims across Kettering. We are greatly looking forward to the move" (Kettering Evening Telegraph, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Luton burials

Gulam Kadir, the 21 year-old owner director of Ruhani Muslim Funeral Service in Waldeck Road, Luton is now through to the final of the Top Young Shell Livewire entrepreneur of the Year Award scheme (see BMMS for March 1998). The final for the whole of the UK will be held in London on 16 June (Luton News, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 14]

 

 

Luton, Bury Park Rd

Muslims in Luton have put in an offer for the orthodox synagogue in Bury Park Road (see BMMS for August and October 1997). It is presently used by the town’s 250 orthodox Jews for worship and youth activities. Cyril Davis, president of the Luton Hebrew Congregation, said: "It’s been on the market for years but this is the first definite offer we’ve had. There is no problem about dealing with the Muslims. Unlike the rest of the world, we are on good terms with them". The negotiating price is between £150,000 to £200,000. Built in 1911 as a cinema, the building became a synagogue shortly after the second world war, at which time the Jewish community numbered 1,200 people (Luton on Sunday, 12.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Lye

The president of the mosque in Lye, in the West Midlands, Mohammed Akram, was recently attacked with a shoe during prayers by a worshipper (see BMMS for November 1997). At the time of the attack, the mosque was full, with over 100 worshippers present. Mr Akram suffered a cut to the head and an ambulance was called but he declined to go to hospital. The police were called to break up a fight after other worshippers joined in the scuffle. A man was arrested at the scene and is due to appear in court soon (Eastern Eye, 01.05.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Northgate

The Millat-e-Jaffarya mosque, which was a bungalow used without planning permission as a place of worship in Cloverlands, Northgate, has now been closed by the council (see BMMS for February 1998). Councillor Linda Seekings told a development control meeting: "We have got it absolutely right - it’s an area where there’s no room for this sort of thing. It’s a very small road with enormous parking problems and with the amount of people going down there it would have been horrendous. I’m sure what they are doing down there is for the best - but not in Cloverlands". Complaints had been received from neighbours about noise, disturbance and parking problems, and when the Millat-e-Jaffarya applied for retrospective planning permission to use the premises as an official place of worship, it was refused (Crawley Observer, 22.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Palmers Green, Oakthorpe Rd

Designs for the mosque on the former playing fields at Oakthorpe Road have now been submitted to Enfield Council (see BMMS for April and December 1997; January 1998). Anyone interested in seeing them should contact Enfield’s planning department, giving the reference TP/98/0359 (Enfield Advertiser, 08.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Portsmouth, Victoria Rd North

Muslims in Portsmouth are drawing up plans to convert a former bingo hall in Victoria Road North into a mosque (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 15.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust

Q-News (01.05.98) reports that the proposal to build a mosque on The Broadway in Southall (see BMMS for March, May, September and October 1997; January and March 1998), quite close to the Ramgarhia Sikh Centre, has received the approval of the World Sikh Federation. They wrote to Ealing borough’s planning department: "The federation strongly supports this application as dedicated to serve the needs of both Sikh and Muslim communities. This development is long needed". However, Ealing Council has again delayed making a decision on the mosque. The Southall Gazette (17.04.98) reports that: "Muslim anger at the delay has led to worshippers apparently using the building for prayers in breach of planning regulations". [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

South Shields, Baring St

A power struggle over the control of the mosque run by the South Tyneside Bangladesh Muslim Cultural Association resulted in fighting, with one man needing hospital treatment (South Shields Gazette, 07.04.98, 08.04.98). Police were called to the incident, which is believed to be linked to forthcoming elections for the mosque’s management committee. There have been similar violent confrontations at this mosque before. [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Trafford, St Bride St

Planning permission has been granted for a new purpose-built mosque to be constructed in St Bride Street, Old Trafford. There will be no externally broadcast call to prayer. Michael Crowley, Trafford’s senior assistant director of planning said: "It was felt in this locality it would not really be appropriate to have amplified calls to prayer, or calls to prayer at all for that matter. Old Trafford Muslim Society were happy with that planning condition. We hope the mosque will meet the needs of Muslims in the area". The new St Bride Street complex will replace the existing mosque in Stamford Street, which will close as an independent place of worship (Manchester Metro News, 17.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Walthamstow burials

A mourning Muslim couple were attacked with stones and sworn at when they visited the grave of their deceased relative in the Muslim Burial Ground in Folly Lane, Walthamstow (see BMMS for March 1998). Alan Smith and his wife, Resham Mirza-Smith were tending the grave of her father when the incident happened. She explained: "We saw some youths poking sticks into freshly dug graves and shouting obscenities. When my husband challenged them they started throwing stones at him before running away. It is disgusting that you cannot go and pay respects to your loved ones in peace. I am now too scared to go there on my own in case I am attacked". The council admits that there have been many complaints about vandalism and the desecration of graves in the cemetery in Folly Lane and is hoping to install CCTV in the area (Chingford Guardian, 02.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

 

Wood Green burials

The Muslim burial ground in Wood Green has won Haringey Council a commendation in the Commission for Racial Equality’s awards for local authorities. The burial facility was opened in 1995, following extensive consultation with various religious groups in the area (Hornsey & Crouch End Journal, 16.04.98). [BMMS April 1998 Vol. VI, No. 4, p. 15]

 

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