British Muslims Monthly Survey for June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Crime and Disorder Bill

Nation of Islam inquiry protest

 

 

Reports

 

Community

Finance news

China pigs controversy

Fugitive still sought

Prince Naseem child

Glasgow murder update

Centre appointment

Deportation cases

Maidenhead exhibition

Community centre plans

Coin controversy

Photography exhibition

Keighley Woking visit

Prince Hassan lecture

Trainer interview

Burton volunteers reception

Islamic Relief appeal

Nottingham Islam exhibition

Bristol honour

Khayyal theatre production

Nike update

Viscount in court

Q-News "Windrush" articles

Luton mosque visit

Community worker MBE

Birmingham building repairs

Grantham prayers

Chesham Pakistan fundraising

Oxford business school

Cemetery housing complaint

Muslim Institute appointment

Lottery article

Muslim News refused pass

Mawlid al-Nabi celebrations

Nottingham exhibition

Maidenhead art and culture exhibition

Gravesend garden clearance

Foster children appeals

Memorial conference

Hamza Yusuf profile

Anti-euthanasia lobby

Embassy photographs purchase

Suspended CID man thanks mosque

Bradford mela

 

 

Education

Walsall classes continue

Madrasa struggle

Camden homework club

Swindon school purchase

Glasgow Muslim school funding

Terence Pearson interview

Worship in schools

After-school club fundraising

Woking classes stopped

Coventry Muslim schools

Birmingham Muslim school

Swimming lessons withdrawal

Head teacher tribunal

Feversham building plans

 

 

Politics

Nuclear testing reaction

Web site closure

Derby mayor’s advisor

Labour election losses

Brent advisory group

Muslims to Lords

 

 

Racism

Pendle group established

Shop attacks

Kensington forum appointment

Worcester racism concerns

Association accused

 

 

Women

Kidnap parents jailed

Women’s group exhibition

Women and football

Arranged marriages stories

Kick boxer

Self help plans

Award for assaulted student

Equality article

MP women’s meeting

Preston assertiveness training

 

 

Youth

Wembley trip

 

Interfaith

Brondesbury service

Prize for Sir Sigmund

Civic call to prayer

Methodist conference address

 

 

Halal

Slaughter controversy

Supermarkets halal stock

Mediterranean diet origins

Heathrow catering expansion

 

 

Health

Nursing home problems

 

 

Employment

Factory prayer

Compensation award

Gloves dispute

Sheffield sexual discrimination

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor

Barking, Victoria Rd

Bedford, Commercial Rd

Bradford, Darfield St

Bradford, Steadman Terr (Leeds Rd)

Clitheroe, Holden St

Gateshead burials

Glodwick burials

Halifax, Hopwood Lane

Hemel Hempstead, St Albans Hill

Kettering, Grassmere Rd

Luton burials

Luton, Bury Park Rd

Luton, Westbourne Rd

Peterborough, Gladstone St

Reading, Hamilton Rd (Alexandra Rd)

Slough, Stoke Poges Lane & Navy club

Stoke on Trent burials

Wolverhampton, Waterloo Rd

 

 

FEATURES

Crime and Disorder Bill

Several newspapers (Blackburn Lancs Evening Telegraph, Daily Mail, 17.06.98, Daily Jang, 22.06.98) report that the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has apparently changed his mind on the question of legislation to protect Muslims from religious discrimination and harassment (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for January, March and May 1998). This could take the form of an amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill, which is currently going through Parliament. Jack Straw’s decision was announced in a letter in response to representations made by the Muslim Council of Britain and to concerns of his own constituents in Blackburn. He wrote: "I have decided to table an amendment to make it absolutely clear that even where there may be a religious element to a particular crime, if the hostility is even partly racist, it will be covered by the new provisions. We are confident that this will cover the vast majority of cases involving the Muslim community" (Daily Jang, 22.06.98). He also said: "It is a matter of concern which has been raised by Muslim leaders in Blackburn with me. I am trying to find a way of framing new legislation that is workable" (Bolton Evening News, 18.06.98). Ishtiaq Ahmed, of the Bradford Racial Equality Council welcomed Mr Straw’s interest in Muslim concerns, saying: "Any amendment to the existing law to extend protection to other faiths must be good news and will be welcomed by the Muslim community in Bradford. This is another step by the Government to recognise that Britain is a multi-faith country" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 18.06.98).

On 19 June, an amendment was tabled to the bill, which was extensively reported. The amendment is to the effect that where there may be a religious element to a crime, if the hostility can be shown to be even partially racially motivated, then it will be covered by the provisions on racial aggravation. Jack Straw said: "When the perpetrators of these offences attack Muslims they rarely if ever do so because of a specific hostility towards the tenets of Islam. They do so principally because of racist hostility" (Walsall Express & Star, Barnsley Star, Sheffield Star, Wolverhampton Express & Star, 20.06.98). The stance of much of the Muslim press (Q-News, 01.07.98, Muslim News, 26.07.98, Awaaz, 01.07.98) and the ethnic minority press (Eastern Eye, 26.06.98, Asian Times, 30.06.98) is that the Home Secretary’s point of view has probably been changed by representations from his Muslim constituents and from national Muslim organisations, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, but that the amendment is still insufficient. One of the main reasons for this is that Islam is a world-wide faith which knows no barriers of race. Hence, Muslims from the white majority in Britain are still unlikely to be protected.

Writing in Q-News, Khalida Khan, the director of An-Nisa Society, explains: "As a former race worker, I felt disillusioned as my work did not address the discrimination and harassment faced by my people. These feelings came to a head when a white woman wearing hijab and clearly identifiable as Muslim was attacked whilst in a bed and breakfast hotel awaiting rehousing. She was attacked by a white man who chanted anti-Muslim abuse as he beat her with her children cowering under the table. As far as I was concerned I felt that she should be given priority for rehousing as a case of racial harassment – only to be told that it was a case of ‘white on white’ and hence did not qualify to be a case of racial harassment. The lack of sensitivity and recognition of this woman’s experience left me appalled. And of course this was not recorded as an anti-Muslim case". Another case which Khalida Khan details is that of a Somali Muslim woman, who was so badly beaten by a gang of youths chanting anti-Muslim abuse, as to be unrecognisable. The police did not accept that this was an anti-Muslim attack, nor did they accept that it counted as a racial attack, because some of the youths were black. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 1]

 

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Nation of Islam inquiry protest

A great many newspapers, both local and national, have reported on the disruption of the enquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, held in an office building in the Elephant and Castle area on 29 June. During the evidence of one of those who had been twice accused of the murder but never convicted, Jamie Acourt, a dozen members of the Nation of Islam broke through two security cordons and burst into the room where the hearing was being held. The room was packed with 40 people, as all the seats for the public had already been taken. However, one of the protesters shouted: "You are stopping the public from coming into the inquiry. You are disrespecting black people" (The Times, 30.06.98). Two policemen were injured and two members of the Nation of Islam were arrested. Police used CS gas and batons to break up the affray inside the building. On 1 July, the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, again renewed the order excluding the leader of the nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan (see BMMS for January and February 1998) from entering Britain on a visit (Independent, 01.07.98, The Times, 02.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 1/2]

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Reports

Community

Finance news

The Mirror (10.06.98) has an article on ethical investments, including a mention of: "The Al Medina Equity Fund [which] is designed to follow the sharia - the Islamic code of law and ethics. It avoids companies involved in gambling, pork or alcohol, and banks and insurance companies that lend money for interest". In Llanelli, a financial advisor, David Peek, has recently started to sell Manzil, the so-called "Muslim mortgage" (see BMMS for January, February, April and May 1998). Mr Peek said: "There are around one and a half million Muslims throughout the UK and Llanelli itself already has a sizeable Muslim population which appears to be growing. We can now help Muslims who do not wish to pay interest when they buy their new home. This is the only home purchase scheme in the UK which has been designed to be compatible with Muslim law. I am pleased to be able to offer the most comprehensive service possible for as many people as possible, and becoming an agent for the Manzil scheme means I can cater for a large section of society that many other financial advisers don’t" (Barry Port Star, 28.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 2]

 

 

China pigs controversy

Q-News (01.06.98) reports that the Sun, the main national newspaper reporting on the case of the woman in Leicester whose pig ornaments were confiscated by police as being evidence of a possible breach of public order (see BMMS for May 1998), omitted to mention certain salient details. These were that there had been a history of feuding between Ms Bennett, the owner of the china ornaments, and local Muslims; that the display in the window was calculated to give offence and did not consist merely of the ornaments; and that the dispute between neighbours stemmed from Ms Bennett’s hostility to the patrols of vigilantes who were attempting to keep street-walking prostitutes out of the area. Manzoor Moghul of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, speaking about the way in which the Sun handled the issue, said: "These people are mischief makers, out and out racists. What they’ve done is picked up a story from somebody and taken bits of it to say that an innocent woman is being persecuted by militant Muslims. It is terrible the way they’ve done it. If there was no case the police wouldn’t have taken the action that they have". A letter in the Walsall Express & Star (23.06.98), from a respondent who, from his name appears not to be Muslim, points out that: "The reason the Leicester police acted was that the lady had placed one of her pigs prominently on a verse (in Arabic) of the Koran and placed a paper topi on a cut out of a pig’s head in her window. Most people would see this as deliberately provocative. Should we perhaps enquire more fully before criticising the Muslim community…" [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 2]

 

 

Fugitive still sought

Several police forces working in conjunction are still looking for Hamsa Latif, wanted in connection with the murder of Costin Tucker in Leicester. Following posters put up in mosques across the country (see BMMS for January and March 1998), police have received information from many Muslims, but so far have been unable to catch the suspect. Detective Inspector Bob White of the Milton Keynes police said: "I think Latif knows that we are looking for him. We will keep hunting until we find him. Mr Tucker’s family have been very co-operative as we head fast towards the first anniversary of the death. They want to see his murderer brought to book" (Milton Keynes on Sunday, 07.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 2]

 

 

Prince Naseem child

The Barnsley Star (11.06.98) has a report on the birth of a child to the boxing champion, Prince Naseem Hamed and his wife Eleasha (see BMMS for February 1998). At the time of the local newspaper going to press, the 6lb10oz baby boy had not yet been given a name. A spokesperson for the Sheffield Pakistan Muslim Centre said: "As soon as the child is born a little prayer is whispered in its ear. A little boy will be circumcised. Children are strictly taught the Islamic way of life from their early days. They are taught how to pray at the mosques which they attend early on". The family live in the Eccleshall area of Sheffield. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 2]

 

 

Glasgow murder update

The murder trial of those accused of killing the schoolboy Imran Khan in a racist attack in Glasgow (see BMMS for March 1998) has been postponed for six weeks because the defence preparation had not been completed. Imran’s mother, Shamshad Khan, said: "I do not understand why all this is happening to our family. Other people’s cases move forward whilst ours is moving in a backward direction. I am not satisfied however, I want justice to be done". Riaz Ahmed, president of the Association of the Asian Business Community, has written to the Secretary of State for Scotland, raising a number of questions about Imran’s treatment in the Victoria Infirmary and about the actions of the police and calling for an independent public enquiry (Daily Jang, 16.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 2/3]

 

 

Centre appointment

A new full-time manager has been appointed at the Muslim Community Centre in Heckmondwicke. He is Amer Bhatti and he will concentrate on educational provision. The post is partly funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust (Spenborough Guardian, 28.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Deportation cases

Q-News (01.06.98) has a short report on two immigration cases, that of Mohammed Ahmed of Bradford and Idris Patel, of Blackburn, whose lawyers unsuccessfully argued that Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, had acted unlawfully in deporting them, as they have British wives and children. Mr Justice Sullivan, deciding against the appellants in the High Court, ruled that the rights of the children of illegal immigrants were "a consideration - but not the primary consideration". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Maidenhead exhibition

The Slough-based Al-Nasar Centre recently organised an exhibition of Islamic culture and art at Maidenhead Library. A spokesperson for the organisers said it had been very successful: "Many people have enjoyed the exhibition. We have had enquiries from headteachers in the area about bringing the exhibition to their schools" (Maidenhead Advertiser, 29.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Community centre plans

The Anjuman-e-Islamia group has been granted planning permission to redevelop a former builders’ merchants premises as a community centre in High Street North, Manor Park. The new centre will be used for community, leisure and educational purposes and there will also be a funeral preparation area (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

Coin controversy

Dr Salah Kenawy, deputy director of the London Islamic Cultural Centre has written to Pobjoy Mint, the manufacturers of commemorative coins, protesting about one which depicts an episode from Islamic history. Around the image of the Prophet and his Companions are the words "Flight of Mohammed 622". Dr Kenawy wrote: "The Muslim community neither accepts the definition in the UK of the Hijra as ‘Flight’...Moreover Islam does not allow sketching, drawing or depicting the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him)". Pobjoy has offered to publish a correction in its in-house magazine and to send out the correction to every new UK customer who buys the coins (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Photography exhibition

A photographic exhibition about Muslim women and the veil, entitled "Concealed Visions - Veiled Sisters" is on show in Brixton. The artist-photographer is 23 year-old Sabera Bham. She said: "I wanted to create alternative images of the veil, images that would challenge the mainstream conception and show the veil wearers to be able to express themselves" (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Keighley Woking visit

Sixteen members of the Sangat Day Centre in Keighley recently went on an outing to see Britain’s first purpose-built mosque, the Shahjahan Mosque at Woking, the nearby Muslim cemetery where Indian Muslim soldiers who fought in the First World War are buried and to see the tourist sights of central London. On their return home, the elderly men were treated to a meal at the Shabina Restaurant in Bradford, paid for by Abdul Ghafoor to celebrate the birth of his son (Keighley News, 03.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Prince Hassan lecture

On 5 June Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan was due to give a lecture on "Tradition and Modernity in Islam" at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. This is the 21st St George’s House annual lecture (Windsor, Ascot & Maidenhead Observer, 05.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Trainer interview

The Racing Post (06.06.98) has an interview with Saeed Bin Suroor, trainer of Sheikh Mohammed’s racehorses in England, amongst them the very successful Cape Verdi. Saeed Bin Suroor is originally from Dubai and is now resident in England in Newmarket. Describing his daily routine, he said: "I get up at 4am or 4.30am every day. I am a Muslim and the first thing I do is pray. I pray five times a day. We start with the horses at 5.30am. I talk to the riders about the horses and any problems. Then we decide where we are going to run them. I finish in the yard about 11.30am and go back in the afternoon from about 4pm to 6.30pm. Often, I go to the races. I have spent all my life with horses. I know a lot but until I die I will be learning more". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Burton volunteers reception

A reception was recently held in Burton-on-Trent’s Town Hall to honour local volunteers, as part of National Volunteers Week. There were about 200 volunteers from 27 organisations, amongst them Mohammed Jamil, Rafaqat Hussain, Haji Ghulam Hussain and Mumtaz Khan from the Pakistani Community Centre (Burton Mail, 06.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Islamic Relief appeal

Islamic relief’s East Midlands branch, based in Leicester, has launched an appeal for funds to help the victims of the earthquake in Afghanistan (see BMMS for February 1998) and the conflict in Albania and Kosovo. Donations can be sent to Islamic Relief, 56 Chatsworth Street, Leicester, LE2 0FP, telephone 0116 251 3450 (Leicester Mercury, 11.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3]

 

 

Nottingham Islam exhibition

The Islamic Experience exhibition, which was held for two weeks at the end of June in the Islamic Centre in Curzon Street, Nottingham, has been judged by its organisers to have been a great success. The formal opening of the exhibition was attended by the Sheriff of Nottingham, Chris Gibson, the Lord Mayor of Nottingham Joyce Donn and several Nottingham MPs (Nottingham Recorder, 18.06.98). The person responsible for bringing the exhibition to Nottingham and organising school parties to see it is Ibrahim Lawson, who is head of RE and Islamic Studies at Greenwood Dale Comprehensive School, Sneiton (Nottingham Evening Post, 12.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 3/4]

 

 

Bristol honour

Abdul Wahab, co-founder of Bristol’s first mosque, was recently awarded an MBE for his services to the Asian community and to community relations (Bristol Evening Post, 13.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4]

 

 

Khayyal theatre production

Muslim News (26.06.98) and Q-News (01.07.98) both carry extensive and positive reviews of the Khayyal theatre group’s recent staging of the Sufi play, the Conference of the Birds (see BMMS for May 1998). Q-News (01.07.98) gives an account of the main plot of the play and mentions that there are also illustrative fables in the original version: "Khayyal’s straitened circumstances precludes a more ‘authentic’ treatment of these sub-stories. Ornate Eastern props and sets, with elaborate costumes, would add immensely to the overall feel of the play. Instead Khayyal has to settle for the 20th century setting of a TV discussion programme and a jet airliner on which to embark on their spiritual ascent. The absence of atmosphere means a tougher job for the cast. In this department though there are no shortcomings". Muslim News (26 June 1998) concludes its review: "It has certainly been a splendid effort on the part of Khayyal. Perhaps the PR and certain matters of presentation (such as the programme) needed work – but overall it has been a professional performance executed by professional artists. The unleashing of the ‘imagination’ of Muslim contemporaries is long, long overdue. Let us applaud these efforts and welcome an era of healthy entertainment, enlightenment and creativity. This bird in the hand certainly is of unestimable [sic] value". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4]

 

 

Nike update

The controversy continues between Nike, the manufacturers of training shoes and some Muslim organisations, both in the UK and the USA (see BMMS for April and May 1998). Ghulam Rasul, president of the Bradford Council for Mosques, told Muslim News (26.06.98): "Nike representatives told us that they had reached an agreement with CAIR [Council for American Islamic Relations] that the shoes could go on sale providing the logo was ‘obliterated’ and one of the ways was by ‘heat sealed stickers’, and they believed this was alright. We warned Nike officials that it was not acceptable to stick a patch over the logo knowing full well that Allah’s name was on the shoes. Hiding the name was not enough. It has to be removed". Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for CAIR, denied that there had been an agreement with Nike over the question of the stickers. He said: "We had agreed they would obliterate the logo and then resale the shoes. We would never have agreed to the solution of sticking a patch over Allah’s name. We were never shown the shoes with patches on them". The threat of a boycott of the shoes by Muslims therefore remains a possibility (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4]

 

 

Viscount in court

Viscount Jamie Reidhaven, formerly a member of a Sufi order and heir to a £40 million family fortune, has appeared in court in connection with making nuisance phone calls (see BMMS for May 1998). David Barton, defending, said: "In the early 1990’s, he became involved in a religious cult and was subjected to intense indoctrination. The effects of what transpired in the cult are still with him. He has over the years taken steps to obtain help and support and it has been very valuable. The process of recovery is ongoing. He is not accused of making calls of a malicious nature. He acknowledges that the quantity of calls was unacceptable. He suffers from low self-esteem and low self-respect. He had been banned from a pub that he had used for two to three years. There was a difference between him and the landlord and a member of the staff. He felt he had been poorly treated. He apologised for his part and asked for recognition that the member of staff had contributed to the state of affairs. He regrets what happened" (The Times, 30.06.98). Viscount Reidhaven had a conditional discharge for one year and was ordered to pay £50 costs (Scotsman, 30.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4]

 

 

Q-News "Windrush" articles

Following the recent BBC television series of programmes under the title "Windrush", to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the sailing of a ship of that name from the West Indies to Britain bringing immigrants, Q-News (01.07.98) has a supplement celebrating the African-Caribbean Muslim presence in Britain. The first article is by Imruh Bakari, who argues that the television series was superficial and gave a distorted view of the black and Muslim presence in Britain. The second article is by Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison, author of The Forbidden Dialogues: The Impact of Islam on the Future of the African Diaspora. This is followed by an essay by Muhammad Yasin Khan on Islam in the Caribbean, and by a piece on Hazrat Bilal, the very first muezzin in Islam, who was black. The final article is an interview with Muhammad Yasser, who came to Britain from Barbados in 1957, aged 17. He was interviewed in the BBC’s series. On coming to Britain, he intended to study medicine, but instead became a writer and actor. Today he is a naturopath, herbalist and nutritionist with a clinic in west London. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4]

 

 

Luton mosque visit

Four crown court judges, four magistrates and two senior police officers recently made a visit to Luton’s Central Mosque in Westbourne Road in order to find out more about Islam and Islamic culture (see BMMS for May 1998 and report in Mosques & Burials in this issue of BMMS). The guests spent over an hour touring the building. Akbar Dad Khan, spokesperson for the mosque, said: "They seemed very impressed by it" (Luton News, 10.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 4/5]

 

 

Community worker MBE

The Rochdale Observer (17.06.98) has a report on a local community worker, Raza Shamin, who has been awarded an MBE. This was granted in recognition of her work as chair of the Ashiana Housing Association. The association manages approximately 1,000 homes across the north-west. Razia Shamin has been a governor of four schools and chair of Rochdale Race Equality Council, of which she is currently vice-chair. She is also involved with Age Concern and runs an Asian Elders scheme. She said: "It’s nice to get involved and I would like to see more Asian people getting these awards and helping their community". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Birmingham building repairs

The British Association of Muslims, who own the former Birmingham Art School building, which is a Grade II listed building, is asking English Heritage and the European Renewal Fund for money for further renovations. The chair of the association, Javed Arain, said: "We worked very hard to repair the interior without asking for help from any other bodies. We are now looking to do the outside. It would be a disaster if all the Urban Renewal money ran out without repairing this building". Eva Ling of the 20th Century Society said: "The building is a very impressive classical style building and one of architect William Henry Bidlake’s few public buildings. But it is in a poor state. If the current owners have not got the money to maintain it perhaps an appeal should be launched to raise funds" (Birmingham Metronews, 18.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Grantham prayers

A doctor from Grantham hospital, Dr Shafquat Abrar, has hired a hall for Friday prayers. The space is Studio Four at The Guildhall and it is booked from 1pm to 2pm on Fridays. Dr Abrar said: "This is a great opportunity for people of my faith to get together in one place and say prayers. The room is actually booked from 1pm to 2pm, but the prayers only take around five minutes. The tradition of Friday prayers is as strong for Muslims as the Sunday service is for Christian believers" (Grantham Journal, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Chesham Pakistan fundraising

The Chesham mosque committee has launched a charity appeal for funds for projects in Pakistan. The chair of the committee, Mohammed Saleem, said: "We will be looking at different fundraising ideas with a view to repeating the successful fundraising scheme we ran last year when a similar, but lower profile appeal for funds was made. We raised over £2,000 last year for worthy causes in Pakistan, and it would be good to be able to repeat that" (Chesham Bucks Examiner, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Oxford business school

Oxford University is planning to submit proposals for planning permission for the Said Business School. Wafic Said, after whom the school is named, has donated £20 million towards the project. He said he was delighted with the architect’s plans: "I believe the design will add a building of real merit to Oxford’s architectural heritage and will give the school a building and facilities comparable with the best in the world" (Oxford Times, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Cemetery housing complaint

A Muslim refugee family from former Yugoslavia say that plans to house them in a former cemetery gatehouse are offensive (Teletext, 21.06.98, Loughborough Echo, 21.06.98). Isaf Zenumi, his wife, their four children and a family friend are currently in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation in Loughborough; having rejected the offer of the gatehouse made to them by the council. John Kershaw, spokesperson for the social services department, said: "As far as social services are concerned, we have a duty to make sure they have the essentials, which are food, warmth and shelter". The family, who arrived in Loughborough in the back of a lorry in April, would prefer to live in Leicester, where there are more of their compatriots (Loughborough Echo, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Muslim Institute appointment

Dr Yaqub Zaki has been appointed Deputy Director of the Muslim Institute for Research and Planning. He was formerly a lecturer in Islamic Studies at Lancaster University and has also been a visiting professor at Harvard University. Dr Zaki was born in Greenock, Scotland, and converted to Islam at an early age. He was educated in Britain and Spain and is fluent in Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese. He is the author of two works on Hispanic-Arabic poetry, has made many studies of Islamic architecture and liturgy, and is a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Lottery article

Muslim News has an editorial concerned with the ethical and religious issues around the National Lottery. One issue it raises is: "The administration of the national lottery and its Charities Board are creating many jobs with good career structures. Should Muslim graduates who are already being excluded from so many employment opportunities, as a result of discrimination, avoid these jobs? Would engaging in these activities also be engaging in haram?" (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Muslim News refused pass

At the celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the state of Israel on 19 April, Muslim News was refused a press pass. The organisers of the event included the Board of Deputies for British Jews and the Zionist Federation. The precise reason for the refusal is not known, although Muslim News (26.06.98) believes it may be concerned with their reporting of Zionist attempts to have the London-based Palestinian charity, Interpal closed down. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5]

 

 

Mawlid al-Nabi celebrations

The Jamiyat Tabligh-Ul-Islam in Bradford organised a gathering to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad on 28 June. More than 500 people took part in the gathering, which started with a march and concluded with prayers and speeches at the Jamiyat Tabligh-Ul-Islam mosque in Victor Street (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 29.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 5/6]

 

 

Nottingham exhibition

An exhibition of the reminiscences of South Asians who came to Nottingham in the 1940’s and 1950’s and an accompanying book have been launched by APNA Arts and the EKTA Luncheon Club for Elderly Asians. Nadeem Haider, the community artist who took the photos and conducted some of the interviews said of those who had contributed their memories: "They really like having their stories set out¼ They feel like stars" (Q-News, 01.07.98).[BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Maidenhead art and culture exhibition

An exhibition on Islamic culture and art at Maidenhead Library has attracted considerable interest. A spokesperson for the organisers, the Slough-based Al-Nasar Centre, said: "Many people have enjoyed the exhibition. We have had enquiries from head teachers in the area about bringing the exhibition to their schools" (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Gravesend garden clearance

Groundwork, the community arts group, together with Gravesend’s Muslim Women’s Group, has got children of families attending the mosque to clear the garden of weeds and rubbish and to restore the space as a garden. David Evans, of Groundwork Thameside and the Muslim Women’s Group are planning more such activities for the future (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Foster children appeals

Q-News (01.07.98) reports that Leeds City Council is hoping to recruit more Muslim foster parents. Stuart Wilson, fostering and adoption officer in the city, said: "Children need more than just love and care. They need the security of having a familiar culture to identify with. We always try to place children with carers of the same culture, ethnicity and religious background but with Muslim and Sikh children there are just not enough volunteers. In these case Muslim children have to be placed in non-Muslim homes for long or short-term periods". Potential foster carers in the Leeds area can phone 0800 801 900 for an information pack. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Memorial conference

On 7 June a memorial conference on the life of Ayatollah Khomeini was held at the School of Oriental and African Studies and organised by the England Islamic Centre. Imam Khomeini died on 3 June 1987. Speakers included Professor Ahmed Algar; Mohammed al-Asi, an imam from Washington; and Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, who was also one of the organisers of the conference. He said that Khomeini’s principal legacy ought to be: "to remind ulema to get out of their mosques and libraries and put Islam into practice". He felt the conference had been a success: "The aim of the conference was not to revere the Imam – no, it was to remind people of his principles. The principles are more important than the man. We must use his ideas and his methodology to bring peace and justice to the world…the turnout at the conference was great and I’m pleased it was such a success" (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Hamza Yusuf profile

Q-News (01.07.98) has an article on Imam Hamza Yusuf, imam at the Santa Clara Masjid in California, who recently lectured to a large audience at Friend’s House in Euston, London. He is an influential and frequent visitor to the U.K. According to the writer of the article, Nadeem Azam, one of the themes of his talk was that disasters brought about by a Year-2000 computer bug could well herald the end of the world. His speech concluded with a call to unity: "When your house is burning down and somebody offers you a bucket of water, you don’t ask what akeeda he has. Similarly, we as Muslims, who are being attacked on all sides, need to focus on what unites us and not what divides us". There is a short biography of Hamza Yusuf, who was born into a Greek Orthodox family in Washington and embraced Islam in 1977. He has studied with many sheikhs, including Sheikh Murabit al-Hajj in the UAE and others in Saudi Arabia and Algeria. He has also studied in secular universities in the USA. Prior to becoming imam at Santa Clara Mosque, he was a teacher of Arabic and Islamic Studies there. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

Anti-euthanasia lobby

Muslims were amongst protestors who recently lobbied the House of Commons concerning the Mental Incapacity Bill, whose opponents argue it is a way of introducing euthanasia into British law. Other opponents included the Chief Rabbi, the Boards of Social Responsibility of the Church of England and of the Church of Scotland, and the Catholic Church. The photograph in Q-News (01.07.98) of some of the protestors included Farah Khan of the Association of Muslim Lawyers. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6]

 

 

Embassy photographs purchase

The Saudi Arabian Embassy in London has recently purchased a set of the first ever photographs of Mecca and Medina, which were sold at auction at Sotheby’s for £1,376,500. They comprise 18 photos, taken by an Egyptian photographer, Sadiq Bey, in 1881 and 1882. Dr Ghazi Algosaibi, Saudi Arabian ambassador, said that his government wanted "to house this unique collection as part of its continuing responsibility to honour the Two Holy Mosques and to preserve a full accurate documented history of the two shrines". Roger Griffiths, the Sotheby’s specialist in charge of the sale, elaborated on the significance of the photos: "Bey’s photographs provide a fascinating early record of the architecture, camps and environs of Mecca and Medina in the late 19th century. Prior to this photographic evidence, the only visual images of the cities were occasional diagrams found in manuscripts and together with descriptions written by some of the great Arab and European travellers. These photographs are more graphic and comprehensive than any pictorial record previously produced" (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 6/7]

 

 

Suspended CID man thanks mosque

Ray Mallon, the former head of Middlesborough’s CID, who was suspended in December pending investigations into alleged misconduct, has once again publicly thanked the town’s Muslims for the support they have shown him. Addressing worshippers at the mosque in Waterloo Road, he said: "I appreciate all the prayers that have been said for me and they have given me and those connected with me the strength to go on…The police force is bigger than just one man – they are trying hard to do a good job and I have faith in them". Zafar Iqbal, general secretary of the Islamic Society, said of Mr Mallon: "We have a great deal of respect for him"(Middlesborough Evening Gazette, 20.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Bradford mela

The Daily Jang (03.07.98) had a report on the then forthcoming Bradford mela, or Asian fair, due to take place on 4 and 5 July. Amongst the musicians invited to perform was Riswan Qawwali, a group influenced by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the greatest exponents of qawwali of modern times. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

Education

Walsall classes continue

A terraced house in Cannon Street, Walsall, looks likely to be able to continue to be used as a madrasa in spite of complaints by neighbours of the disruptive behaviour of some of the students. This is because the Butts Muslim Society can prove that the premises have been used for this purpose continually since 1985. Mohammed Abrar, speaking on behalf of the Butts Muslim Society, said: "We do not wish for any of our classes to disturb the neighbours. After the one incident we informed parents and that was the last I heard of it. We are more than willing to talk to the council and the residents to come to an agreement that suits everyone" (Walsall Advertiser, 28.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Madrasa struggle

Awaaz (01.07.98) reports that Kirklees Council has once again postponed making a decision on the future of the Thornhill Lees madrasa (see BMMS for April 1998). Two local councillors, Fred Pickles and Khizer Iqbal, have expressed their support for the madrasa, whose land is at risk of repossession by the council. Councillor Iqbal said: "As a Muslim I am aware of the importance of the madrasa to local people for the religious education of children and it is for this purpose alone I fully support keeping the madrasa. I intend to seek the support of other councillors on the planning committee and I hope the matter can be resolved for the benefit of the madrasa committee and in particular for the benefit of the children who attend this madrasa". In May, the local tenants and residents association visited the madrasa and their fears about access to the site were allayed. As a result, they have withdrawn their objections and are now supporting the madrasa. Kiklees planning officers, however, are still objecting to the renewal, largely on the grounds of car parking (Awaaz, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Camden homework club

The Homework Club run by Camden Refugee Education Project has won a Commission for Racial Equality Award for its work with refugees and asylum seekers. The scheme, based at South Camden Community School, enables youngsters from countries such as Somalia, Eritrea and Albania to do their homework in a supportive environment with specialist help in English (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Swindon school purchase

The Muslim community in Swindon has been given more time by Wiltshire County Council to purchase the former Queenstown Infants’ School. One councillor, Beryl Jay (Labour) argued in favour of withdrawing from the proposed sale and putting the school on the open market, but she was out-voted (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Glasgow Muslim school funding

Q-News (01.06.98) has an article has a report on the proposed Glasgow Muslim girls’ school, for which the preferred site is the former Belllahouston Academy (see BMMS for February, March, April and May 1998). The IQRA Community Trust has now secured a loan of £150,000 from the Bank of Scotland, on condition that it raises matching funding. Once the school is running, the trust hopes that fees paid by parents, plus the income generated by a nursery and a recreational centre on the site will be sufficient to run a school with places for 300 girls eventually. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7]

 

 

Terence Pearson interview

Q-News (01.06.98) has an interview with Terence Pearson, the headteacher of an Islamic primary school in London, the Avenue School. He was asked if children who attended a Muslim school would have the social skills to survive in a multi-religious/non-religious society. Terence Pearson replied: "One thing I think is crucial and lacking in some state schools is social skills and simple manners. Too many kids are not taught to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. I tell my pupils these are good places to start when dealing with non-Muslims. As regards the ability to survive, I would like to think our children would be capable of that. Let me read something from our prospectus: "The School aspires to lay down the firm foundations that will enable each child to develop into a well-adjusted, upright human being, with a strong faith, proud to be a Muslim, with sound knowledge of his/her heritage and values as well as of the world around us...and the confidence and ability to contribute to the betterment of both the local and national communities’". When asked about his conversion to Islam, he replied: "Islam was never an option until I became interested in the fortunes of Islamic schools in the education press. I started to investigate. There was a lot on TV because of the Rushdie business. I became a Muslim bit-by-bit. I learnt salat (on my own) and sought out Muslim company. I was introduced to people such as Imam Sajid at Brighton mosque and Shaykh Fadhlallah Haeri. The latter advised me to take shahada at a sufi gathering (I’m not a sufi) and so I did in June 1995". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 7/8]

 

 

Worship in schools

The Newcastle Journal (04.06.98) has an article on the controversy concerning possible changes to the legal requirement that schools should have a daily act of worship (see BMMS for May 1998). Amongst those interviewed is Canon David Whittington, director of education for the diocese of Durham. He believes that the majority of parents want the explicitly Christian assemblies to continue. He said: "Most Moslem families are able to cope with it and as long as the service doesn’t encourage differences between Christianity and Islam, most Moslem families won’t withdraw from services which are explicitly Christian".

The Catholic weekly, The Tablet (20.06.98), also has a debate on the question of the daily act of worship in schools. Eleanor Watts, a teacher in a primary school with children from many different faith communities in Gravesend, Kent, is opposed to the act of collective worship in state schools. She writes: "My Muslim pupils have been taught by their parents to believe there is no God but Allah and that any image of God is blasphemy. Some of my Christian pupils have been taught by their parents that no prayers can reach God’s ears unless they are asked in Jesus’ name. The statutory act of worship is fraught with problems. As a teacher in a multi-ethnic primary school, I believe it is neither possible nor right to ask children to pray in assembly". She concludes: "It is time for us to grow up and recognise that it is the family’s responsibility to bring children up in their own faith. It is the school’s responsibility to teach children to understand – and respect – the faiths of other people". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

After-school club fundraising

The Muslim Cultural and Welfare Association (MCWA) of Sutton has won £1,500 from competing in the BBC’s Q Asia quiz programme. They are donating the money to the Wentworth Hall’s children’s after-school club, which will be run by the MCWA, starting from September (Sutton Guardian, 11.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

Woking classes stopped

Following complaints from neighbours about noise, a group of Shi’a Muslims in Maybury, Woking, has been banned from using a three bedroomed house as a base for religious education classes for children. The planning sub-committee decided that the three-bedroomed house in Walton Road was too small for this purpose, because up to 35 children attended at a time. They refused planning permission and voted for the use of an enforcement order should unauthorised use be continued (Working News & Mail, 11.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

Coventry Muslim schools

The trustees of the Paradise Muslim School in Cromwell Street, Coventry, have accused councillors of ignoring their pleas for help in finding new premises. In March, the council’s planning committee gave the school until the end of July to move out of its premises (see BMMS for March, April and May 1998). Sarook Ali, speaking on behalf of the trustees, said: "Prior to the local elections in May, Labour councillors promised to support the needs of the local community and hold dialogue to resolve the issue. They then showed a total lack of consideration of Muslim needs by arranging a meeting on a Friday, which is a day of prayer. We have heard nothing since" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 13.06.98). The school is to appeal against Coventry City Council’s refusal of planning permission. A spokesperson for the Coventry Muslim Schools’ Community Trust said: "The temporary school site serves very important educational needs of the Muslim children. The school is self-supported by the parents in particular and the Muslim communities in general and has attempted to meet all the requirements of the Department for education" (Nuneaton Heartland Evening News, 18.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

Birmingham Muslim school

The Walsall Express & Star, Black Country Evening Mail, Birmingham Evening Mail, Wolverhampton Express & Star, (23.06.98), Birmingham Post (24.06.98) and the Church Times (26.06.98) all carry reports that St Oswald’s, a redundant church in Small Heath, Birmingham, has been sold to be converted to a Muslim primary school. The school will be called Hamd House and the headteacher will be Israr Khan (see BMMS for December 1996 and January 1997). He explained: "It will be a Muslim school and the overwhelming number of pupils will be from the Muslim community but we will also accept children from other faiths. Hamd House will seek to address the under-representation of Muslim children within the city’s grammar schools. The 106-year-old church is a building of tremendous character and charm which will be a marvellous centre for the school’s activities". The Bishop of Birmingham, the right Rev Mark Santer, said he fully supported the plans. "Instead of being a burden, this redundant building is rightly being used for the community" (Walsall Express & Star, Wolverhampton Express & Star, 23.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

Swimming lessons withdrawal

Some progress has been made in the case of the Muslim schoolgirl at Lister Community School in Newham, east London, who was punished for refusing to participate in mixed swimming lesson (see BMMS for April 1998). Nasira Younas, the mother of the school student, told Muslim News (26.06.98) that she hoped there would be "a speedy and successful outcome" to the problem. The headteacher, Linda McGowan, has agreed to consider changing the late marks against Nosheen Younas’ name in the register to actual attendance and Nosheen has now been provided with an alternative activity to swimming lessons. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8]

 

 

Head teacher tribunal

Muslim News (26.06.98) and Q-News (01.07.98) have belated news about the findings of an industrial tribunal in Leeds on 14 May in favour of the headteacher unfairly dismissed from her post at Leeds Islamia Girls School (see BMMS for May 1998). The tribunal found that the school had operated in breach of contract in its treatment of Nighat Mirza, when they decided to cut her salary from £20,000 to £14,000 and to advertise her post as a vacancy. Ms Mirza’s representative at the tribunal hearing, Val Rowlands of the Northern Complainant Aid Fund, said: "Mrs Mirza was very well qualified, very experienced and would have been an asset to any school. Instead of recognising this, her employers treated her extraordinarily badly" (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 8/9]

 

 

Feversham building plans

Feversham College, the Bradford Muslim girls’ school (see BMMS for November 1997), has gained planning permission to develop the site of the former St George’s School. This will allow the school to increase its numbers to 560 and give it a better chance of obtaining state funding (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

Politics

Nuclear testing reaction

Many different reactions have come from Muslim organisations in Britain regarding the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan (see BMMS for May 1998). In Oxford, a letter to Tony Blair, sent by Muslim community leaders, including Mohammed Khan, chair of the trustees of the mosque in Stanley Road, east Oxford, condemned India’s testing and asked for sanctions to be imposed on India (Oxford Times, 29.05.98). In Northampton, the Islamic Pakistani Community Centre issued a statement supporting Pakistan’s nuclear tests. John Sauven, campaign director for Greenpeace, commented on this stance: "I cannot believe what some people are coming out with. Pakistan and India are playing childish games - they don’t like the fact that the nuclear club only included five nations, and wanted to join in. The situation in Asia is about political rhetoric and machismo. It is the poor people who take to the streets and demonstrate, but it is the poor people who will be worst affected when sanctions are introduced" (Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 06.06.98). All the Muslim organisations quoted by Q-News (01.06.98), the Muslim Parliament, the Union of Muslim Organisations, the Muslim Council of Britain, and the Indian Muslim Federation, supported Pakistan’s actions. A spokesperson for the Indian Muslim Federation said: "India should not have started the tests. Once it did so Pakistan’s reaction was inevitable" (Q-News, 01.06.98).

Two MPs from Bury, David Chaytor and Ivan Lewis, recently attended a meeting in London organised by the All Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Conference on the subject of the nuclear tests. Dr Mohammed Salim, chair of Bury Racial Equality Council, chaired one of the sessions at the seminar. He explained how the issue of Kashmir was inextricably linked to that of the nuclear tests and that the Kashmir issue must be debated by Parliament: "The violation of human rights must be highlighted to expose the Indian hypocrisy and local MPs will be consulted to pursue the Kashmir issue at Westminster" (Radcliffe Times, 18.06.98). Muslim News (26.06.98) also carries an article which argues that Kashmir could be a flash point in the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

 

Web site closure

Q-News (01.06.98) reports that al-Muhajiroun’s web site, which was shut down by its internet provider, The Web Factory, following complaints from Jewish organisations about its "inflammatory material" (see BMMS for May 1998), has now relocated. Its new address is: www.ummah.org. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

 

Derby mayor’s advisor

The recently elected mayor of Derby, Councillor Abdul Rahman, who is a Muslim has chosen a spiritual advisor (see BMMS for May 1998). He is the Imam of the Derby Central Mosque, Fazal Ahmed (Derby Evening Telegraph, 26.06.98). Imam Hamid has been at the Central Mosque in Derby since 1985. He was educated at the Islamic University in Pakistan and has a wife and five children. Derby mayor. Four years ago, Nirmal Dhindsa was the first Sikh to become Lord Mayor of Derby (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

 

Labour election losses

Muslim News (26.06.98) has an article on Labour losing previously ‘safe’ seats in the May council elections, sometimes to independent candidates who are Muslims, sometimes to Muslims of other parties (see BMMS for May 1998). The paper reports that in Small Heath, Birmingham, Labour councillor Gulbahar Khan was overthrown by Allah Ditta [the Free Riaz and Qayyum Campaign candidate] and that in Dewsbury West, David Beetham lost to the Liberal Democrat candidate, Karam Hussain. In Thornhill Alan Gibson was defeated by the Conservative candidate, Khizar Iqbal. Councillor Iqbal pointed out that he had the support of Muslims and non-Muslims. He said: "I won because the Tory Party believes in freedom from government control and choice in education, equal opportunity for everyone and industrial enterprise". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

 

Brent advisory group

Brent Council has set up a consultative forum of Muslims to liase between the council and Brent’s 30,000 strong Muslim community. Councillor Lincoln Beswick, who leads the newly formed community development committee, said: "We want to democratise the unique way in which we serve the diverse population by constantly consulting with the community and its leaders in everything we undertake, to ensure that the council caters for all its residents" (Wembley Observer, 18.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9]

 

 

Muslims to Lords

At the end of June, three Muslims were amongst 27 in the political honours list who have been elevated to the peerage. They are: Nazir Ahmed from Rotherham the founder of the National Forum of British Muslim Councillors, active member of Amnesty International, executive member of the Kashmir Policy Group, and someone who is involved in Christian-Muslim relations; Polla Manzia Uddin, Labour councillor from Tower Hamlets, deputy leader of that council for two years and former MEP candidate; and Waheed Ali, managing director of Planet 24 Television and one of Britain’s wealthiest Asians. Waheed Ali is a controversial figure as he is openly homosexual. They join the only other Muslim already in the Lords, Lord Yarborough, a convert to Islam who inherited his title following the death of his father, Lord Northbourne. All three new peers are Labour Party supporters. The Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats did not put forward any Muslims (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 9/10]

 

 

Racism

Pendle group established

A new group whose aim is to promote understanding between different races and religions has been set up in Pendle. It is called Building Bridges. The guest speakers at its recent launch included the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Martyn Jarrett, and the educationalist and scholar Dr Mohammed Akram Cheema from Bradford. Dr Cheema said in his address: "We all want to build bridges. The fact that all sorts of barriers come in the way is the challenge. One of the most wonderful things God has ever done for me is to allow me to live in this country. It has given me a global view. We get to know each other by asking questions...One day, each of us will face our Creator and be asked: ‘What did you do with the gift of life I gave you? Building Bridges is about getting to know Him through our fellow human beings. This is the way forward. If we cannot learn as we go along, we might as well be dinosaurs". Bishop Jarrett said: "Building Bridges is about coming together. Racism, sadly, affects parts of East Lancashire" (Nelson Leader, 29.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

Shop attacks

A Muslim businessman in Edinburgh says that racism is the motive for the tenth attack on his business in the last six months. Recently, Mohammed Javed’s shop was the target of an arson attempt. Mr Javed said: "These are definitely racist attacks. I don’t see attacks happening to any of the other shopowners around here" (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Kensington forum appointment

Rumman Ahmed, a community relations adviser in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea and chief project adviser to the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in North Kensington, has been appointed to the Race Relations Forum. The forum has been set up as an advisory body by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw (Kensington & Chelsea News, 18.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Worcester racism concerns

Nazrul Islam, a recently elected councillor in Worcester, claims that racism is on the increase in the city. He said: "Racial incidents are increasing; I have consulted with a number of people about this and they agree". A report by the Worcester Racial Equality Council (WREC), the city police and Worcester Harassment Action Network (WHAN) shows that these agencies dealt with 56 racial incidents last year. Councillor Islam commented: "While an increase in recording may have played some part in this, there was a strong feeling in Worcestershire that violence was on the rise against a backdrop of increasing political activity by racist groups in the region". The report showed that most victims of racism in the area were from the Pakistani community (Berrow’s Worcester Journal, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Association accused

This year the AGM of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) fell on the same day as the Muslim holy day of Ashura and, in spite of protests, the executive refused to change the date. Professor Prem Sikka, who had suggested that the meeting should be held on a Saturday, was accused of being anti-Semitic. He told Muslim News (26.06.98): "The ACCA should respect all religions and should not organise its AGMs and other business in a manner that disadvantages my Muslim colleagues". Speaking of the rejection of his compromise solution, he said: "They played a religious card. It shocked me when they said I was anti-Semitic as Saturday was a holy day for the Jews". Austin Mitchell MP has written to the ACCA, reminding them that Ashura "was a day of praying and remembering Islamic martyrs rather than a day of business" (Muslim News, 26.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Women

Kidnap parents jailed

On 5 June, Mohammed Bashir and his wife Sekina were sentenced respectively to two years in jail and six months in jail at Manchester Crown Court for attempting to kidnap their daughter, Rehana, aged 20, in order to send her to Pakistan and force her into a marriage there. They gave her the so-called "date-rape" drug Rohypnol in a soft drink and drove her from Luton, where she was studying at university, to Manchester Airport, where they intended to put her on a flight to Pakistan. Leslie Hull, prosecuting, said: "She was told she was in hospital but she noticed an Airtours sign and she realised she was in an airport. Although she was still under the influence of the drug she became angry and complained to staff". The father claimed he and his wife had acted in what they thought were Rehana’s best interests, but he now realised: "I was stupid. And as a result I’ve lost my daughter forever. We haven’t seen or spoken to her since the incident at the airport and we have no idea where she is" (Express, 06.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Women’s group exhibition

The Muslim Women’s Group in Gravesend recently held an exhibition on Islam, at the Muslim Cultural Centre. The event was free and many primary school children attended. Writing and art competitions were held and the winning entries will be displayed next year (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10]

 

 

Women and football

Coinciding with the World Cup Finals, Q-News (01.06.98) has a centre page spread on the topic of women and football. One page is a light hearted round-up asking women if they are interested in watching football and if so, which team they support. The other page is a more serious examination of the opportunities for Asian women in Britain, particularly young Muslim women, to play the game themselves. In Sheffield, one of the aims of Football Unites, Racism Divides (FURD) is to increase the participation of Asian and Muslim women. Jas Bains, author of the report Asians Can’t Play Football, praised FURD’s attempts: "They have done a tremendous amount of work in a short period. Many Muslim women are interested in football and want to play it - FURD gives them the chance". Mark Sudbury of the FA however, was more pessimistic. He said: "Schemes such as those in Sheffield and Bolton are few and far between. And it’s not because the hierarchy is not interested in increasing ethnic-minority female participation in the sport; the problem is the lack of interest. On the whole, ethnic minority women are not that keen on football, and those that are, experience too many hurdles to take it up seriously. There’s too big a stigma" (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 10/11]

 

 

Arranged marriages stories

The Evening Standard (05.06.98) has an interview with "Kay", the Pakistani origin Muslim heroine of a fictionalised account of the story of an arranged marriage which the husband contracted solely to gain a British passport and which ended in violence. The author of the novel is the crime writer, Elizabeth George. Deception on his Mind was published on 18 June by Hodder and Stoughton in paperback, price £6.99. [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11]

 

 

Kick boxer

The Barnsley Star (10.06.98) and the Sheffield Star (10.06.98) have an article about a local Muslim woman Thai kick-boxer, Ameena Mohammed. Ms Mohammed, who is married with a 13 month-old son, explained that she used to be a bus driver and took up kick-boxing after she was threatened by a passenger. In answer to critics who say Muslim women should not do kick-boxing, she says: "The women in the early days of Islam used to fight with daggers". She wears hijab all the time, including when training, and said: "It can get a bit hot in summer but everyone else does as well". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11]

 

 

Self help plans

Muslim women in Moray are hoping to set up a self-help group, called Halaka. Zainab Smith of Lossiemouth said there were about 30 Muslim families in the area, but no community organisations. She said that the nearest mosque was in Inverness and it did not admit women. The group intends to educate both Muslims and non-Muslims on women’s rights, provide interpreting and advocacy services for those whose first language is not English, and to start a madrasa. Regarding the latter, Zainab Smith explained: "It is a bit like a Sunday school in a Christian community, but with an added dimension. Children are taught the Qur’an and Arabic, and also to be of good moral standing and have correct attitudes. That means observing Islamic standards and, at the same time, being able to integrate with British society and get the best out of it". The Halaka group can be contacted by phoning Zainab Smith on 01343 814206, Shameen Mohammed on 01343 547544 or Tasleem Mohammed on 01343 813016 (Northern Scot, 12.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11]

 

 

Award for assaulted student

A Muslim university student was awarded £10,000 compensation after an industrial tribunal heard she had been sexually assaulted by the manager of the Eclipse Bar in the students union at the University of the West of England, where she had a part-time job. Another student who claimed that the manager, Bob Dedics, had sexually harassed her two weeks earlier was awarded £7,500. The victim alleges that, after closing time, Dedics plied her with drinks and then assaulted her. She said: "I was very drowsy and did not know what was happening. It is a serious thing for an Asian girl. At first I did not want to talk to anyone about this. I went to see the police to tell them what happened. They took down the details of what happened and looked at the possibility of a prosecution. I did not go through with it for my family but I felt very strongly about what happened and so came to this tribunal. I have not told my parents because I’m not sure how they would react. It’s very difficult for me being a Muslim. I’m not allowed to drink and my mum and dad don’t know that I drink. The fact that I was drunk is a serious offence". The chair of the tribunal, Colin Sara said: "This girl is a committed Muslim and that has made it more difficult for her to deal with this. She has felt herself unable to tell her parents about it" (Western Daily Press, 16.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11]

 

 

Equality article

A comment column in the Glasgow Evening Times (20.06.98) deals with the subject of school uniform in a Muslim girls’ school, presumably the school planned for Glasgow in the former Bellahouston Academy building (see BMMS for February, March, April and May 1998 and report in Education section of this BMMS). The journalist, Maureen Beattie, heard a radio interview with one of the governors and was concerned about his answer regarding the question of dress. She writes: "After attempting to avoid the question of dress-codes he [the governor] was forced to admit that, yes, when girl pupils reach puberty they will be required to wear the chador or the hijab to cover up. He was at great pains to point out that this had nothing to do with women being in any way inferior to men, but was concerned with the instruction in the Qur’an regarding modesty for both sexes. Is that why we see so many Moslem men walking around wearing voluminous black from head to foot? And if the wearing of the chador or the hijab is a matter of choice, as I keep hearing it is, then where’s the choice for these young girls?" [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11]

 

 

MP women’s meeting

Margaret Hodge MP and Councillor Jeanne Alexander attended a women-only meeting at the Muslim Community Centre in Tanner Street, Barking, to talk about their work as women politicians. The audience asked many questions. The president of the Barking Muslim Social and Cultural Society, Abdul Khokhar, said: "This was the first time Mrs Hodge had addressed an all-women group at our centre. The men welcomed her outside the gate, but took no part in the discussions. We would like to thank Councillor Hodge and Councillor Alexander for providing our ladies with a very interesting afternoon" (Barking & Dagenham Post, 24.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 11/12]

 

Preston assertiveness training

Muslim women in Preston can now undertake assertiveness training, provided by the Royal and Sun Alliance. This follows a request by the local Muslim Forum at a recent Business to Business briefing. The aim is to build the women’s confidence in both everyday and business situations (Leyland Citizen, 25.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Youth

Wembley trip

The organisers of a trip to Wembley for a group of Muslim boys from Nuneaton to see the England versus Saudi Arabia friendly football match have said that they envisage this as being the first of many sporting and leisure activities and events (see BMMS for May 1998). Farook Ali, secretary of the Nuneaton Muslim Welfare and Cultural Association, said: "We are offering lots of activities, including football, martial arts and swimming. It’s early days yet and we have a long way to go, but we want to ensure we can provide a range of activities for the children, and indeed the whole community in Nuneaton. The county council [Warwickshire] has helped a great deal and even though our funding is limited, we have big plans". The association is also looking for teachers to help set up tuition in English and Maths (Nuneaton, Bedworth, Atherstone Weekly Tribune, 28.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12]

 

Interfaith

Brondesbury service

The Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev Richard Chatres, recently held an interfaith service at the newly opened ecumenical church in Brondesbury, St Anne’s and St Andrew’s. The church is jointly run by Anglicans and the United Reform Church. Among the congregation was Yusuf Islam, representing Brent’s Muslim community. There were also representatives from Wembley’s orthodox Jewish community, Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais Brahma Kumaris, Jains and Sikhs. These all signed an ‘interfaith dialogue’ document (Wembley Observer, 28.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12]

 

 

Prize for Sir Sigmund

On 13 May, Sir Sigmund Sternberg, executive chair of the International Council for Christians and Jews and founder of the Three Faiths Forum, was presented the Templeton Prize by Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace for his interfaith work. Sir Sigmund has promised to use the £750,000 prize to help in his work of promoting better images of Islam and Muslims in the West. Sir Sigmund was born in 1921 in Hungary and made his fortune in metal, property development and computer software. Sir Sigmund told Q-News (01.06.98): "If Westerners want Muslims to be ‘brought into the fold’ and have a more tolerant attitude towards them, then they too must stop depicting them as fanatics. The vast majority of Muslims are decent, law-abiding people". He felt, however, that Muslims sometimes contributed to the problem: "...they fly of the handle too easily and ought to be more adept at dealing with the media". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12]

 

 

Civic call to prayer

For the first time ever in Bath, the Mayor’s Call to Prayer will be led by a Muslim. The multi-faith civic event will take place in the Guildhall in January and Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the Muslim College in London, has been chosen to lead the prayers and to give an address. The imam of the Bath Islamic Centre, Rashad Aazami, commented: "He is very welcome. We welcome the service and we welcome working with Christians. The Rev John Andrews, spokesperson for the diocese of Bath and Wells, also approved of the initiative. The Rev Ian Lewis, vicar of St Bartholomew’s Church, Oldfield Park, however, had a different point of view. He said: "The mayor needs to decide which religion he is going with. What different religions believe is mutually exclusive" (Bath Chronicle, 12.06.98). The leader writer in the Bath Chronicle (12.06.98) approved of the mayor’s plan. The article concludes: "Unfortunately not everyone will feel comfortable with this bold and exciting move. Nevertheless, the mayor is right to take into account faiths other than his own, particularly when regarding a faith that is shared by many millions across the world including a good number in the Bath area. To critics, the mayor’s move may sound like one of compromise and appeasement. But that attitude demonstrates exactly the lack of understanding that has led throughout the centuries - and continues to lead - to problems, conflicts and wars the world over". The Bath Star (18.06.98) reports that the mayor’s office has explained that the service will still include a strong Christian element [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12].

 

 

Methodist conference address

The Methodist Recorder (25.06.98) has reprinted the entire address to the Methodist Conference of the new president, the Rev Professor W Peter Stevens. The address speaks out strongly against abuses of human rights, in particular, against racism. He then continues: "If some suffer for their race (and it appears that as many as 200,000 may suffer from racially motivated attacks each year), others suffer for their religion, especially but not only Muslims. There are many reasons for this. One is the action of Muslim extremists, mostly abroad, but also in Britain…But to judge all Muslims by the way some Muslims have acted in Britain or abroad is to bear false witness. We have a duty as Christians to the truth, and that means not depicting Islam or Muslims in a false or exaggerated way, judging all Muslims by Iranian or Afghan terrorists. At the same time our duty to the truth means that we must encourage Muslims in Britain to repudiate violence committed in the name of Islam, as we would or should repudiate violence committed in the name of Christianity. Third, we have a duty of co-operation. Our society is in many ways godless and immoral. We should therefore work for the good of society with Jews and Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. We have – to take two examples – a common concern for human life and family life. In our common reverence for human life we should work with them for the sake of the unborn child to restrict what has become virtually abortion on demand and for the sake of the frail and elderly to prevent moves to voluntary euthanasia. Together let us work both to change attitudes and to change the law". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 12/13]

 

 

Halal

Slaughter controversy

In Essex, Kamal Siddiqui, chair of the Essex Islamic Trust, has written to the Romford Recorder (29.05.98) protesting about the prejudices of previous correspondents to the paper who have condemned halal slaughter, particularly that carried out for Eid-ul-Adha (see BMMS for April and May 1998). A letter making similar points from a Muslim reader was sent to the Blackburn Citizen (29.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

 

Supermarkets halal stock

Cleone Foods have persuaded Tesco’s in Wembley and fifteen other branches in the West Midlands, the West Country and Wales to stock their halal lamb and chicken patties. Various branches of Kwik Save and Asda are already stocking them (Q-News, 01.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

 

Mediterranean diet origins

Q-News (01.06.98) has an article on the Muslim Arab origins of much European cuisine. The author also points out: "But exotic foods and spices weren’t used simply according to the whims of chefs. Rather, the Muslim Arabs adopted the whole body of Greek medical knowledge, creating an entire culinary repertory around this. Classical antiquity’s approach to treating illness through food led to the dominance of ‘humours’ in eating patterns: the ancient Greeks ascribed specific natures to different foods, making them suitable for different temperaments. So foods were classified and used to balance the humours in man". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

 

Heathrow catering expansion

One of Britain’s largest halal catering firms, Abdela Airline Catering, has moved into larger premises at Central Way, Slough, in order to cope with increased demand for its products. Contracts to supply Malaysian Airlines and United Emirates Airlines are believed to form part of the new business the firm has attracted recently (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

Health

Nursing home problems

The ethnic minority health adviser in Ealing and Southall, Baljeet Rupra Shah, in a report presented to the Ealing Community Health Council, has claimed that Asian residents in nursing homes, amongst them Muslims, are not being cared for in ways appropriate to their cultural and religious needs. She claimed that staff are usually unable to speak the languages of their residents and do not understand about religious dietary needs. Several care workers told the Ealing & Acton Gazette (29.05.98) that they felt Ms Rurah Shah’s comments were out of date, as there was now a high proportion of Asian nursing and care staff working in homes in the area. Chris Gopaul, nursing manager at the Rainbow Lodge in Ealing, said he knew of several homes which specifically catered for Asian residents in the area. He said: "I think her comments would have been true 10 years ago but this is not the case any more". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

Employment

Factory prayer

Some workers at Fox’s biscuit factory in Batley have contacted Awaaz (01.06.98) to refute the claims of other Muslim workers that they are not allowed to pray whilst on factory premises (see BMMS for March and April 1998). Anwar Mulla, from Clerk Green, said: "I’ve been working at Fox’s Biscuits for the last ten years and I’ve been praying for the last five years on my break times with no problems. The senior management do know we pray on Fox’s premises, and I’m praying three salat every shift at least, and I’ve never had any problems at all. I have asked my friends at work and I haven’t spoken to anybody who has had problems. I don’t know where these stories are coming from. If I could not pray five times salat then I could not work at Fox’s, it would be haram for me to do so". [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

Compensation award

Abdul Haleem, formerly an employee at the Colwyn Road Islamic Pakistani Community Centre, has been awarded £3,910.42 as compensation for unfair dismissal. The figure would have been £6,517.36, but 40 per cent was deducted, as, at an earlier hearing, the industrial tribunal decided that Mr Haleem had contributed to the situation. However, the tribunal decided that the centre’s refusal to hear Mr Haleem’s appeal after the sacking was unfair. Abdul Haleem still works part-time as a schools liaison officer for Northamptonshire County Council. After the hearing, he commented: "I’m here for the principle involved, the money doesn’t interest me - but I am very happy at the award" (Northampton Chronicle & Echo, 17.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13]

 

 

Gloves dispute

Muslim workers have now returned to work after a dispute in a Middlesborough factory concerning the handling of pork. The firm, Muskaan, had been providing the workers, many of whom are Muslim, with gloves for handling pork, but then suddenly refused to. After negotiations which involved Zafar Iqbal, general secretary of the mosque in Waterloo Road, and the GMB union regional organiser Mike Parkinson, a compromise was reached. The workers were once more issued with gloves and the firm also agreed to make up the earnings lost during the stoppage (Middlesborough Evening Gazette, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 16]

 

 

Sheffield sexual discrimination

Shamsa Mughal brought a case of sexual discrimination against the Sheffield Pakistani Muslim Centre, claiming that she was not allowed the post of acting chief executive of the centre because of her sex. The case at Sheffield industrial tribunal was halted when the centre agreed to make a settlement with Ms Mughal, which was accepted. The centre later issued a statement saying: "Both parties have been mindful of the need to put the interests of the Centre first and to resolve the differences which this case has caused within the community. The terms of the agreement are confidential but the Centre has agreed that all Management Committee members and staff will receive equal opportunities training" (Barnsley Star, 24.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 13/14]

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor

Part of the New Cemetery in Bangor is to be set aside for Muslim burials (see BMMS for September 1997). There is room at the proposed site for 80 burials and Muslim leaders were satisfied with the plot. Ieuan Lewis, Gwynedd’s director of technical services, told councillors: "It is difficult to say exactly how much use would be made of the site, but it is expected that the site would be sufficient for about 15 to 20 years". Although Muslim leaders have agreed in principle to the council’s regulations, there may still be difficulties in ensuring that burials take place as quickly as Muslim tradition demands (Bangor & Caernarfon Chronicle, 11.06.98). Muslims had pointed out that the nearest Muslim cemetery is in Manchester, which is inconvenient (Liverpool Daily Post, 04.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Barking, Victoria Rd

Barking and Dagenham’s planning committee has deferred making a decision about a proposal to extend the mosque on the corner of Ilford Lane and Victoria Road. The main objections concerning Barking Muslim Association’s plans are about potential parking problems. A planning officers’ report states that already "attendance is some seven times higher than anticipated in 1985 for the Friday service" (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 18.06.98). In 1997, 548 penalty charge notices were issued to vehicles parked illegally near the mosque (Q-News, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Bedford, Commercial Rd

The police are attempting to act as mediators in a dispute over the leadership of the Bangladeshi Islamic Mission’s mosque in Commercial Road, Bedford. Faruk Choudhury claims he was elected president of the mosque last September, but Mohammed Ataurahman claims that, in a separate election, he was selected. Jay Alom, a worshipper at the mosque, said that the dispute was having a negative effect on the community: "In the past, we’ve always managed to sort out these disputes internally. On a Friday, you could expect the mosque to be full, but because of these incidents the place is nearly always empty" (Bedford Times & Citizen, 04.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Bradford, Darfield St

On 6 June at 12.30pm crowds gathered to watch the dome being placed on top of Bradford’s latest purpose-built mosque (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 06.06.98, 08.06.98, Bradford Star, 11.06.98). The Darfield Street mosque is the 14th to be built in Bradford by the Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam and will be amongst the largest in the city (see BMMS for February and April 1998). Liaqat Hussain, a mosque trustee, said: "There is tremendous excitement in the community. There were many doubts as to whether it would be built or not but now it is a reality. This is of cathedral proportions, a cathedral type of building for important occasions. It emphasises how the immigrant community, which arrived in the 1960s, has become a part of British society and it has firmly established itself in the community" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 08.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Bradford, Steadman Terr (Leeds Rd)

The committee of the Abu Bakr Mosque in Leeds Road have applied for planning permission to build a new mosque on council-owned waste land at Steadman Terrace in Bradford Moor (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 17.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Clitheroe, Holden St

Controversy continues around the plans for a mosque in Holden Street, Clitheroe (Clitheroe Advertiser, 28.05.98, Q-News, 01.06.98, Daily Jang, 10.06.98, Blackburn Lancs Evening Telegraph, Clitheroe Advertiser & Times, 11.06.98, Blackburn Lancs Evening Telegraph, 17.06.98). Objections to the conversion of the building into a mosque have come from at least one Muslim, as well as non-Muslims living nearby (see BMMS for May 1998). Mr Amin, a Muslim who lives next door to the proposed development, called it a "very unneighbourly development" and his solicitors claim that the increase in activity which "would result from the granting of planning permission would just completely destroy any quality of life that can exist at his next door home" (Daily Jang, 10.06.98). The June meeting of the Ribble Valley Council’s planning meeting on 17 of the month was packed out and protestors both for and against the mosque held demonstrations. Planning officers recommended refusal on the grounds of traffic and noise nuisance, but a decision has been postponed to allow a site visit, to a similar mosque outside the Ribble Valley to be made. The final decision will now be made on 16 July (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 17.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Gateshead burials

Gateshead Council plans to launch a pilot 24-hour call out service in order to facilitate Muslim burials as quickly as possible after the death has occurred. The scheme is estimated to cost the local authority £7,965 a year. If approved the pilot scheme will last a year in the first instance (Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01.07.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14]

 

 

Glodwick burials

Objections have been raised to the idea of a Muslim funeral parlour on Jarvis Street in Glodwick, Oldham. Some of the objectors are Muslim. Mohammed Ramzan, father of seven who lives on Jarvis Street said: "Two of my children have been knocked down on the street. There’s so much traffic it’s like the M62. It’s only a matter of time until someone is killed. I’m not against a funeral parlour, but this is the wrong place. The number of relatives coming to view the body will just make the traffic situation worse. When councillors came to visit the site their mini-bus couldn’t get through the road’s so narrow. They had to park on Latimer Street. I’m worried that if there’s an emergency the emergency services won’t be able to get through". He explained that the building had been used as a funeral parlour before: "It’s just too much. One night women were crying and wailing outside until 2am. I’m a milkman and have to get up at 4am and I couldn’t sleep. Coffins going past all day and all the crying and wailing will also have a psychological effect on the children. The people who are for this scheme don’t live on this street and wouldn’t be affected by it". The scheme’s proposer, Mohammed Yaseen, said: "It’s just people on this street who don’t want it. The Glodwick community as a whole are for it and think it’s a good idea. We hoped to resolve the matter by sitting round a table but the people on Jarvis Street have refused" (Oldham Advertiser, 25.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 14/15]

 

 

Halifax, Hopwood Lane

Planning consent has been granted for the construction of a mosque on a former factory site in Hopwood Lane, Halifax (see BMMS for February and April 1998). The access route, along Wallace Street, will be made one-way in order to reduce traffic congestion. Councillor Mohammed Najib (Labour, St John’s), supporting the plans, claimed that: "Many people using the mosque will be within walking distance and the traffic will be limited" (Halifax Evening Courier, 10.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15]

 

 

Hemel Hempstead, St Albans Hill

Muslims in Hemel Hempstead have raised £75,000 towards an extension for the mosque in Bennetts End. Architect and co-ordinator of the project, Arshad Nasiri, said that once started, the building work should only take three months to complete. He added: "It would be used on Fridays for religious purposes and for our two big festivals each year. At present we have to hire the Dacorum Pavilion because we don’t have enough room at the mosque" (Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 18.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15]

 

 

Kettering, Grassmere Rd

A petition has been organised by people opposed to plans to build a new mosque in Kettering (see BMMS for April and May 1998). One of the objectors, Norman Coles, said: "This is a residential area and there are very few parking spaces. Any type of meeting place in this area would create an impossible amount of traffic" (Q-News, 01.06.98). The initial application for planning permission was rejected by Kettering Council at the beginning of June. One of the councillors who originally voted against the proposals, Councillor Terry Freer, has now said he wants to cooperate with Kettering Muslim Association in finding a new site. He said: "There are plenty of empty churches in the town - one of them could be used as a mosque. I have offered to meet association representatives to discuss alternatives to find a suitable location. They need somewhere to go and we have to find somewhere for them. But first we need to sit down and look at exactly what they want, like size of building and car parking" (Kettering Evening Telegraph, 08.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15]

 

 

Luton burials

Prince Charles recently visited the Marsh Farm estate in Luton, an area that has benefited from the help of the Prince’s Trust in setting up small businesses. Among the local people the Prince met was Ghulam Kadib, who set up a Muslim funeral service with help from the Trust (see BMMS for March and April 1998). The young entrepreneur, winner of several prizes for his business success, said: "I went to the bank for a loan, but they told me I was too young to start up such a sensitive business. Then I went to the Prince’s trust, and they backed me all the way, with a grant and a £5,000 loan" (The Times, 19.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15]

 

 

Luton, Bury Park Rd

The management of the mosque in Bury Park Road is hoping to be granted planning permission in order to extend from numbers 21, 23 and 25 Bury park Road into the neighbouring house at number 27 (see BMMS for April 1998). The mosque has a mainly Bangladeshi congregation (Luton Leader, 18.06.98).

 

 

Luton, Westbourne Rd

Q-News (01.07.98) reports that Abdul Chisti and his supporters have failed to gain control of the management of Luton Central Mosque (see BMMS for May 1998). Mr Chisti was the first imam of the mosque when it opened many years ago. The mosque has experienced severe factional disputes in recent years and so an election, supervised by an outside, independent body was held.

 

 

Peterborough, Gladstone St

The Gladstone Street Mosque Committee is applying for permission to expand its mosque, which currently holds 150 worshippers, to a capacity of 400, plus other new facilities such as a mortuary. Councillor Raja Akhtar, a worshipper at the Gladstone Street Mosque, explained: "It’s very important for the local community. At the moment there is nowhere to teach the children Arabic and Urdu. We really wanted the look of a traditional mosque. If it goes ahead it is going to be very beautiful" (Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 09.06.98). Peterborough City Council has already received some formal objections to the expansion plans, which cite potential traffic problems as the main reason (Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 15.09.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15]

 

 

Reading, Hamilton Rd (Alexandra Rd)

Discussions are continuing between Muslims who worship at the Hamilton Road mosque, which recently gained planning permission for a new, purpose built mosque and local residents (see BMMS for January and February 1998). The mosque general secretary Bashir Chaudhri said: "We would really like a purpose-built mosque, just like Christians have purpose-built churches. A proper mosque could be a real asset to Reading". Local residents have expressed concern about the lack of consultation regarding plans and issues of traffic congestion. Councillor Christine Borgars responded: "Any mosque built near Hamilton Road would have to include on-site parking and there will be a chance for constructive discussion. I want another general meeting so residents can make clear their worries and can be better informed about what might be intended" (Reading Chronicle, 05.06.98). Members of the Sutton resident’s Association have been waiting for Councillor Christine Borgars to arrange a visit to the mosque. She said: "I haven’t got a date for the mosque visit yet but one will be arranged in the next few weeks. I will also be organising a meeting with residents in early July to discuss their questions" (South Oxfordshire Chronicle, 12.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 15/16]

 

 

Slough, Stoke Poges Lane & Navy club

Police are continuing their investigation into the arson attack on the temporary premises of a Slough mosque, at the former Slough Naval Club in Elliman Avenue (see BMMS for May 1998). The damage caused is estimated to be about £250,000 worth. A spokesperson for the local police said: "A lot of people have been affected by this crime because of the cost of the damage and the property involved" (Slough & Langley Observer, 29.05.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 16]

 

 

Stoke on Trent burials

After receiving clarification on the precise nature of a facility described as a "mortuary", Stoke-on-Trent councillors have given their approval to an extension at the Muslim community centre in Rathbone Street, Tunstall. Members of the city’s planning committee heard that bodies would only be washed and dressed on the premises and then transferred to an undertaker’s. The main objector, independent councillor Charles Wagner, withdrew his objections on learning this. In a letter to the planning committee, he said: "The reference to the word mortuary gave particular cause for concern, particularly in view of its proposed location. People envisaged storage of dead bodies and activities such as autopsies. Since then however, following further investigation, I have had the opportunity to converse with Asian community members. I have been better put in the picture as to the true nature and extent of the proposals" (The Sentinel, 20.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 16]

 

 

Wolverhampton, Waterloo Rd

The Jamia Mosque, currently being built in Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton (see BMMS for December 1997) has been granted planning permission to increase the height of its tower by three metres. Although there was some local opposition to the plan, Councillor Judith Rowley said: "The proposal will improve the gateway to the town" (Wolverhampton Chronicle, 12.06.98). [BMMS June 1998 Vol. VI, No. 6, p. 16]

 

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