British Muslims Monthly Survey for July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Mawlid AI-Nabi celebrations 

Edinburgh mosque 

Religious discrimination legislation 

Nation of Islam and Stephen Lawrence inquiry 

 

 

Reports

Community

Euthanasia protest 

Atia Idrees radio drama 

Millennium plans 

Northampton centre hearing 

Sheffield centre investigation 

Southall clash 

Mecca name controversy 

Nottingham exhibition to be annual 

Hamza Yusuf responses 

Rotherham mosque open day 

Mosque break-in 

Burton centre plans 

Middlesborough Historian

Blackburn Kokni centre plans 

Leader re-burial 

Wounded man found in mosque 

Hindu symbol complaint 

British Muslim identity

Blackburn Islamic Relief fun day 

East End communities 

Ahmadiyya meeting 

Heckmondwike centre opened 

Preston conference 

Burial article 

Doctor award 

Taxi driver praised 

Funeral stops cricket 

Website closure 

Murderer jailed 

Education

Classes bid 

Birmingham head teacher appointment 

No consent for school 

School Islam project 

Luton Islamic Experience 

Birmingham girls 'school plans 

Education centre plans 

Feversham funding 

Batley career fair 

Bishop supports Muslim state schools 

Coventry school fight 

School Ofsted failure 

BNP in Bradford debate 

High Wycombe centre reopens 

Politics

Nuclear testing

Birmingham Labour party

Kashmir demonstration

Luton accusations 

AI Muhajiroun acquittal 

Racism

Euro MPs report protest 

New forum launched 

Race conference 

Women

Female Kickboxer 

Forced marriages 

Culture change article 

Association funding problems 

Youth

Nuneaton funding success 

Interfaith

Bath service controversy 

Dorset meeting 

Jewish-Muslim forum launch 

Provost urges Muslim friendship 

Bishop talks of Islamophobia battle 

Halal

Slaughter article 

Wholesalers fire 

Health

Sex book endorsed 

Donor appeal 

Egg donation opinion 

 

Employment

Muslims in the army 

Compensation for workplace discrimination 

Mosque sacking 

Mosques & Burials

Barking, Victoria Rd 

Birmingham, Fosbrooke Rd 

Brighton, Bedford Place 

Burton, Parker St 

Burton, Princess St 

Clitheroe, Hoiden St 

Harrow, Station Rd 

Hemel Hempstead, St Albans Hill 

Hounslow burials 

Leicester 

London, Forest Gate 

London, North Kensington, Acklam Rd

London, Stratford, Abbey Mills 

Morden, London Rd 

Oldham, Clydesdale St 

Oldham, Shaw, Margaret St 

Redditch, Smailwood 

Rochdale, Lower Sheriff St 

Sheffield, Wolseley Rd 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust 

Warrington 

 

 

Features

Mawlid Al-Nabi Celebrations

Many local papers have reported on celebrations of the Prophet's Birthday, or Mawlid al-Nabi, in their localities. Most communities celebrated with a street procession held on the Sunday nearest the date in the Islamic lunar calendar, which this year was 7 July. However, the dates for celebrating varied considerably. At the Ghousia Mosque in Nelson, the organisers of the march were expecting crowds of between two to three thousand, as Muslims from other parts of Britain would be joining them (Barnoldswick & Earby Times, 26.06.98). Organiser and spokesperson for the Ghousia Mosque in Clayton Street, Mohammed Arif, said: "This is the fifth year we have held the march and we have more people here than last year" Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 06.07.98). In Bradford, there was a march through the Manningham district (Bradford Star, 02.07.98). In High Wycombe, speeches and special prayers marked the day on 7 July, but the march was scheduled for 12 July (Bucks Free Press, 03.07.98). In Coventry, Muslims had received permission for several roads in the Foleshill area of the city to be closed in the middle of the day on 5 July to allow the parade to take place (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 04.07.98). In Peterborough, Muslims held a week of celebratory events. Raza Hussein Rahim, a member of the city's Burton Street Mosque, said: "Just as Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, Muslims throughout the world remember the birthday of the Prophet and his contribution to Mankind and humanity this month" (Peterborough Evening Telegraph, 08.07.98). There were also reports of celebrations and processions in Leicester, Ashford in Kent, Keighley, High Wycombe, Manchester, Rotherham, Burnley, Burton-on-Trent, Derby, and Bolton. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 1]

 

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Edinburgh Mosque

A great many newspapers, especially the Scottish press, have reported on the opening of the new Central Mosque in Potterow, Edinburgh on 31 July by Prince Abdul Aziz bin Fahd Abdul Aziz al Saud, minister of state in the Saudi cabinet and son of King Fahd. The mosque is named after King Fahd, who provided over 90 per cent of the funding. The mosque has taken almost ten years to build, due to difficulties with fundraising before King Fahd stepped in to help. Mo Rizvi, secretary of the Mosque and Islamic Centre Trust of Edinburgh, said: "I came to Edinburgh more than 20 years ago and at that time we were using a rented flat in Nicholson Street. To see the mosque opened is a dream come true. It is hard to put into words what I feel, but there is obviously great pride and joy. There have been so many delays over the years and it has been frustrating at times - but it is worth the wait now to see the building opened" (Edinburgh Evening News, 31.07.98). Yusuf Islam, who was there for the opening, said: " It's wonderful. We're very happy that Islam is now being somewhat accepted in this country, and it's a marvellous feeling of hospitality from Scotland itself'. Mohammed Sarwar, Labour MP for Glasgow Govan, said: " It's a great day for Muslims in Scotland, who have made a tremendous contribution to the economy, and I believe now are making to the architecture of this great capital" (Scotsman, 01.08.98). Professor Yasir Suleiman, who is director of Islamic and Eastern Studies at Edinburgh University and worships at the mosque, said: "We would all like to express our delight and gratitude to King Fahd for this generous gift and gesture of confidence" (Glasgow Herald, 31.07.98). Dr Abdullah bin Abdulmohsen al-Turki, the Saudi minister for religious affairs, saw the mosque as the fulfilment of a long standing commitment. He explained that on his first visit to Edinburgh twenty years ago, he found the city's Muslims had no permanent place to meet and pray. He said: " From that time the ministers of the Saudi government took on themselves the responsibility of building a mosque in Edinburgh" (Scotsman, 31.07.98). The mosque cost almost £34 million to build and its architect, Dr Basil Bayati, has combined Scottish and Middle Eastern elements in the design (Scotsman, 31.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 1]

 

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Religious Discrimination Legislation

The Voice (29.06.98), Eastern Eye (03.07.98) and the Asian Times (07.07.98) all have articles on the amendment which the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has tabled to the Crime and Disorder Bill (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for January, March, May and June 1998). The Voice (29.06.98) explains that, in introducing the mention of religion to the concept of racially aggravated crime: "Mr Straw was responding to concerns expressed by members of the Muslim Council of Britain and organisations such as the Society of Black Lawyers and the Runnymede Trust, as well as up to 100 MPs". Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, welcomed the move. He said: "Although the question of religious discrimination and vilification needs to be addressed fully, the community feels greatly encouraged by the vision and leadership displayed for the first time by the government. We view this amendment as a small but significant step towards the economic, social and political inclusion of the Muslim community in national life" (The Voice, 29.06.98). However, Muslim News (17.07.98) reports Mr Sacranie as saying, when the amendment was carried: "We have won the battle, but the war has not yet been won". The Government-sponsored bill was debated in the House of Commons for the first time on 23 June. During the debate, the Conservative MP James Clappison, who was sponsoring an alternative amendment, said: "To attack people because they are wearing hijab or sporting a beard is every bit as evil as attacking people because they are black or brown ... The Home Secretary has said that, in his judgement, in many of the cases involving a religious motive, if not in almost all, there would also be a racial motive. I am not entirely convinced that that is true. It is necessary to go further and cover cases where there is an entirely religious motive and no racial motive". After the press conference at the launch of the Race Relations Forum (see the Report in the Racism section of this issue of BMMS ), Muslim News asked the Home Secretary why he had only gone halfway to dealing with religious harassment under the Crime and Disorder Bill. He replied: "We went as far as we could go in the current scale of the climate of the Crime and Disorder Bill, but of course I will continue discussion with the Muslim representatives about whether we can meet religious discrimination more widely. I was anxious to meet the concerns as far as I could within the confines of this Bill".  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 1/2]

 

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Nation of Islam and Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

Reporting continues on the disruption by the Nation of Islam (NOI) of the inquiry into the murder of the black London teenager Stephen Lawrence (see BMMS for June 1998); the renewing of the Home Secretary of the British Government's long-standing refusal to grant a visitor's visa to the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan (see BMMS for January, February and June 1998); and reactions to a television documentary on the Nation of Islam. The black newspaper, The Voice (06.07.98) condemned what it saw as an overreaction, perhaps motivated by racial prejudice, on the part of other British media reporting on the inquiry and the role played by the NOL They write: "The press ... spoke with a single voice. In almost every newspaper there were pictures of the Nation of Islam members, amid reports of how an extremist group had disrupted the proceedings. There were no pictures of Jamie Acourt [one of the five accused of the murder of Stephen Lawrence] blowing a kiss to bystanders on his way in, or of him spitting and egging them on, on his way out. The hate that was referred to was the 'Prophet of Hate', Louis Farrakhan. The obvious contempt, shown by their demeanour during the inquiry and on the surveillance video shown to the inquiry, that the suspects, especially Jamie Acourt, hold for this country, the Black community and for the inquiry went largely untold". Reviews of the television programme, BBC 1's Everyman on the NOI on 5 July, appeared in the Daily Telegraph (06.07.98), the Tablet (11.07.98), and in passing in Darcus Howe's article on the NOI for the New Statesman (10.07.98). The reviewers in the Daily Telegraph and the Tablet praised the programme for its thoroughness, but found its attempt to cover the whole history of the Black Muslim movement in the USA, with its many schisms and various tendencies, rather confusing. Newspapers covering Home Secretary Jack Straw's renewal of the banning order on Louis Farrakhan include: Glasgow Herald, Daily Record, Huddersfield Examiner, Manchester Evening News, Newcastle Journal (02.07.98), Jewish Telegraph (03.07.98), and the Birmingham Post (08.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 2]

 

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Reports

 

Community

Euthanasia Protest

The Lakeland Echo (30.06.98) has a report on the protest organised by the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) and attended by some members of the Association of Muslim Lawyers (AML) against the Mental Incapacity Bill, which they say would legalise euthanasia (see BMMS for June 1998). Opposition has also come from evangelical churches, the Roman Catholic church, sectors of the Anglican Church, the Chief Rabbi and Muslim groups, in addition to non-religious groups.  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 2]

Atia ldrees Radio Drama

A BBC Radio 4 drama has been made of the fight of Atia Idrees to stay in England in order to care for her elderly grandmother, a fight in which she was ultimately successful (see BMMS for April 1997). Ms Idrees, who is a part-time newsreader with Asian Sounds FM, reads extracts from the diaries she kept during her anti-deportation fight and was Present throughout the two days of recording the play. She said: "Although the actual experience of facing deportation was very much a nightmare, it was quite exciting doing the play. I've done a documentary for Channel Four but this is completely different. It was a very moving experience as well, seeing and hearing someone else playing the role of myself, because the actress Indira Varma really captures the pain. But all these things that have happened have made me really strong' (01dham Advertiser, 02.07.98). The play, written by Maya Choudhry, is in a mixture of Urdu and English and was broadcast on Wednesday 15 July on Radio 4 at 2.15pm (Q-News, 01.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 2/3]

Millennium Plans

The Maidenhead Advertiser (03.07.98) reports that leaders of the town's Muslim and Jewish communities affirmed their interest in making the millennium celebration multifaith (see BMMS for February and April 1998). Fazal Awan, chair of the local Islamic Trust, said: "Everybody lives in their own way with their own religion and nobody interferes with the other. So whenever one community has something special the others should participate because this brings closeness and brotherhood between people". Similarly, Jonathan Romain, rabbi of the Maidenhead synagogue, said: " It is primarily a Christian celebration but it's Christian in a modem Britain which is multifaith. Maidenhead exemplifies that because it is very much a multifaith town. We have Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Jews and Bahai. I don't want to barge in on a Christian party but it must not ignore our multifaith society". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3]

Northampton Centre Hearing

The Northampton Islamic Pakistani Community Centre, which had to pay Abdul Haleem, one of its former community development workers, almost £4000 in compensation for unfair dismissal is again in the news regarding an employment matter. Farida Sabri, a former administrative and care worker, is taking the centre to court, claiming that she was discriminated against on the grounds of her sex. She claims that, whilst she was expecting a baby, her hours of work were reduced without her consent and that, when she attempted to return to work after having, her baby, she was not allowed into her office. She said: " I suffered financially and personally. My hours and, in consequence my pay, was reduced while male colleagues benefited from the fact my hours were reduced. I was the only female employee and I was pregnant". Regarding her alleged treatment when she attempted to return to work, Ms Sabri said she felt " humiliated and threatened" (Northampton Chronicle, 15.07.98). During the industrial tribunal hearing in Bedford, the centre's president, Raja Usman, said there had been allegations of fraud and financial mismanagement at the centre, resulting in the bank freezing the centre's account pending investigations. He claimed that this was the reason why the centre could not continue to employ Ms Sabri after her maternity leave. Raja Usman said: " There was a letter sent to the [community centre's] bank stating that some fraudulent cheques had been signed". The tribunal continues (Northampton Chronicle, 16.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3]

 

 

Sheffield Centre Investigation

Sheffield Council has been carrying out an investigation into the running. of the city's Pakistan Muslim Centre (see BMMS for May 1998). The Barnsley Star (09.07.98) reports that in February 1997, two local MPs, Richard Cabourn and Clive Betts, called for an investigation into the finances of the centre, but audits did not reveal any irregularities. However, at the end of 1997, the centre failed an audit by the Training and Enterprise Council and more recently, a former female employee settled a sex discrimination case against the centre out of court. The minority Liberal Democrats on the council renewed their call for an independent report. This was rejected by the Labour majority, who have promised £68,000 to underwrite the organisation. This sum includes £10,000 as a settlement to Sharma Malik, the woman who won the sex discrimination case against the centre (Sheffield Star, 30.07.98, 31.07.98). In 31 July's editions of the Barnsley Star and the Sheffield Star, there are detailed accounts of the successes and failures of the centre. Both papers applaud the council's decision to -live the £68,000 in emergency aid to the centre and in editorials on 1 August say: "Sheffield Council is right not to ditch the Pakistan Muslim Centre in its hour of need ... That said the council must be more stringent in monitoring organisations that are handed large sums of public money who have little experience in managing if'. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3]

Southall Clash

On Saturday, 11 July at 2.30am there was a violent confrontation between a group of Muslim youths and a group of Sikh youths outside a disco at the Royale Leisure Centre, Park Royal, London (see BMMS for March, April and May 1998). Bottles were thrown and there were several head and facial injuries from kicks and punches in the skirmish which involved one group of about 20 people and the other of about twelve. A spokesperson for Ealing police said: "Whether it was planned or not, we don't know, but all the parties involved appeared to have been inside the club before the trouble started. Their clothes would tend to suggest the groups were of rival religious persuasions" (Ealing & Acton Gazette, 17.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3]

 

Mecca Name Controversy

Having been persuaded by Muslims to take down its Mecca sign from its premises in the centre of Luton (see BMMS for January, February and March 1998), the Rank organisation is now asking Luton Borough Council for permission to put up just such a sign at its Skimpot Road centre. The company claims it has been in discussion with Muslims about this and does not anticipate the problems which concerned the sign in Dunstable Road (Luton on Sunday, 12.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3]

Nottingham Exhibition to be Annual

Following the success of the Islamic Experience exhibition in Nottingham held this June, it is likely to become an annual event (see BMMS for June 1998). There were over 30,000 visitors. Mr Lawson, head of religious studies at Greenwood Dale School, one of those responsible for bringing the exhibition to the city, said that it had given people a valuable insight into Islamic culture (Q-News, 01.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 3/4]

Hamza Yusuf Responses

Considerable numbers of responses have been printed to Nadeern Azam's article on Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the imam of the Santa Clara Masjid, who was recently on a lecture tour of Europe (see BMMS for June 1998). These responses take the form of letters to the editor - the majority very critical of the tone of Nadeem Azam's article; a reprinted interview with Hamza Yusuf from Q-News, No. 186, October 1995; an article on Shaykh Hamza which praises his scholarship and ability to convey his material and condemns Nadeem Azam's article, by Dr Sayyid Reza Shah-Kazemi; and a disclaimer from the editor, Fuad Nahdi. He writes: "Dear readers, Peace be upon you all. At the best of times the process of producing any magazine is hazardous. Putting a 'Muslim' one together is one hell of a job. Besides the moral minefield we have to negotiate in each and every issue is the matter of resources. But this particular correspondence is about neither. Here we write an unconditional apology over our publication of the article in our issue no. 292: 'Hamza " Wacko Jacko" Yusuf hits town' [page 111. The article was written by Mr Nadeem Azam, a freelance contributor to Q-News. We would like it to be known that the article was published without - as is the normal procedure - being read by any of our senior permanent staff. We have no hesitation in stating that the piece would not have been published if it was read by any senior member of staff. We, like the vast majority of our readers, found Mr Azam's article reprehensible and dolorous. We are aware and saddened by the damage Mr Azam's delinquent outburst might have inflicted on the reputation of Q-News among some of our readers. We promise to do our outmost to ensure that such a mistake does not happen in the future.

In a separate note we have written to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf to forgive us..." [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Rotherham Mosque Open Day

An open day took place at Rotherham's Moorgate Mosque on 11 July. The event was organised by Councillor Naz Ahmed after traffic wardens had said they wanted to learn more about Islam and Muslims. Councillor Ahmed explained: " It's a chance for people to learn about another culture. Lots of the young children who come to the Mosque learn about different faiths and I visit churches and other places of worship myself. I think it's important. We have invited the traffic wardens and council officers along and if any other organisations or individuals are interested they are quite welcome". Traffic warden Christine Smith added: " We did have some problems with parking near mosques at busy times, so we thought it would be a good idea to find out more about the religion and culture. We hope it will help us understand what they have to do as part of their faith and become more aware of any problems" (Rotherham Advertiser, 26.06.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Mosque Break-in

Thieves broke into the Bangladeshi Mosque and Islamic Centre in Wednesbury Road, Walsall on 8 July and stole £300 from a collection box and did hundreds of pounds worth of damage. Kaisor Ali, president of the mosque association, said: " We have not had anything like this happen before" (Walsall Express & Star, 09.07.98, Eastern Eye, 31.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Burton Centre Plans

The Burton Muslim Mosque Committee has submitted a planning application to build a sports and community centre after being awarded £350,000 Lottery funding for this purpose (Burton Mail, 04.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Middlesborough Historian

The 1ndependent on Sunday (04.07.98) has a feature article on Arif Chauhan, who is a local historian focussing on his native Middlesborough. Paul Vallely, who wrote the article, wanted to meet Arif Chaulian after he had seen his book, Middlesborough in Old Photographs (published by Sutton Publishing, £8.99, all profits to the Cleveland and Teeside Local History Society). As a child, Arif was fascinated by history and collected old postcards. He wanted to become a history teacher, an ambition he realised, in spite of initially facing racial stereotyping and class prejudice at school. He now works for British Airways, which is a great advantage in furthering his postcard collecting, as he is often able to purchase rare specimens sent from the north of England to Britain's former colonies. Questioned by Paul Vallely about the subject of a multiple identity, lie said: " You can be proud of both. I feel more British inside than I am Asian. But I feel as happy to eat curry as dumplings and stew. I am proud to be both from Middlesborough and a Muslim. I don't drink alcohol but that's as much as seeing men coming out of the boozer dead drunk and urinating in the streets while their families had no money for food when I was a child, as it is from my religion. I wear Western clothes here but if I'm abroad in a hot sticky climate I'll wear an Imran Khan suit or a jellabah". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Blackburn Kokni Centre Plans

The Kokni Muslim Association in Blackburn has drawn up plans to convert a building in Newton Street into a community centre. The building would be used as a drop-in centre for the elderly and for wedding receptions (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 09.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4]

Leader Re-burial

The exhumation of the body of Mohammed Abdul Siddiqui from its temporary resting place in the Muslim Study Centre in Stoney Stanton Road, Coventry, took place on 12 July. Following Home Office approval, the body has now been reburied in a specially constructed mausoleum at the Hijaz College, near Hinckley in Leicestershire. Thousands of Muslims came to escort the body in a ten-mile procession from the Muslim Study Centre to Hijaz College. Councillor Shabbir Ahmed (Conservative, St Michaels) said: " His entire life was devoted to the educational needs of millions of Muslims in Europe. It was a big event for Muslims. In Hinckley, thousands and thousands of people were there". He added: "The trend is to take the deceased's body back to the origin of birth which in his case would have been Pakistan. But his own wish was that he was buried in the UK. It was only temporary, him being in Coventry, while the land was purchased in Hinckley and while planning approval was sought from the Leicestershire authorities. His shrine is going to be based in Hijaz College and we are expecting thousands of people to turn out to visit it in the near future. It is the only Islamic shrine in the UW' (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 13.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 4/5]

Wounded Man Found in Mosque

A missing man, Mubarak Musa Patel, was found seriously injured in Millham Mosque, Blackburn, shortly after a pool of blood was discovered in the nearby factory where he had worked until a year ago, the Global Denim factory in Randall Street. Worshippers at the mosque discovered him when they came for prayers. One of the worshippers said: "We had been upstairs for around 30 minutes and when we came back downstairs we found him lying on the floor. He was in a very bad way and he looked like he had been badly beaten up and he had not eaten for several days. There was a cut on his wrist and his eyes were wide open and staring into space, he looked like he was unconscious". Mr Patel was found just hours after he was reported as a missing person and he was identified from a photograph in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. Acting Detective Superintendent Paul Buschini said: "We are relieved to find him alive and are now waiting to speak to him. He is very disturbed at the moment but spent a comfortable night in hospital" (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 15.07.98) [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

Hindu symbol complaint

Muslims have warned that crates decorated with " swastika like" symbols planned for the llford Hindu Centre could inflame communal and racial tension in the area. A recent meeting of llford Council's planning meeting was packed with members of the public. After an hour-long debate, the decision on the gates and other proposed chancres at the temple was deferred for further consideration. Ghazanser Ali, of the I1ford Muslim Centre, whose premises are very close to the Hindu temple, said the gates proposal was provocative. He told the I1ford Recorder (16.07.98): " A single incident might ignite tension. And a small minority may take the opportunity to spoil the good relations that exist in the ethnic community in the borough". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

British Muslim Identity

Muslim News (17.07.98) has an editorial article on the subject of British Muslim identity. A large part of the article deals with the need for legislation to protect Muslims as a religious minority from discrimination and harassment. It also touches on the matter of a question on religion in the next Census. Here Muslim News quotes a briefing paper to the Home Secretary from the Muslim Council of Britain: "British Muslims, in particular British born Muslims, identify themselves on the basis of faith rather than ethnicity or national origin ... The allocation of resources and the monitoring of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity alone is therefore no longer adequate ... Without a religious affiliation question, the 2001 census will lose a valuable data collection opportunity". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

Blackburn Islamic Relief Fun Day

The Blackburn Islamic Relief Fun Day took place at the end of July in Witton Park (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 17.07.98, 24.07.98). One of the events was a football tournament, with the Blackburn Muslim United Club, the Handy Hire Football Club, and the Dean and Derby Football Club, amongst others, taking part-(Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 24.07.98). The funds raised were for the Orphans Programme Worldwide. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

East End Communities

The Financial Times (18.07.98) has an article on the Bangladeshi community in London's East End by Adam Hopkins. The article firstly traces Bangladeshi immigration to the area, pointing out the similarities with other communities, such as the Jews. The writer then discusses British Bengali successes in business, the arts, and education. There is also a mention of the negative side of life for many, including Bangladeshis, in London's East End, particularly poor housing and drug abuse. The article concludes with a mention of the renewal of Islam, particularly amongst young people in the area and that this may provide a way for many to avoid social deviance and to succeed materially. He concludes with a quote from Lesley Cornell Walsh, who manages the Naz Cafe for businessman Muinkin Ahmed: " I see a great similarity to the Jews with their up and onwards movement. It may take longer but the pattern is starting to repeat itself'. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

Ahmadiyya Meeting

On 2 August the Ahmadiyya Muslims held their annual world-wide gathering in Tilford, Surrey (Asian Age, Coulsdon & Purley Advertiser, 24.07.98, Kent Today, 29.07.98, Watford Free Observer, 30.07.98). The gathering usually attracts over 15,000 people (Kent Today, 29.07.98). The Ahmadiyya movement planned to broadcast the gathering, on their own satellite channel, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya (Asian Age, 24.07.98, Watford Free Observer, 30.07.98). One of the subjects of the televised discussions will be the persecution suffered by the Ahmadiyya under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5]

Heckmondwike Centre Opened

The official opening of Heckmondwike's Pakistan Muslim Welfare Society's (PMWS) drop-in centre for the elderly recently took place. Among those at the ceremony were the mayor of Kirlees, Councillor Mike Bower, members of the PMWS and members of Routeways to Success. Routeways to Success helped to fund the Barnardo's project, who are next door and are also involved in the Muslim community project. Amer Bhatti, manager of the new centre, said: " The first phase is the elders' drop-in centre, but over the next few months we should go from strength to strength" (Spenborough Guardian, 24.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 5/6]

Preston Conference

The Sunni Dawat-e-Islami organisation was due to hold its annual gathering at the Noor Hall in Noor Street, Preston on 5 August. Thousands of members of this Islamic organisation, from all over the world , were expected to attend. The leader of the organisation, Moulana Shakir Rizvi, who is based in Bombay, said: " Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world attend these religious functions in India to learn about Islam. With the demand from British Muslims we are now holding our third international conference in England. It is important that one attends this conference to learn about Islam and to become a good Muslim. I would sincerely like to invite everyone to this prestigious conference to learn the great sunnats of the Holy Prophet' (Lancashire Evening Post, 28.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

Burial Article

The Daily Telegraph (28.07.98) has an article on the funeral traditions of the different Asian communities living in Britain. Regarding Muslims it says: "Both Muslim and Jewish funeral law requires bodies to be buried quickly, normally within 24 hours. The body of a Muslim is wrapped in a white garment and buried with the head facing Mecca. If the deceased had made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the white garment worn on the pilgrimage is used. Only male friends and family attend the funeral service". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

Doctor Award

A Muslim doctor from Waisgrave Hospital in Coventry has won an award in recognition of his work from the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, and a certificate from the Muslim Doctors and Dentists Association. Dr Ahmad Chaudhry presented his research on the contributions of the history of Islamic medicine to healthcare today at an event organised by the International Institute of Islamic Medicine held in Birmingham in June. Dr Chaudhry, a cardiologist, said that much of the knowledge of Muslim scholars regarding medicine had been lost: "They used to have all the things we're seeing, now. If we'd taken from there we would be much further forward than we are today" (Rugby Telegraph, 30.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

Taxi Driver Praised

Q-News (01.08.98) reports that a taxi driver in High Wycombe, Ijaz Rashid, spent two months tracking down a passenger to return the wallet containing £360 which he had left in his taxi. The passenger, Robert James, offered Mr Rashid a £100 reward for his honesty, which the latter declined, saying: " I would rather you gave it to a charity because my reward will come from Allah". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

Funeral Stops Cricket

The Yorkshire Evening Post (01.08.98) reports that a cricket match between Highgate and Warwick, part of the Dewsbury and District League, stopped for half an hour as more than 50 people crossed the field as part of a Muslim funeral procession. Fred Tolson, president of the Dewsbury and district Cricket League said: "I've been in cricket over 60 years and I've never seen anything like this". The funeral procession was on its way to a mosque in Savile Town. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

 

Website Closure

The internet provider America Online (AOL) has closed down a website that carried material likely to be offensive to Muslims. Scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo protested about the website and its parodies of Qur'anic verses after being bombarded by ordinary Muslims worldwide, including many in Britain, with faxes and telephone calls urging them to act against the website. Spokesperson for AOL, Tricia Primrose, said: " We have removed that page. Our terms of service are very clear on what we call appropriate content, such as content which is defamatory in nature. This page had that. It was particularly targeting Islam" (Q-News, 01.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

 

Murderer Jailed

The murderer of Munir Ahmed, a businessman who owned residential properties in the north-east of England, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. Christopher Larsen, an unemployed nurse aged 3 ) 1, gave no explanation as to why he had killed Mr Ahmed, who was his landlord and, on the day in question, had gone round to his flat to carry out some repairs. Larsen was convicted mainly on forensic evidence. He had smashed Mr Ahmed's skull with a shovel and a mallet and then strangled him with a telephone cord. After the trial, the police officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Plimmer, commented: "Obviously nobody will know for certain why this killing happened. Larsen hasn't proffered an explanation. But the jury have convicted him on the clearest of evidence. The circumstances, the forensic evidence, the assessment of the scene leads us to conclude that Mr Ahmed - a peaceful, quiet, respectable businessman who had patently been doing all he could to help Larsen settle into this flat - was viciously attacked by him using no less than four weapons. It must have been a sustained attack and a calculated series of actions for him to conceal the body in the way he did". Councillor Zafar Khan, president of the Newcastle Mosque where Munir Ahmed's funeral was held, said: The whole community was shocked and numbed. Mr Ahmed was a wonderful guy - very religious, very family orientated. He never had an argument with any member of the Muslim community. When I first heard about his disappearance I wondered what had happened as did the whole community. We could not believe he had-disappeared when he was supposed to be gone only an hour. All the ethnic minority community were stunned that this could happen to such a nice guy" (Newcastle Journal, 14.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 6]

 

Education

Classes Bid

The International Khatme Nabuwat Movement are asking Newham Council for permission to hold after-school and weekend classes of religious education in St George's Road, Forest Gate (City of London Recorder, 03.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Birmingham Head Teacher Appointment

Eastern Eye (03.07.98) and Q-News (01.08.98) both have reports that Israr Khan is to become the head teacher of a new Muslim school in Small Heath, Birmingham, to be called Hamd House Preparatory School (see BMMS for June 1998). Mr Khan was the teacher at Washwood Heath Secondary School in Birmingham who denounced Muslim pupils singing carols at the school's Christmas concert (see BMMS for December 1996, January 1997 and June 1998). He told Eastern Eye (03 ).07.98): "The incident involving the carol singing is all in the past and had nothing to do with my decision to become headmaster of a Muslim school". Mr Khan explained to Q-News (01.08.98) that an important function of the school would be to prepare the children for entrance to Birmingham's selective schools: "We will be focussing on getting Muslim children into grammar schools to address their under-representation ... around 25 percent of children in Birmingham are Muslim but only a small number are in grammar schools".  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

No Consent for School

The Woking Review (04.07.98) reports that a local shia madrasa has been given notice by the council's planning sub-committee that it must close, as it was operating without planning permission. The school, held in residential property on Walton Road, provided religious education for around 35 children for one hour daily. Complaints had been received from local residents about noise disturbance and litter.  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

School Islam project

The Muslim Women's Group in Chatham recently helped the Fort Pitt Grammar School for Girls to hold a "Day of Islam", which studied the way of life in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. This was as part of the Year Eight religion and history syllabus. A popular activity was decorating hands and feet with henna. Teacher Ambereen Khan said: "The girls couldn't wait to go home to show their parents their decorated hands and feet. The whole purpose of the day was to help them understand the variety of Islamic cultures which they wouldn't experience by reading a textbook" (Medway Standard, 07.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Luton Islamic Experience

Luton Council's education and leisure departments and the London-based producers of the Islamic Experience Exhibition recently co-operated to display the exhibition, which is primarily aimed at school pupils and students. The aim of the organisers is to promote a greater knowledge and understanding of Islam (Luton News, 01.07.98, 08 .07.98, Dunstable Herald & Post, 16.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Birmingham Girls' School Plans

Jean Hattat, head teacher at Lordswood Girls' School, has responded angrily to suggestions in the report of Birmingham's independent Secondary Education Commission that the intake at other girls' schools will have to be cut when Park View School in Washwood Heath becomes girls' only (see BMMS for May 1998). The recommendation to make Park View single sex came after demands from the predominately Muslim local community. Ms Hattat said: " There is no way they will be allowed to tinker with this school. We are 100 per cent over-subscribed. Maybe there are girls' schools out there who would be prepared to become co-educational in exchange for additional facilities" (Birmingham Evening Mail, 08.08.98, Birmingham Post, 09.08.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Education Centre Plans

The Islamic Centre in Selwyn Road, Upton Park, London has applied for planning permission for an extension to its premises to provide more teaching space at its madrasa (City of London Recorder, 10.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Feversham Funding

Feversham College in Bradford appears to be nearer to being granted state funding (see BMMS for June 1998). The school is proposing to become a secondary school able to take students up to age 18 and to move to a new site. A public consultation meeting was held on 15 July and the next stage in the process is that the application goes to the Education Minister, David Blunkett. Bradford's assistant director of education, Dennis Williams, said at the meeting: "The Bradford schools review has given Feversham the opportunity for a new future on a new site. The council is confident that the changes to your school, and others, will be approved by David Blunkett. I encourage you to support these proposals (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 16.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Batley Career Fair

The Indian Muslim Welfare Society recently held a careers fair at their newly refurbished Al-Hikmah Centre in Hyrstlands Road, Kirklees. One aim of the day was to show parents from local ethnic minority communities the range of opportunities for school-leavers, particularly vocational training and apprenticeships (Batley News, 23.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7]

 

Bishop Supports Muslim State Schools

Speaking in advance of the Lambeth Conference presentation on Christian Muslim relations, the bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir Ali, gave his support to state funding for Muslim schools. The Bishop, who was born into a Shia Muslim family in Karachi, Pakistan, said: " What I want to say is that people of all faiths should be committed to fundamental religious freedoms, including religious freedoms, wherever they are. Here, I would certainly support the freedom for Muslims to educate in their own way -and I would hope Muslims would do the same thing for Christians elsewhere" (Independent on Sunday, 26.07.98, Kent Today, 28.07.98, Church Times, 31.07.98).  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 7/8]

 

Coventry School Fight

Q-News (01.08.98) reports that Muslims are continuing their fight in Coventry to persuade the council not to close the Paradise Muslim School (see BMMS for March, April, May and June 1998), or at least to help the school's trustees to find more suitable premises.  [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

School Ofsted Failure

The Madinutul Uloom AI Islamiya School, an independent boys' boarding school near Kidderminster, Worcestershire has failed its inspection by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and will now have its registration revoked (Asian Age, 01.08.98, Birmingham Evening Mail, 03.08.98). The inspectors' report acknowledged that the standard of education in Islamic Studies and Urdu was good but concluded that English, Maths and Science needed to be improved before the school could be registered and that there were health and safety concerns. The new head teacher, Ahmed Patas, said: "The main concerns were to National Curriculum subjects and lack of resources. But this is a charity-run school so funding is very limited" (Birmingham Evening Mail, 03.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

BNP in Bradford Debate

Members of the racist British National Party (BNP) have come up from their base in Kent and been leafleting homes in Bradford, claiming that Asian Muslims are behind proposal to abolish middle schools in the city because they are opposed to Christian morning assemblies. Campaigners on both sides of the reorganisation issue have condemned the leaflet. Councillor Flood and Chris Malone, convenor of middle school heads, issued a statement saying: "The schools review is not a bandwagon for distant political interests to clamber aboard and advertise their wares. However, genuine contributions to the process will continue to be welcome" (The Big Issue in the North, 20.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

High Wycombe Centre Re-opens

Raja Amir Dad Khan reports in his regular column in the Bucks Free Press (26.06.98) that the building belonging to the Islamic Mission and Mosque Trust in Totteridge Road, High Wycombe, is now repaired and redecorated. Classes in religious education will start immediately and an event to mark the opening of the centre is planned for the future. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

Politics

Nuclear Testing

Two MPs from Bury were amongst the participants at a seminar on the effects of the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan on the general political situation in the region (see BMMS for May and June 1998). As well as MPs and MEPs from various parts of Britain, David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, and Ivan Lewis, MP for Bury South, attended the seminar in London, which was organised by the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference. One of the three discussion workshops was chaired by Dr Mohammed Salim, chair of Bury Racial Equality Council and president of the Muslim Conference North West Region. He said: " The participants of these discussion groups unanimously agreed that effective movement should start to attract the attention of the media. 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' (Prestwich & Whitefteld Guide, 26.06.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

Birmingham Labour Party

Raghib Ahsan, a former Birmingham Sparkhill ward councillor has won the right to take the Labour Party to a full industrial tribunal to pursue his case of racial discrimination (see BMMS for March 1998). Mr Ahsan claims that potential ethnic minority election candidates were made to go through a different selection process to whites. Other disaffected Labour Party members in the area, largely of Kashmiri Muslim origin, have accused the party in the Midlands of "colonialism and bullying". These allegations were made against the party's regional director, Fiona Gordon, at a meeting she chaired in early July, which ended in disorder and the police were called. Spokesperson for the Kashmiris who are unhappy with the management of party affairs in Birmingham but are still party members, Dilpazir Khan, said: "The subjective, partial and unconstitutional acts of Fiona Gordon, which caused these skirmishes and clashes, should not allow the democratic rights of the members to be taken away, and we reject the idea of postal elections as it unfairly proportions the 'problem' on the members, which would be a distortion of the truth. If we are not allowed to have a new AGM it will show Ms Gordon can bully, humiliate and behave in a colonial manner" (Birmingham Post, 22.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

Kashmir Demonstration

Police were called to a demonstration outside the Islamic Centre in Plumstead Road, Woolwich on 12 June as it obstructed the pavement. Around 60 demonstrators gathered outside the mosque at prayer time, protesting about the continued Indian occupation of Kashmir. The demonstration was organised by the Kashmir Support Council. A spokesperson for Plumstead police said: " We are monitoring the situation and will try to prevent any public disorder' (Greenwich Borough Mercury, 25.06.98, Q-News, 01.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8]

 

Luton Accusations

Mobeen Qureshi, a former social worker who now runs the Khidmat advice project in Bury Park, Luton, has accused Asian councillors of being the puppets of Roy Davis, Luton's council leader. Mr Qureshi maintains that such a relationship is to the detriment of the Asian community, particularly vulnerable sectors like the elderly and the poor. He told Luton on Sunday (05.07.98): " Our own elected councillors do not know about their own communities. They are just looking for chairmanships. They are like poodles to the council leadership. They are Roy Davis' puppets". He is particularly critical of Asian Councillors' failure to challenge the local Labour leadership over the closure of Bury Park Library and repeated refusals of a grant for the Khidmat project. Regarding the latter, he said: " What the council should realise is that 90 per cent of our work crosses over with council business. We are effectively doing their job, but are getting nothing in the form of grants". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 8/9]

 

AI Muhajiroun Acquittal

The Jewish Chronicle (31.07.98) reports that three supporters of Al-Muhajiroun have been found not guilty of public order offences following a demonstration protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestine in January held at Speakers' Corner, Hyde Park. Acquitting Abdul Saleem, a civil servant from llford, Uzinan Ali and Anjem Choudhary, a solicitor from Beckton, Horseferry Road magistrate Geoffrey Breen said: " If I take the view that this demonstration was directed against the state of Israel, the Israeli regime, then it seems to me a nation state can't be insulted and can't be abused. Mr Saleem admitted burning the Israeli flag. He said: "I admit that quite proudly". He also admitted chanting "destroy Israel", but when the allegation that he said "Kill Israel" was put to him, he responded: " I've been to school and college. Israel is a state. 'Kill' is used towards individuals". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 9]

 

Racism

Euro MPs Report Protest

MEPs from many constituencies in Britain told their local press of their disquiet at a recent report presented to the European Parliament, which appeared to brand Muslims as terrorists and extremists. The MEPs, in conjunction with their Socialist colleagues and others in Europe, were successful in having the report rejected by 305 votes to 158. The objectors are reported to have included Mel Read, whose constituency covers Nottingham and parts of Leicestershire (Nuneaton Heartland Evening News, 16.07.98, Nottingham Evening Post, 18.07.98; Nottingham & Long Eaton Topper, 22.07.98); Sue Waddington whose constituency includes Leicester (Leicester Mercury, 16.07.98, Leicester Mail, 23.07.98); Mark Hendrick for Central Lancashire, who is Britain's only black MEP (Burnley Citizen, 16.07.98, Lancashire Evening Post, 17.07.98, Colne Times, 24.07.98); Tyne and Wear MEP Alan Donnelly (Sunderland Echo, 18.07.98, South Shields Gazette, 28.07.98); the MEP for South Wales, David Morris (South Wales Evening Post, 20.07.98); Gary Titley, MEP for the area around Bury (Radcliffe Times, 23.07.98, Bury Journal, 29.07.98); Eryl McNally, who represents Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes and Luton (Milton Keynes Citizen, 23.07.98, Luton Herald & Post, 23.07.98); Michael Elliott, MEP for London West (Hounslow Borough Chronicle, 23.07.98, Brentford, Chiswick & Isleworth Times, 24.07.98), and the MEP for Hertfordshire, Dr Peter Truscott (Watford Observer, 24.07.98). Most of the objectors felt as Sue Waddington MEP did, that the EU should look to the far right and the growth of groups like the National Front in France as being one of the greatest threats to peace within Europe. She said: "This report implied that Muslims in Leicester and the rest of Britain and Europe were potential terrorists. This report was supposed to address the dangers of fundamentalism but concentrates almost exclusively on Islam - and makes unsubstantiated claims about violence by EU Muslims inspired by religious fundamentalism. This report tried to perpetuate the myth about a law-abiding community. I am very pleased to have played a part in defeating if' (Leicester Mail, 23.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 9]

 

New Forum Launched

Muslim News (17.07.98) carries a report on a new Race Relations Forum (RRF) which has been set up by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to provide a channel of communication between minority ethnic communities and the Government. Jack Straw outlined his initial strategy: "I and my ministerial colleagues will take advantage of our visits around the country to seek out views on what the future shape of legal protection from discrimination should be". At the launch, Mr Straw was challenged to answer the criticism that the RRF could not be effective because it will only meet three times a year. He replied: " If there's a greater demand for more meetings then we'll chair them. It's a series of exercises, not engagements. It's not just there to make the government look good". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 9]

 

Race Conference

Sameera Mian, research student at Manchester University and Muslim News' correspondent on community relations, recently attended a conference on " Europe against Racism" in Manchester. At the press conference on the first day, Mike O'Brian, Under Secretary of State for Immigration and Nationality, was asked how the increase in religious discrimination was to be tackled within the European framework. He replied: "...we are very concerned about this [however] we do think that many of the areas where Muslims are being discriminated against are in any event covered under the race discrimination act (Muslim News, 17.07.98). In her article, Ms Mian points out the irony that, whilst the Government talks about the need for more research and evaluation, Britain is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which, if integrated with UK law, would give Muslims more protection than they currently enjoy. Amongst organisations represented at the Manchester conference who are working at the European level to monitor and study racism and discrimination was the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia based in Vienna. The Centre aims to publish its reports and details of on-going work on the Internet [no address given]. Ms Mian concluded her article: "All said, a European conference cannot really change the heart; but something else can. Faith. Throughout the conference I kept thinking of the quote my brother recently sent me: 'I don't believe in any form of racism whatever. I am not a racist. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I BELIEVE IN ISLAM. (Haji Malik Al-Shabbaz [Malcolm X])". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 9]

 

Women

Female Kickboxer

The discussion as to whether Muslim women should participate in martial arts continues (see BMMS for June 1998). Concerning Thai-kickboxer Ameena Mohammed, Dr Zaki Badawi of the Muslim College in London said: "Tell her to stop immediately. She will make the hijab look ridiculous". Ameena Mohammed replied: " When it comes to women it is always a 'no' or a question mark. Nobody complains about Muslim male footballers, swimmers, wrestlers, etc. not being dressed appropriately. But they are the first to shout and rave as soon as a woman decides to do something ... The Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) encouraged archery, swimming and horse-riding in an undisputed hadith. Yet you tell me of one Muslim organisation that has made the facilitation of any of these possible to our community? At the end of the day Muslim women up and down the country have to make daily decisions between lesser evils. We will only get better if our choices are made more varied and relevant. And this only the men can do for they have the power. In conclusion, to be honest, in the matter of martial arts and physical fitness Muslim women would always have problems because our men cannot appreciate the matter. If they did, how can one explain their state of health?" (Q-News, 01.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 10]

 

Forced Marriages

Following articles in the Independent (20.07.98) on arranged marriages, often amongst Pakistani Muslims, in which the woman has been coerced into marrying the man, there were a series of responses, both in the Independent itself in the form of articles and letters to the editor (21.07.98, 22.07.98, 23.07.98, 25.07.98, 24.07.98) and in local papers (Yorkshire Post, 21.07.98, Edinburgh Evening News, 20.07.98). The original Independent articles argue that, partly because of the abolition of the "primary purpose" rule, under which spouses and fiancés had to show that the marriage had not been primarily entered into for the purpose of immigration, the number of marriages where a British Muslim woman of Pakistani origin is being forced into marrying a man from Pakistan against her will, is increasing. Other factors, such as young women increasingly wanting to make their own choice of partner, are also contributing to the increase. In one of the Independent articles of 20 July, under the heading "Culture is no excuse for kidnapping", the author recommends: "We should be sensitive to cultural differences, but violence, coercive sex and kidnapping are always wrong. Liz Symons, the Foreign Office minister, draws a distinction between 'forced' and 'arranged' marriages in response to our report today. But the whole problem is that of coercion and she should say clearly that both partners in a marriage should take part on the basis of informed consent, which is perfectly compatible with some element of parental arrangement". Akbar Dad Khan, a member of the executive committee of the Luton Central Mosque, writing in the Independent's "Right to Reply" column (22.07.98), argues that the initial articles on the subject were biased and gave the issue too much prominence. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 10]

 

Culture Change Article

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has an article in the Independent (17.07.98) in which she argues that British courts need to be more aware of the lack of freedom of many Asian women. She comments on two cases: that of Manjit Katir, whose husband killed her lover and then forced her to help him dispose of the body, and Zoora Shah, whose recent appeal against her conviction for poisoning her lover with arsenic failed (see BMMS for March and April 1998). She writes: "Even I find it shocking that obviously traditional women such as Manjit and Zoora were caught up in such sordid lifestyles. What I can understand, though, is how it can happen and how little choice they had. All our myths, religious texts, popular songs and films - the most important determinants of culture - tell us that we are but on loan to our own families and that the role of our parents is to hand us over to our husbands and [their] families who will thereafter control us. We are never to be free agents. Little wonder there is so much time set aside for weeping at our weddings". She points out that Indian women played an important role in the struggle for independence: " And yet, 50 years on, far too many Asian women remain without even a sense of free will. This, ironically, is even more true of British Asian women than of middle-class Indian and Pakistani women. People from the diaspora often become more stubbornly conservative than those who have never left their countries". She concludes: " It is imperative that those running institutions - especially key ones such as the courts - should acquire a deeper awareness about Asian women in this country without resorting to stereotypes. In the case of Manjit this clearly did happen. But in cases such as Zoora's, the blindness and deafness of justice are surely indefensible". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 10]

 

Association Funding Problems

The Muslim Women's Association in Shepherd's Bush has been forced to stop its activities for women and children because its only source of income, a £4,000 annual grant from the local council has been cut. Hammersmith Council say this is because the financial records of the women's group were inadequate and that the group's services were underused. Founder member Mussarrat Aftab told the Fulham & Hammersmith Chronicle (23.07.98): "We are like the social services for the Asian community. All the Muslim sisters come here and we teach them skills so they can get jobs. We run sewing and child-minding classes and we find houses and jobs for abused women who leave their husbands". A council spokesperson said the council were trying to help the group: "We are giving them help on establishing a working management committee and showing them how to bid for money from other sources, such as the National Lottery". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 10]

 

Youth

Nuneaton Funding Success

Young Muslims in Nuneaton have held a canoeing event, one of several recent activities which a grant from Warwickshire County Council's community development fund has made possible. The grant of £3,585 was made for youth activities to the town's Muslim Association. Rarook Ali, the association's youth secretary, said: "This gives the youth of the Muslim community the opportunity to develop various activities which they would not normally be able to do. We would like to thank Warwickshire County Council for its support. It is very much appreciated by the young people in the community" (Nuneaton Evening Telegraph, Nuneaton Evening News, 03.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Interfaith

Bath Service Controversy

The Mayor of Bath, Councillor Ray Cliffe, has received some criticism for his decision to involve Muslims in the annual Mayor's Call to Prayer (see BMMS for June 1998). Speaking to the Bath Advertiser (03.07.98) he reaffirmed his intention: " I have no plans to change my mind about the service and the majority of people I have spoken to, including church leaders, are supporting me. Dr Badawi will not be leading the service as some people seem to think, but will be part of it. I believe that this service is addressed to all the residents of our city and the different religions contained within it. It is being held in the Guildhall which is not actually a place of worship so it should not offend any faith or religion" (Bath Advertiser, 03.07.98). One of the opponents of the mayor's initiative is the Rev Ian Lewis from St Bartholomew's Church in Oldfield Park. He said: " Multifaith worship doesn't make any sense. People outside religion say that we all believe in God and should bring everyone together. But if you believe in a real live God as Christians do, that God has a real live character which will be different from that which a Muslim believes in, then this cannot work. To suggest that you can bring these two things together is a nonsense" (Bath Chronicle, 07.07.98). Supporters of the plan quoted in Q-News (01.08.98) include Jonathan Lloyd, a chaplain at Bath University, and Rashad Aazami, the imam of the Bath Islamic Centre. Mr Lloyd said: " I believe in a God that wants us to break down barriers, not reinforce them". Mr Aazami said: " We welcome Dr Badawi and the service as a chance to improve Muslim-Christian relations within the city". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Dorset Meeting

Dorset Buddhists arranged a multifaith evening in mid-July at which the main speakers were Rabbi David Soetendorp from Bournemouth and Osman Abu Bakr of the Dorchester Islamic Centre (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 11.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Jewish-Muslim Forum Launch

A Muslim-Jewish student society called the Calamus Maimonides Student Forum was launched at the beginning of July in London (Guardian, 14.07.98, Jewish Chronicle, 17.07.98). It aims to expand its activities to universities in Birmingham and Manchester in the autumn. David Kriker, director of the Maimonides Foundation and one of the founders of the project, explained: "There is great potential for cooperation between the two groups, both on campus and across our communities in Britain. At the end of the day, we want to provide a safe environment within which Muslim and Jewish students can explore and expand on both their similarities and their differences" (Jewish Chronicle, 17.07.98). Professor Bryan Reuben has written a letter to the Jewish Chronicle (17.07.98) also calling for more cooperation between Jews and Muslims on campuses. He argues that the group most vulnerable to the attention of Islamist groups such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir is not Jews, but other Muslims. He concludes his letter with a recommendation: "I hope that any action taken against Muslim extremists - and, on the whole, the National Union of Students has been much more active than university authorities~- will aim to involve and strengthen moderate Muslim groups, not to exclude them". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Provost Urges Muslim Friendship

The Provost of Birmingham, the Very Rev Peter Berry urged bishops at the Lambeth Conference to take Christian Muslim relations seriously. Speaking on the eve of the Conference's debate on the subject, he said: "The whole world owes an enormous debt to Islam for its cultural development and it is time to break down the ancient prejudices and negative stereotypes. Muslims worship the same one God as Christians and we should recognise the deep faith of the Islamic community and its holiness, its fasting and its giving of alms". Abdullah Bawahab, a research student at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, said: "Christians and Muslims have many things in common and should work together. The media has played a significant role in portraying the world of Islam as pagan. Maybe we cannot forget the past, but we can certainly forgive each other. By getting the ills off our chest through talking we leave a space for friendship. Dialogue between the two faiths is of vital importance" (Birmingham Post, 27.07.98) [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Bishop Talks of Islamophobia Battle

The Bishop of Bradford, David Smith, speaking at the Lambeth Conference's discussion on Christian-Muslim relations, said that even in Bradford, there was no room for complacency. He said: "We can't be cosy about what is happening in Bradford. We say to our fellow Muslims, in the name of God we seek to care for you. Join with us in seeking to care for Christians who are in a minority in Muslim countries". Whereas Alexander Malik, Bishop of Lahore, portrayed Muslims as "seeking to convert the whole world to Islam", the Bishop of Jerusalem, Riah Abu El-Assal, who is a Palestinian Arab, saw Muslims in a more positive light and appealed for harmony and co-operation (Yorkshire Post, 28.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11]

 

Halal

Slaughter Article

The Evening Standard (07.07.98) has a comment article which graphically describes the author's experience of halal slaughter in several countries. In part, the article by Brian Sewell, was also a plea that the live export of animals to the continent, which is likely to increase now the EU beef ban is about to be lifted, should cease. The article concludes: "The Conservatives were terrified of confronting halal slaughter, maintaining it to be 'a fundamental mater of religious belief to communities who are an important part of our national life'. It is, however, not a belief but a mere practice that is contrary to the spirit and teachings of the Koran and has no Koranic support. There is no reason to permit halal slaughter here and we should rise in anger against those who export European animals to suffer oriental cruelties and death. Sweden, Switzerland and New Zealand have banned these rituals and live exports: so should we. Where does New Labour, the party of compassion, stand?" Corrections on matters of fact in the article appeared in the Letters column of the Evening Standard on 14 July. Johnston McNeill, Chief Executive of the Meat Hygiene Service, York, pointed out that contrary to Mr Sewall's assertions, all slaughter men in the UK, including those engaged in kosher and halal slaughter, have to be trained and qualified and that there are detailed rules governing the procedures, set down in the Welfare of Animal (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations, 1995. He ends his letter: "Official veterinary surgeons take whatever action is appropriate to ensure compliance with the law - if anyone has any evidence of cruelty or poor practice they should get in touch with u!~'. On the same page, Dr Zaki Badawi of the Muslim College and Yousef al-Khoei of the al-Khoei Islamic Foundation, have written a joint letter. They point out that: "The Prophet of Islam was extremely affectionate towards animals and frequently warned of the dangers of excessive meat consumption. Mr Sewell has, however, tackled an important issue and, despite its glaring shortcomings, his article may well help in bringing about needed change. Ritual slaughter is an obligatory act for Muslims. It need not be cruel or inhumane - in fact, it is meant to be the opposite. The right approach is not to condemn ritual slaughter, but rather to insist that it is regulated and supervised". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 11/12]

 

Wholesalers Fire

A Birmingham halal meat wholesalers was severely damaged by fire on 20 July. The fire broke out at the Central Halal Poultry Centre in Coventry Road, Highgate at about 3pm and fire-fighters spent three hours tackling the blaze. Sub officer Steve Graham from the Highgate fire station said: The fire in the refrigeration unit destroyed the building and the fire started to spread quite quickly. There were several gas cylinders nearby which are used for refrigeration and there was also a forklift truck with butane gas on it which also started to leak. There was a heavy smell of gas in the air for a while but we managed to bring it under control". The cause of the fire is not known but it is not thought to be arson (Walsall Express & Star, 21.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 12]

 

Health

Sex Book Endorsed

Dr Majid Katme of the Islamic Medical Association has given his approval to a book published by the Order of Christian Unity, called The Safe Sex Hoax. Speaking at a House of Lords press conference and launch of the book, he said: " This book is based on logic and facts for the health of our young generation, in order to give them a happy future and stable family life". The author of the book, retired Addiscombe GP Margaret White, explained that she wrote the book because of her concern about sex outside marriage: " I don't blame girls, or boys either. And I certainly want to see them as well informed about sex as possible. What I do quarrel with is the fact that they are told by the Government that as long as they use contraception they can have safe sex ... Unwanted pregnancies go on and on rising. There is no such thing as safe sex, particularly for young people" (Croydon Advertiser, 03.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 12]

 

Donor Appeal

The Big Issue in the North (27.07.98) has an article explaining that, until recently, Islamic law apparently forbade organ donations, but that a new fatwa has removed many religious restrictions in the matter. In Bradford, the Health Authority is encouraging the Asian community to carry donor cards, and to encourage family members to become live donors, particularly of kidneys. The article features the case of two brothers. Ali Asghar gave his brother Mohammed Akram Mughal a kidney last year. Ali Asghar said: " I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to do what I have done. Demand for kidneys outstrips supply and patients can wait a long time for a match. I feel exactly the same as I did before the transplant, the only reminder is the scar. I was back at work behind my desk within four weeks of the operation and soon running 25 to 30 miles a week. I hope our experience will prompt more people to follow suit". His brother said: " I feel and look 10 years younger. This is a second life for me and I am so grateful for it". Dr Robin Jeffrey, a consultant with Bradford Hospitals trust, said: " We hope to make a real difference to the prospects for the unfortunate growing number of Asian patients developing kidney failure". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 12]

 

Egg Donation Opinion

An anonymous Eastern Eye (24.07.98) reader has written to the newspaper disagreeing with the suggestion that Asians should be encouraged to donated eggs to help childless couples. The letter says: " Muslims shouldn't be encouraged because in Islam it is classed as haram; a major sin because you do not know whose egg you are using. For all one knows it could be a family member's egg". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 12]

 

Employment

Muslims in the Army

Faisal Bodi, writing in Q-News (01.08.98), has a detailed feature article on racism and racial and religious discrimination in the British armed forces (see BMMS for March 1998). Some of the cases detailed in the article, such as those of Waheed Anwar, Qaisar Akbar, both from Blackburn, and Nasar Khan from Manchester have been reported on before (see BMMS for May 1998). All three of these men are now attempting to seek redress and compensation through the courts. The author argues that, in spite of the recent recruitment campaigns stressing equality of opportunity, in fact, the forces, especially certain regiments in the Army, remain racist and anti-Muslim, and that any changes have been merely cosmetic. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 12/13]

 

Compensation for Workplace Discrimination

The Independent (24.07.98) carries a detailed report of what Chris Myant of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) describes as " one of the most serious cases of racial discrimination to come before an industrial tribunal which involves young women". The case was brought by Shabnum Sharif, 18, Naheed Aklitar, 19 and 21-year-old twins Saima and Asma Nazir. They had been working at the Yorkshire Envelope Company in Bradford, where they were banned from observing Islamic holidays, told not to speak in Urdu, and were taunted with racial abuse. The company was also found to be operating less favourable pay scales and working conditions for Asian workers and to be promoting white employees ahead of Asians. The tribunal awarded the women £47,800 in damages, which included £10,500 for aggravated damages. A spokesperson for the tribunal said: "Rarely, it seems, have we seen a case in this tribunal where there has been so much evasion and contradiction and where it is clear that a respondent set out to smear the applicants". Saima Nazir said: "The way Yorkshire Envelopes treated us was really nasty and what made it worse was the way they came to the tribunal and tried to make out it was all our fault. I couldn't believe some of the things they came out with, but it backfired on them". The company said it would not be reviewing the way it operates and was unrepentant. One of its directors, Robert Shearer, said: "We still believe we were right and they were wrong". Chris Myant commented: "It is remarkable that these young people had the courage to take a leap in the dark and take on their employers. No one in their working life should have to experience this kind of intimidation. It's inhuman and outrageous. Here we are almost 22 years on from the Race Relations Act and we have yet another generation having to go through what their parents thought, and quite rightly, should have been eradicated years ago". [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Mosque Sacking

Women and children form Doncaster's Muslim community recently demonstrated outside the Jamia Mosque on Bentirick Road in favour of a sacked imam. The protesters claim that community leaders have been negotiating with the mosque's management committee for his reinstatement for the past five months, but to no avail. When the imam was sacked, his wife and two other religious teachers left their posts in sympathy. The children miss their old teachers and want them back (Doncaster Star, 25.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Mosques & Burials

Barking, Victoria Rd

A decision on an application for the extension of the mosque in Victoria Road, Barking, has been deferred (see BMMS for June 1998). Councillors decided they needed more information on the proposals from the Barking Muslim Association (Barking & Dagenham Post, 08.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Birmingham, Fosbrooke Rd

Objections have been made by some local residents to the continuing use of premises in Fosbrooke Road, Small Heath, as a mosque. They claim there is noise and traffic disturbance. Birmingham city planning department has taken up the residents' case, but Hafiz Muhammad Farooq Shah, owner of the building, has complained to the Secretary of State and intends to get permission to use the premises for worship reinstated. The council's planning inspector, Paul Garnham, intended to make a site visit on 23 July (Black Country Evening Mail, 23.07.98, Birmingham Post, 30.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Brighton, Bedford Place

A new mosque has just opened in Bedford Place, Brighton. It was formerly a car showroom. Nasim Khan, chair of the Medina Mosque, explained that the community had outgrown the old building: "The community is growing and thriving and has changed a lot in the last 10 years. A lot [of former students who came to Brighton] have inter-married and settled down. Now we have the second generation going to school" (Brighton & Hove Leader, 17.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Burton, Parker St

The formal opening of the new mosque, madrasa and community centre in a converted Methodist chapel in Parker Street was due to take place on 19 July (see BMMS for February 1998). East Staffordshire Mayor Councillor Tom Dawn is to perform the opening ceremony. Trustee Mohammed Ashraf said: " There is a big need in the area, especially on the Muslim education side. Our other community centre, in Uxbridge Street, is on the other side of town. This has been entirely community-funded. Money has been raised from Mosques in various parts of the country, such as London, Sheffield and Blackburn" (Bury Mail, 13.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Burton, Princess St

Planning permission has been granted to the Burton Muslim Mosque Committee to expand their mosques in Princess Street, as a first step towards building a sports centre and community hall at the premises. Permission includes the building of a 55ft. high minaret. Permission to have externally broadcast calls to prayer was refused, however (Burton Mail, 21.07.98, Burton & South Derbyshire Advertiser, 22.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13]

 

Clitheroe, Hoiden St

Plans to build a mosque in Holden Street in the centre of Clitheroe were rejected by the Ribble Valley Council's Planning Committee on 16 July (see BMMS for May and June 1998). The public gallery was packed with both supporters and opponents of the scheme. Planning officers had recommended rejection on the grounds of noise disturbance and parking problems. Objectors had submitted two petitions totalling over 600 signatures to the council opposing the mosque plan (Lancashire Evening Post, Blackburn Lancashire Evening Post, 17.07.98, Clitheroe Advertiser, 23.07.98, Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 30.07.98). Muslims are to appeal against the decision and are asking the council to give them a year's temporary permission to use the building whilst they search for an alternative site. Mohammed Arshad, spokesperson for the applicants said: " We have been looking for an alternative site for 21 years and there isn't one. We have submitted appeal documents and have also written to the council asking if we can run the mosque from the Islamic education Centre for a year on a trial basis. We think we are being treated unfairly and all we want is the chance to show that this scheme can work to the benefit of everyone" (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 30.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 13/14]

 

Harrow, Station Rd

The Harrow Mosque, in Station Road, is becoming increasingly frustrated that its bids to buy adjacent land for the purpose of expansion have been repeatedly rejected. The site next door is a former police station and is owned by the Home Office. Mosque committee chair Ilyas Khan said: " We have increased our original offer substantially and we have even told the agents we are prepared to offer them whatever they want - but they still don't seem interested". Tony Loughran, of Gooch Webster, the London agents handling the site, said: " We have acknowledged the offers from the mosque but obviously we will go with the highest offer we can get, which is more likely to come from the commercial sector'. Harrow Council's planning committee chair, Councillor Navin Shah, said: "It's common knowledge that the mosque has been interested in the land for a long time and their bid has the strong support of the council We want to see the site used for the good of the community. It would be a shame if it ended up being used for commercial purposes. It's not financially viable either - the agents may eventually get a higher bid, but imagine the interest they have had to pay in the meantime. They would have gained in the long run if they accepted the mosque's bid in the first place" (Harrow Observer, 09.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 14]

 

Hemel Hempstead, St Albans Hill

Dacorum Borough Council's development control committee has given planning permission for the Quwwat Islam Mosque in Hemel Hempstead to build a community hall next to the mosque (see BMMS for June 1998). This is in spite of objections from some local residents and the council's own concern about parking provision. At present, the Hemel Hempstead Ski Club allows mosque-goers to use their car park, but Councillor Les Taber said: "I am concerned that there should be a formal agreement with the ski club that it will offer parking for the foreseeable future. Before this is approved waiting restrictions should be set up in the area so that cars are forced to use the parking facilities rather than the surrounding roads" (Hemel Hempstead Gazette, 30.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 14]

 

Hounslow Burials

In Hounslow, it is likely that Muslim families whose burials of their deceased fall at weekends, could face increased charges. There is already a surcharge of £120 for a Saturday burial. The council is now considering offering the service 365 days a year, but says it must be self-financing. A council spokesperson said: "The demand for Muslim burials is increasing as people appreciate it can be done. At the moment the service depends on employees' goodwill to come out on overtime and as demand grows it needs to go onto a formal footing. The council does not want to withdraw the service but if you are going to have staff on call you have to pay them somehow. The extra costs will arise if someone dies./on a Saturday or Sunday and there is no-one to do the formal notification of death and paper-work for the burial plot before the funeral. We are looking into that area to see how we can provide the best service to residents of the borough and stay within budgets" (Hounslow Borough Chronicle, 09.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 14]

 

Leicester

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus in Leicester are hoping to build three places of worship on the same site. The Muslim organisation involved is the Dawoodi Bohra Jamaat. A spokesperson for the three groups, Jaffer Kapasi, explained that their plans were unique in Europe, but were based on a similar development in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. He said: "It will be a millennium place of worship and a unique tourist attraction for the city -something the city council and people of Leicester will be proud of. It will not cause any problems. We will have our own car parking spaces and entrances and there won't be any nuisance or disturbance as it is behind Hamilton police station and quite away from residents" (Leicester Mercury, 13.07.98). However, the local Hamilton Action Group, which includes residents of Asian origin, is opposed to the development as the land had been earmarked for leisure and sporting facilities. They are also concerned about the towers and domes being out of place, and possible noise and traffic disturbance (Leicester Mercury, 14.07.98). The architects chosen by the Dawoodi Bohra Jamaat for the projected mosque, Leicester-based Pick Everard, claimed that the building would look familiar: " Many architectural features of the building will have a familiar appearance, because both English medieval and Islamic architecture share common roots in the Middle East (Leicester Mercury, 16.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 14]

 

London, Forest Gate

The City of London Recorder (03.07.98) has published a correction to an earlier report. It explains that, in fact, councillors rejected plans from the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque for an extension to house a library at their premises in Upton Lane, Forest Gate. [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 14]

 

London, North Kensington, Acklam Rd

Planning permission has been applied for in respect of the garden of the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, at 240 Acklam Road, North Kensington. The plan includes water features on this presently derelict piece of land, which was formerly a goods yard (Kensington & Chelsea News, 02.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

London, Stratford, Abbey Mills

The developers of the proposed Riverine Centre, a mosque and Muslim community centre at Abbey Mills, Stratford, east London, have been asked by the council to produce a master plan showing what they propose to do with the land around the site, which is vast. The site was a former industrial site owned by RTZ and the Muslim association intends to develop a former office block as a mosque. (City of London Recorder, (03 .07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Morden, London Rd

In the final stage of the planning applications process, Morden's planning committee has granted full permission to the Ahmadiyya Muslim community to build a mosque on the site of the former Express Dairies. Outline planning permission was granted in February 1996, in the face of considerable opposition from Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The application includes a hall for worship and social purposes, television studios, library, printing facilities, offices and 305 parking spaces. The recommendation from the borough planners stated: " The proposed change s/additions should make a positive contribution to the overall appearance of the building and improve the character of this section of London Road. In design terms, there are no objections to the proposed development which will contribute positively to the overall appearance of the site and streetscape generally" (Putney & Wimbledon Times, 17.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Oldham, Clydesdale St

Oldham's planning committee has refused permission for a mosque and madrasa in Clydesdale Street. Central government planning officers have also recommended closure of the facility. Because of a legal technicality in that the council had not prepared their paperwork correctly, they have had to pay part of the mosque committee's appeal costs and may not be able to close down the language school and madrasa as well as the mosque. The Medina Islamic Centre's assistant secretary, Mohammed Nawaz Sheikh, said that they would continue their fight: "The matter is not finished, and we are not giving up. We will take it to the High Court, the House of Lords, and if necessary the European Court. We are going to take each and every legal step before we give up. We are prepared to take it all the way" (Oldham Advertiser, 30.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Oldham, Shaw, Margaret St

The Muhammadia Mosque Committee have applied to Oldham Council to convert a house in Margaret Street into a mosque. The scheme is likely to go before the planning committee at the end of August or beginning of September (Oldham Evening Chronicle, 28.07.98, Oldham Advertiser, 30.07.98). Liz Kershaw, planning officer at Oldham Council said: " We have received some letters of objection from local people and I have asked the applicants to supply more details about the plan. All relevant factors will be considered before a recommendation is made" (Oldham Evening Chronicle, 28.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Redditch, Smallwood

One of the largest mosques in the Midlands could be built on the site of a former battery works in Smallwood, Redditch (Birmingham Evening Mail, 01.07.98, Redditch Advertiser, 08.07.98, Redditch Advertiser, 15.07.98, 22.07.98, Alcester Chronicle, 22.07.98). The mosque will be on the site together with a retail park, pub and restaurant and 31 homes to rent. The director of the project, to be called Kingspark, Alan Sarjant, said: "We were approached at a late stage by the Muslim community for a new mosque as I believe their present one is not adequate to meet their needs. We were delighted that we have been able to include the mosque, which will be one of the largest in the region, within the plans. It has also brought to an end the many months of searching by the Muslim community to find a new and suitable site. But it also reflects our wish to meet the needs of the local community after carrying out a large consultation exercise to see what residents wanted on the site. Several ideas were identified with the creation of new jobs, new housing and a longstanding requirement to find a suitable home for a new mosque in the area(Birmingham Evening Mail, 01.07.98). The new mosque project secretary Fakharul Khan said that existing facilities at the Easemore Road Mosque were inadequate: "On celebration days we have over 1,200 people attending the mosque and it's a serious health and safety risk. If we weren't a place of worship they would have closed us down by now" (Redditch Advertiser, 15.07.98). The local Churches Together group is urging Christians and others to support the new mosque project. Churches Together chair, the Reverend Alan Smith said: "We hope this plan will be welcomed by unprejudiced people as a significant improvement. We are aware all place of worship can cause inconvenience to local residents through noise or car parking. We would like to defend a community's right to worship" (Redditch Advertiser, 22.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Rochdale, Lower Sheriff St

Rochdale Township Planning Subcommittee has voted in favour of the plans for the expansion of the mosque on the corner of Lower Sheriff Street and Holland Street. The number of worshippers has been restricted to 500 to avoid any parking problems, but the mosque will have a basement car-park to offer off-street parking (Rochdale Observer, 11.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Sheffield, Wolseley Rd

Plans are being drawn up for Sheffield's first purpose-built mosque in Wolsely Road, Sharrow (Sheffield Telegraph, 24.07.98, Barnsley Star, 27.07.98, Sheffield Star, 30.07.98). The Madina Mosque would be built on the site of the existing Islamic Centre, which is housed in a former Co-op building, and will cost £1 million. Nawaz Khan, a member of the mosque development steering group, said: " It will be a landmark building which is appropriate for the next millennium, with a character that will reflect the heritage of the area and its residents' (Barnsley Star, Sheffield Star 2 7.0 7.9 8). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 15/16]

 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust

Plans by the Abu Bakr Trust (see BMMS for January, March and April 1998) to turn a Southall Broadway office block into a mosque were rejected by one vote at a council meeting at the beginning of July (Southall Gazette, 10.07.98, 10.07.98). Supporters of the Abu Bakr Trust were very angry and accused the council of racial and religious discrimination. One member of the trust, Zulfi Qar, told the Southall Gazette (10.07.98): "We will not only make an appeal, we will take whatever measures we need to take. This is clear-cut discrimination". The reason for refusal given was that parking provision was inadequate for an estimated 500 worshippers. Ealing's only Muslim councillor, Mohammed Aslam, who owns the Punjab Karahi Restaurant, which is close to the proposed site, felt this number was an over-estimate. He told the Southall Gazette (17.07.98): "My staff and my son go there [temporary permission to use the building for worship is continuing until the result of the trust's appeal is known] because they work nearby. It is used for prayers five times a day but there are usually only about 50 people there, except on Friday lunchtimes, when there are no more than 200. It was refused planning permission on the basis that 500 people would be attending but I think that was an overestimate. They do not seem to be causing anyone any problems at the moment (Southall Gazette, 17.07.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 16]

 

Warrington

A new Muslim religious, educational and cultural centre is planned for Arperly Street, Warrington (Liverpool Daily Post, 03.08.98). [BMMS July 1998 Vol. VI, No. 7, p. 16]

 

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