British Muslims Monthly Survey for August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

US embassies bombing and anti-terrorism bill 

Death of Ali Ashraf 

Islam on campus 

Hijab sacking claim 

 

 

Reports

Community

Sheffield centre 

Slough update 

Hindu temple complaint 

Ahmadiyya conference 

Funeral battle 

Preston conference 

Wimbledon meeting 

Community leader death 

Cricket brawl 

Nelson parking row 

Bradford Ahmadiyya funding 

Batley Qur'an event 

Qawwali concert 

Daycare service launch 

Leicester daycare project 

Housing and community centre 

Census question update 

Millennium update 

Broadfield mosque open invite 

Teenage parachute jump 

Walsall centre protest 

Open days at Regents Park Mosque 

Oath row 

Model club protest 

Centre plan withdrawn 

Brent festival planned 

Qur'an errors 

 

Education

Regent's Park mosque visit 

Residential trip 

Upton Park plans 

Kidderminster school criticism 

Coventry school fights on 

Nation of Islam school closure 

Oxford appointment controversy 

School's Day of Islam 

Feversham funding bid 

A level successes 

Summer school success 

Madrasa plan agreed 

Study project launch 

Road danger concerns 

 

Politics

Nation of Islam

Crawley protest 

Muslim lords 

Derby meeting 

Pakistan independence celebration 

Nottingham Kashmiris campaign 

AI-Muhajiroun meeting 

Centre elections 

M15 spying claims 

 

Racism

MEP report rejection

French Islamophobia 

CRE criticism 

 

Women

Profile of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh 

Turkish bride update 

Miriam Stoppard's advice 

Batley centre activities 

 

Interfaith

Christian-Muslim understanding 

Hospital chapel complaint 

Lambeth conference 

 

Halal

Slaughter method defence 

 

Health

Muslim chaplain 

Dobson acknowledgement 

 

Employment

Prayer at work campaign 

Bradford case success 

Northampton unfair dismissal 

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor burials 

Barking, Victoria Rd 

Birmingham burials 

Birmingham, Fosbrooke Road 

Bradford, Manningham Lane 

Brighton 

Chingford, Chingford Mount Rd 

Clitheroe, Hoiden St 

Crawley, Broadwood Rise 

Crewe, Walthall St 

Gateshead burials 

Harrow, Station Rd 

Haslingden burials 

Keighley, Emily St 

Leicester 

Little Horton, Horton Park Avenue 

London, Whitechapel, East London Mosque 

Oldham, Shaw, Margaret Street 

Oxford, Manzil Way 

Reading, Oxford Road 

Redditch, Smallwood 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust 

Southall, Montague Way 

Tipton, Wellington Road

 

 

 

Features

US embassies bombing and anti-terrorism bill

Following the bombs at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the subsequent air strikes by US armed forces against Afghanistan and Sudan, killing 28 people in Afghanistan and an undisclosed number in Khartoum, there has been considerable comment by British Muslims.

In a press release, the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) stated: " The Muslin Council of Britain condemns unequivocally all acts of terrorism, including the ones recently carried out in Kenya, Tanzania and Northern Ireland by individuals, groups or nations. We believe that nothing can justify the killing of innocent people anywhere. We also strongly condemn last night's American air strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan. The American action is a clear violation of international law and takes us back to the days of gunboat diplomacy when might was right and the law of the jungle prevailed. What the terrorists did was wrong and what America did in retaliation against two Muslim countries that were not at war with America was also wrong and totally unjustified'. These words were echoed by Manzoor Mughal, a spokesperson for the MCB who is also chair of the Federation of Muslim Organisations in Leicestershire, who added: "We believe that nothing can justify the killing of innocent people anywhere. We also strongly condemn Thursday night's air strikes" (Leicester Mercury, 22.08.98).

On 21 August Muslims formed the majority of protesters at a demonstration against US action outside the embassy in London (Cardiff Western Mail, 22.08.98, Derby Evening Telegraph, 22.08.98, Liverpool Echo, 22.08.98, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 29.08.98, Awaaz, 01.09.98).

The Times (19.08.98) has published a letter from A. Mobarhani, of the Iranian Embassy, who writes: " This Embassy strongly refutes the allegations unfairly levelled at Iranian diplomats in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam of a 'connection' with the bombs detonated in those cities. The Islamic Republic of Iran has time and again explicitly condemned any resort to acts of terror in any form and aimed at any country. It was also one of the first countries to condemn the Kenyan and Tanzanian bombings and express its sorrow at the incidents". A comment column in the Western Morning News (14.08.98) focuses on the alleged reaction of Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the Al-Muhajiroun group, to the news of the bombings. He is reported to have said, "We endorse and applaud it," and to have invoked Islam to support his point of view. The columnist says of Mr Mohammed: "Several Tory MPs have called for his deportation, but I have not heard a peep from Labour or Jack Straw. To me, applauding a crime is like being an accomplice".

The government was preparing new anti-terrorist legislation, which would include making it an offence for groups such as exiles and dissidents resident in Britain to conspire to overthrow overseas regimes or to fund-raise for such purposes (see British Muslims Monthly Survey for November 1997). The Guardian (25.08.98) reported that the legislation might be brought forward from the original timetable and is " aimed in part at stifling refugee Islamic fundamentalists who openly support -from their London suburban bases -attacks on Western interests". The report continues: " In the autumn the Government is to publish a consultation paper on a comprehensive anti-terrorism law likely to outlaw conspiracy to commit violence abroad as well as fundraising for terrorist groups".

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, opposed such legislation, which he believed came from "a knee-jerk reaction to the comments made by one Muslim dissident, that is Omar Bakri Mohammed, leader of the group al-Muhajiroun, who supported the bombing of the US embassies. Dr Siddiqui warned the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that: "Confrontations and civil disobedience may well become inevitable. What would your government do if Britain's 1,000 mosques decided to challenge collectively the law on a particular day by raising funds against oppression in Kashmir" He outlined other situations of Muslim solidarity with their sisters and brothers in other lands, concluding: "...the Bill that your government is proposing would be an attack on 'Jihad' struggle against oppression and injustice, which is a fundamental tenet of the Muslim fait' (Darlington Northern Echo, 31.08.98). [71e legislation went through Parliament in early September and reactions to this will be reported in the next issue of BMMS]. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 1/2]

 

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Death of All Ashraf

The Independent (13.08.98) and the Cambridge Evening News (13.08.98) have tributes to the life of Professor Syed Ali Ashraf, who died in Cambridge on 7 August 1998. An Islamic scholar, he was born in Dhaka, India, in 1925, was Professor of English and head of department at Karachi University from 1956 to 1973; Director-General, World Centre for Islamic Education, 1980 to 1998; founder and Director-General of the Islamic Academy in Cambridge from 1983 until his death; and vice-chancellor of the University of Dhaka from 1997 to 1998. He was the editor of the Muslim Education Quarterly and the author of many works on Muslim education, including a GCSE Islamic Studies textbook. He was the organising secretary of the first World Conference on Muslim Education in 1977 and helped organise five subsequent conferences. The obituary in the Independent is by Professor Akbar Ahmed, who had been friends with the deceased for over twenty years. Professor Ahmed is also quoted in the Cambridge Evening News obituary as saying: 'Professor Ashraf was one of the half-dozen most important Muslim scholars of the last few decades".

The Cambridge Weekly News (19.08.98) and Q-News (15.08.98) also carry obituaries. Both articles stress his life-long work as a Muslim educationalist, including his support for Muslim schools. The article in Q-News is by Dr Shaikh Abdul Mabud, who is the deputy director of the institute Professor Ali Ashraf founded, the Islamic Academy in Cambridge. He outlines all the academic positions held by Ali Ashraf throughout his life, then goes on to say: " Professor Ashraf was a man who symbolised Islam, both in his person and the cause he stood for. He made an original and considerable contribution to the regeneration of Islamic education drawn from the Islamic worldview, laid the foundations of the movement of the Islamisation of education throughout the world, and has left a global impact on various aspects of the Islamic philosophy of education". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 2]

 

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Islam on campus

The report by the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) entitled Extremism and Intolerance on the Campus has now been published. Jewish organisations believe that the report was in response to their complaints about "Islamic fundamentalism" on campus (see BMMS for January 1998). Jeremy Newmark, a spokesperson for the Jewish Board of Deputies, said: "The truth of the matter is that the report is a response to complaints by Jewish students who have been victims of Islamic extremism. The majority of submissions to the CVCP were from the National Union of Students which was contacted by Jewish victims calling for Islamic extremism to be banned".

Paul Clark, the CVCP press officer, denied that the report's recommendations were specifically aimed at Islamic groups, or that Jewish student bodies had influenced the outcome. He said: "Some of our more recent concerns were complaints from gay and lesbian groups, for example, and concern over the activities of Christian Scientologists, the British National Party, the Socialist Workers Party and various other groups. If organisations like the Jewish Board of Deputies have interpreted it as being motivated by any particular group then they are very wrong. Of course we took everyone's view on board and therefore responded to a whole range of concerns" (Q-News, 15.08.98).

The Independent (01.09.98) has a guest comment column on the subject, written by Andrew Pakes, President of the National Union of Students. He is replying to an article in the Independent by Ken Livingstone, in which the latter apparently accused the NUS regarding its campaign against so-called " Islamic extremists% saying that this was not fighting racism. Mr Pakes writes: "NUS has never claimed that the small but dangerous groups of Islamic extremists are the main cause of racism, but they are a distinct and real threat to the welfare and safety of many students. As a gay male, I myself, have been subjected to some of their bile and hatred". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 2]

 

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Hijab sacking claim

Student Sabrina Sardar, aged 16, claims that she was sacked from her job at McDonald's in Northolt for wearing hijab. She is now taking the firm to an industrial tribunal for discrimination on the grounds of race. She explained that on 1 July she had a training session and the next day she went to work and put on the firm's uniform, but with a headscarf instead of the firm's hair-net. Ms Sardar said: "After I got changed, as I walked out of the changing room, other workers said they didn't think scarves were allowed. Then I was asked to see the manager. I told him I couldn't take it off. It was against my religion. He said: 'Can't you tuck it under the cap?' and I said 'No' because it would show all my neck, and my hair would have been seen through the hole at the back`. She continued: " On hygiene reasons I can't see why I wasn't allowed to wear the scarf. I would have worn a fresh one every day, either white or black".

Her father, Abid, commented: " Sabrina came home crying. She explained what had happened. I immediately telephoned McDonalds' manager. He told me according to their policies she was not allowed to wear the scarf due to Health and Safety reasons. I told him the scarf covers all of her hair. I asked him if they would allow a person to work with a turban. He did not reply. What annoyed me was that this was her first job and she was excited" (Muslim News, 28.08.98).

A spokesperson for McDonald's said: " It's accepted policy around the UK and around the world, for reasons of food hygiene and safety, that our staff should wear hair nets. When somebody joins us it's on the understanding they will wear one of our hair nets, with guaranteed quality of cleanliness, and this was fully explained before she took the job. If Sabrina had agreed to wear the hair net she could be working for us now. The issue of her wearing the hair net and the scarf never arose at the time. If it had, that could have been a possible way forward. It is ironic that the assistant manager she is alleging sacked her is himself a Muslim, as are the manager and five female staff at the branch. We have every sympathy, and are sorry this couldn't have been resolved at an earlier stage" (Harrow Observer, 13.08.98, Ealing & Acton Gazette, 14.08.98). A spokesperson for McDonalds, Catherine Longley, also told Muslim News (28.08.98): " She was most welcome to wear the head scarf. The reason she was asked to go home to get a suitable head scarf was because it was dirty". Sabrina firmly rejected Ms Longley's version of events, saying the scarf was not dirty and she was not given any opportunity to wear another one. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 2/3]

 

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Reports

Community

Sheffield centre

The Sheffield Telegraph (31.07.98) reports that the City Council has rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the management of the Pakistani Muslim Centre (see BMMS for May and July 1998). A recent council meeting confirmed that it would be underwriting the organisation to the amount of 68,000 to rescue it from its current difficulties. This sum includes the 10,000 the centre owes as an out of court settlement to a former female employee who claimed that her treatment by the centre had constituted sexual discrimination (see BMMS for March, April and June 1998). Liberal Democrats on the council wanted a further inquiry into the centre's management, but were over-ruled by the Labour majority. Council leader Jan Wilson admitted there had been financial and managerial difficulties but said: "In my view the chief executive's report is detailed enough and I see no purpose in an independent inquiry". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3]

Slough update

The Slough & Langley Observer (31.07.98) reports that twice as many Asians, proportionate to their numbers in the local population, are searched by police on suspicion of drug offences than white Europeans in the Slough area (see BMMS for March, April, May and July 1998). The article says: "Figures show 283 Asians were stop searched by Slough police between April 1997 and March 1998, compared with 233 white Europeans who make up about 65 per cent of the population...

Total figures for all police searches reveal that of 1,600 stop searches carried out in Slough, 35 per cent were of Asians. Afro Caribbean people account for between four and six per cent of the population but almost eight per cent of the searches". Detective Inspector Steve Neale argued that the figures were higher for Asians because they were a younger population than whites and because of searches at large Asian festivals, where the police were concerned to prevent violence between Muslim and Sikh youths. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3]

Hindu temple complaint

Controversy continues over the design and decoration of the exterior, particularly the gates, of the Ilford Hindu temple (see BMMS for July 1998). A mosque is directly opposite the temple and many Muslims feel the proposed design of the gates, which includes swastikas, is deliberately provocative and offensive. A member of the nearby mosque, Sheikh Shudah, said: " We'll just have to hope that it will not result in any conflict between our two communities. We are looking into our options for appeal. We will have to accept the final decision of the council but we are not happy" (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 06.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3]

Ahmadiyya conference

The recent Ahmadiyya gathering at 'Islamabad' (see BMMS for July 1998), formerly known as Old Sheephatch School, a 25-acre site owned by the Ahmadiyya community in Surrey, held at the beginning of August, was held to be a great success by the participants. Over 15,000 people from more than 50 countries attended the event. Dr Mirza Baig, a delegate from Fence in Lancashire, said: "Our aim is to revive the spirit of true Islam, combining all religions as embodied in the Holy Qur'an, which teaches tolerance, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, and the upholding of human rights, irrespective of class, creed, gender or colour" (Burnley Citizen, 30.07.98). Rashid Chaudhary, a retired teacher from London, who was a volunteer cook at the event, said: " This convention is an opportunity for Ahmadi Muslims to meet each other, discuss our faith and pray with our supreme leader. That's the fun part. It's also three days of hard work for all the volunteers who make sure the convention runs smoothly" (Surrey Advertiser, 14.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3]

Funeral battle

On Friday, 24 July, a fight broke out during a funeral at the Balham Mosque. One man received serious stab wounds, another was arrested after his car collided with a police motorcyclist, allegedly as he was attempting to flee the violence, and eight other men were arrested. The police found various offensive weapons which indicate that the violence was pre-planned. Investigations into the exact causes of the fight are continuing (South London Press, 28.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3]

Preston conference

The Sunni Dawat-e-Islami group were due to hold their international conference during the first weekend in August at the Noor Hall, in Noor Street, Preston. They had the opportunity to meet the group's leader, Maulana Shakir Rizvi, who was travelling from Bombay, India, to attend the gathering (Burnley Citizen, 30.07.98, Lancaster Guardian, Garstang Guardian, 31.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 3/4]

Wimbledon meeting

At the end of July, members of the Merton Islamic Trust and the British Muslim Association met the Mayor of Merton, Linda Kirby, and the MP for Wimbledon, Roger Casale (Wimbledon Guardian, 30.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 4]

Community leader death

The Bucks Free Press (31.07.98, 07.08.98) has several tributes to a local Muslim community activist, Sufi Mohammed Afzal, who died at the age of 67 at the end of July following two years of illness. Mr Afzal helped establish the first mosque in High Wycombe. Abdul Rashid, current chair of the Wycombe Mosque committee, recounted: "He had a house in West Wycombe Road in 1967 which he converted into a mini-mosque. He taught his children to read and write Arabic and Urdu but there wasn't enough room for Namaz (prayers) and other Islamic teachings. So he began to go door-to-door to try to raise funds for a mosque. A committee was established in 1968 and members only needed to put in two shillings for them to join. He then wrote to Islamic embassies worldwide and we were amazed when we received a 4,000 donation from King Hussein of Jordan". The first mosque was finally established in 1972, although soon that too proved to be too small to meet the demand. Mr Rashid continued: " The house simply wasn't big enough. But the foundations had been laid by Mr Afzal and the most difficult thing had been accomplished because we had a base to work from" (Bucks Free Press, 31.07.98). Over 600 people attended the funeral at Wycombe Mosque and a great many also attended the meeting for condolences at Townfield House. Rafiq Raja, writing Raja Amir Dad's column in the Bucks Free Press (07.08.98) whilst the latter was on holiday, commented: " The call for a community centre for the Muslim community in the eastern part of High Wycombe was fully justified last week when Townfield House, newly acquired by the Muslim community, was used to hold condolence meetings for Sufi Mohammed Afzal, who died after a long battle with illness ... It was ironic that the centre was used for the first time for such a purpose for someone who was one of the pioneers in establishing a mosque in High Wycombe and worked for the acquisition of a community centre to serve all the religious needs of the community". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 4]

Cricket brawl

Cricket clubs who were involved in a fight on the cricket field have been disciplined by the Shropshire league. The fight took place at Albrighton, during a match between Telford Muslims and Albrighton Cricket Club on 27 June (Bridgnorth Journal, 31.07.98, Wolverhampton Express & Star, 04.08.98). Two players from each team were banned from playing for a number of weeks and both teams have been warned about the penalties which will ensue if their conduct in the future is not satisfactory (Wolverhampton Express & Star, 04.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 4]

Nelson parking row

Over one thousand people attended the Islamic Camp '98, held at Edge End High School in Nelson, during the last weekend of July, causing some local residents to be inconvenienced by parking problems over that weekend. Mohammed Iqbal, spokesperson for the organisers, Idara Minhaj-Ul-Quran, said: "There was enough room to park the cars in the fields. We were not aware of any serious problems regarding the parking situation. The only time we discovered there was a problem was when a car had been parked outside the driveway of a house. We alerted the owner over a Tannoy so that he could move if'. Residents also complained that the event was inadequately policed, especially regarding parking problems. Sgt June Grice responded: "All officers were aware of the event and there was a passing presence. The festival organisers were aware that the police would not be there all the time" (Nelson Leader, 31.07.98).

Martin Burgess, head of Edge End High School, where the Islamic Camp was held, has written to the Colne Times (21.08.98) apologising for any difficulties experienced by local residents whilst the camp was taking place due to car parking. He points out that, even in normal circumstances, the parking facilities at and around the school are not ideal. Mr Burgess continues: " Unfortunately, as an ordinary member of the public, even with my status as head teacher, I have no right or power to move an illegally parked car. The same applies to the organisers of the Islamic Camp who had informed the police in plenty of time of the likely parking problems. These problems were compounded by the recent spell of bad weather as their original plans to use some of the school fields for parking were just not feasible ... the running and organisation of the camp will be fully discussed at the next meeting of the governing body and appropriate action will be taken". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 4]

Bradford Ahmadiyya funding

A community centre offering training and education services to Muslims in the Leeds Road area of Bradford is planning to expand now that it has received 109,000 of National Lottery funding via English Partnerships. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association plans to build two extra classrooms, a youth club, crèche and cafe at their premises in Leeds Road, which are situated in one of the most deprived parts of Bradford. English Partnerships' senior development officer, John Haynes said: " Without a facility like this, many people could miss out on training and education opportunities. It is hoped in particular that the new childcare facilities will enable Asian women to take up courses at the centre" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, Yorkshire Post, 19.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 4]

Batley Qur'an event

This year, Mount Pleasant in Batley was chosen as the venue for the London based AI-Birr Foundation's annual Qur'an reciting competition. There are three classes, with upper age limits of 22, 18 and 14 and each of these attracts a first, second and third cash prize. The judging of the recitations took place in the Medina Mosque, the Dawah Centre and St Andrews Hall and the results were announced in the mosque on Purlwell Avenue. Over two and a half thousand people attended the final award-giving ceremony (Awaaz, 0 1.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Qawwali concert

The Rizwan Qawwali Group appeared at the Taleisin Arts Centre in Swansea on 7 August. The main singers are four young brothers, who are related to the deceased Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the great Qawwali master. The Western Mail (07.08.98) explains that: "Qawwali love songs are based on classical Islamic and Sufi texts and their inspirational sounds are rapidly gaining devotees among Western audiences~'. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Day-care service launch

A recently-opened day care service for elderly Asians in Nuneaton based at the Edward Street Community Centre, launched in the middle of August, has been praised by Warwickshire Social Services. Mehrunnisa Lalani, who is ethnic minority liaison officer for Warwickshire Social Services, said: "The facility hasn't been running for very long, but already it is proving to be a big success. The day service enables house-bound and vulnerable elderly people to interact with each other and participate in stimulating activities in a culturally-sensitive environment. Although the service is aimed mainly at older and disabled people from Muslim communities, it is open to other Asian people who need if' (Nuneaton Weekly Tribune, 20.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Leicester daycare project

Work has started on a 180,000 project to provide premises for the activities of the Senior Citizens' Umbrella Group of Leicester. The group represents four organisations which currently care for the frail and disabled elderly: the Sikh Elderly group; the Maya group for Asian women; the Nayab Muslim group and Rebecca's Pantry. Around 30 people attended a ceremony on 18 August at which the leader of the council, Peter Soulsby, laid the first brick. Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh religious representatives then blessed the site. Councillor Soulsby said: " I very much look forward to coming back and seeing the project when it's completed and the valuable part it will play in providing facilities for local people and the city more widely" (Leicester Mercury, 19.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Housing and community centre

Awaaz (01.08.98) reports that the building of 18 houses and an Educational and Cultural Centre in Ravensthorpe, Kirklees, is proceeding according to schedule. The project is the result of cooperation between Kirklees Housing, Sadeh Lok Housing Association, representatives from the adjacent Crawshaw Street Mosque and from Hammara Ghar, a community group which helps local Asian families who have disabled children. Local councillors from all parties praised the scheme, but Karam Hussain, newly elected Liberal councillor, said that he would prefer to see more council housing. He explained: " I'm totally for any further housing developments in this area, but I'd prefer to see more housing under local government. There are a lot of developments, but at the end of the day few are local government initiatives. A council house costs 40 a week, but a housing association house can cost somewhere between 60 and 80" [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Census question update

Q-News (15.08.98) reports that there has been a leak from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the body responsible for the national census, that there will not be a question on religious affiliation in the 2001 Census (see BMMS for June 1997), in spite of there being a positive response from trial runs of the question. Khalida Khan of the London-based An-Nisa Society, which was involved in the trial, said: "A large part of the present marginalisation and deprivation of the Muslim community is due to lack of relevant statistics of them as Muslims rather than them being subsumed in racial groupings. Suggestions that information on religious affiliation would be useless is totally baseless. It shows how little the civil servants behind the decision know about the social realities that confront our communities". The article concludes: " The Office for National Statistics was keeping tight-lipped about the leak saying only that no final decision had been made. The Census White Paper is not due out until November but faith communities have been urging people to lobby MPs, government ministers and the media to pressure the ONS for an about-turn in the ministerial decision and to retain the question". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Millennium update

The 'Spirit Zone' area of the Millennium dome may be scrapped due to lack of sponsorship (see BMMS for February, April and July 1998). Liam Kane, managing director of the new Millennium Experience Company, said: "The spirit zone is the hardest to finance. I say a prayer every night that the next day I will find a sponsor for the Spirit Zone". A spokesperson for the Southwark Muslim Women's Society commented: "It seems to me that there will be no representation of faiths other than Christian. There is a feeling that we don't belong to this celebration even though it's a perfect chance to show people what we're about" (South London Press, 28.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Broadfield Mosque open invite

The open day planned at the Broadfield mosque (Crawley News, 12.08.98, 19.08.98) was considered by the organisers to have been a great success. Visitors included the mayor, Andy Kane, police officers and social workers. Mohammed Chaudary, chair of the mosque, said: " People were invited to find out about our religion. The visitors liked the look of the mosque from the outside but thought it was even better inside" (Crawley News, 19.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 5]

Teenage parachute jump

Azram Hussain, a nineteen year-old accounts assistant from Oxford, is preparing to do a sponsored parachute jump to raise money for the Oxford Transplant Centre. He said that members of the Muslim community are generally willing to benefit from organ transplants but are very reluctant to donate organs. So far, Azram has raised 1,000 in sponsorship pledges (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Walsall centre protest

Nearly 70 people have signed a petition and nine have written letters to Walsall Council against an Islamic community centre planned for Mount Street, Caldmore, Walsall. Activities planned include language classes, a drop-in centre, sport and leisure facilities, and space for wedding receptions, funeral gatherings and community meetings. Objecting local residents say there are already sufficient community centres in the area and that the premises would lead to traffic and noise nuisance (Black Country Evening Mail, 21.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Open days at Regents Park Mosque

The Central Mosque at Regents Park held three open days at the end of August, which included exhibitions about the Muslim way of life and Islamic art and culture (What's On in London, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Oath row

Solihull News (21.08.98) reports on the case of a former employee of Beatties in Solihull who helped capture a thief at the store and when cross-examined as a witness by the barrister for the defence at Solihull Magistrates Court, Suzanne Crane, was attacked because he did not swear an oath on the Qur'an, but swore on the Bible instead. The witness, Munitaz Khanan, said: " I think what she said in court was below the belt. She accused me of being a liar. I swore on the holy book regardless of its title. At the end of the day it's the same". A spokesperson for the Lord Chancellor's Department said: " People swear on oath to tell the truth. When they go to court, they are offered a holy book. If a person does not want to swear on that book, it's up to them to ask for another. All courts have holy books in all the main faiths and normally a court usher would offer a person a holy book of their choice. If a person feels inappropriate comments have been made towards them by barristers in court, they can complain to the Bar Council". The leader of the Solihull Muslim Community Association, Muhammed Hamid, who brought the issue to the attention of the newspaper, commented: " It was very unfair for the barrister to say Mr Khanan was lying. It's entirely up to Muslims what they swear on in court. The Bible is still the holy book. It would be entirely irrelevant to say this sort of thing". Mr Khanan's complaint against the barrister is being investigated. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Model club protest

A letter and a petition with 162 names was sent to Gloucester City's planning department by the Gloucestershire Islamic Trust objecting to plans for a club next door to their mosque (The Times, Western Daily Press, Sun, Daily Star, Mirror, Daily Telegraph, 22.08.98, Stroud Citizen, 24.08.98, Birmingham Post, 24.08.98, Sunday Independent, 30.08.98). The club concerned, however, turned out not to be a drinking club, as the Islamic trust had apparently believed, but a club for model railway enthusiasts. Andrew Cowling, owner of a model shop and chair of the Barton Gates club, said: " It would be funny if it wasn't so insulting. I am prepared to put up with the noise of their worship if they are prepared to put up with a few men and a couple of kids playing with model trains" (The Times, 22.08.98). Even after this explanation had been given, the Muslims still had misgivings. A trustee of the Islamic trust, Anwar Limalia, said they were worried that a precedent might be set: " At the moment the building is just a warehouse that is used in the daytime and it is very quiet there. But if a club is allowed it could open the door for other things to happen" (Western Daily Press, 22.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Centre plan withdrawn

The Kokni Muslim Association has withdrawn its application to create an Asian community centre in Newton Street, Blackburn. The centre would have been used primarily as a place for women and children to have meals after weddings. After objections from residents, planning chiefs made it clear they would be recommending rejection of the plans and the Muslim association decided to withdraw their application (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 24.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Brent festival planned

Brent Council, together with the Muslim community of the borough, is planning a festival to be held at Copland Community School, Cecil Avenue, Wembley on 6 September. One of the proponents of the festival, Councillor Beswick, said: " This festival will be a great learning opportunity for children and adults, both male and female from many diverse cultural backgrounds and will further the Council's policy towards racial harmony" (Asian Times, 25.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Qur'an errors

Muslim News (28.08.98) reports that a copy of the Qur'an, which claims to be a translation by J M Rodwell, is still in circulation, even though Muslims have pointed out that some verses are missing. Mustafa Jaffer, a member of the Islamic Education Board in Harefield, Middlesex, wrote to Ballantine Books, part of the Random House group in New York, pointing out the errors and urging the publishers to "take the necessary steps to correct this situation". To date, no attempt has been made to correct the copy. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Education

Regent's Park mosque visit

Children from Ansford Community School in the Mendips recently visited Regents Park Mosque. The trip was part of a joint history and religious studies project which gave pupils the opportunity to meet Muslims and learn more about Islamic culture (Western Gazette, 30.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 6]

Residential trip

Year 7 students at Birkdale High School, of whom many are Muslims, have been on a residential trip to the Lake District. He school's community liaison worker, Farida Patel, explained that a lot of preparation had been needed to make the trip a success: " I have had problems in the past, with parents not confident about sending their children away. This time I've done about 17 home visits to talk to parents and explain about the educational benefit of the trip. Some parents were very concerned, one boy is training to become hafiz and his parents were concerned that he might let his studies slip while he was away". Staff ensured that all food was halal and that the children had the opportunity to pray five times a day. Sandra Crick, one of the supervising teachers, commented: "For some of the children prayers became quite a memorable experience. Having spent a glorious day climbing Loughrigg Fell and enjoying the spectacular views over the Lake District, I was reminded by Ahmed, one of the students, that prayers were due. It somehow seemed right for the children to carry out their prayers in such a beautiful setting, under the shade of the trees, by a small river, in the quiet and the peace of the countryside" (Awaaz, 01.08.98).  [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7]

 

Upton Park plans

Permission to have Islamic education classes in the now expanded Islamic Centre in Upton Park (see BMMS for July 1998) has been refused by Newham Council. The council claims the scheme would lead to the "over intensification" of land use and to increased traffic (City of London Recorder, 07.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7]

 

Kidderminster school criticism

The Times Educational Supplement (07.08.98) has a report that the Office for Standards in Education, OFSTED, has criticised two religious schools, one Muslim and the other Jewish Orthodox, following recent inspections. The Jewish school is the Mechinoh Boys' School in Salford, and the Muslim school is the Madinutul Uloom al-Islamiya in Kidderminster (see BMMS for July 1998). According to the newspaper report, the criticisms of the two schools are similar: "...the schools concentrated on religious education at the expense of secular subjects, had inadequate and potentially dangerous accommodation and limited nonreligious books and teaching materials. Both schools' primary aim is to educate boys in the theology of their religion. Both reports judged they were successful in this but said other areas of the curriculum were neglected. The inspections follow critical reports on two Muslim and one Jewish school last year which raised almost identical concerns". The Madinutul Uloom school has been visited several times by OFSTED inspectors and by Worcestershire Social Services. At the previous OFSTED visit in September 1997, inspectors were concerned to find a deterioration in conditions. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7]

 

Coventry school fights on

The trustees of the Paradise School in Cromwell Street, Foleshill, Coventry (see BMMS for March, April, May, June and July 1998), have launched a formal appeal against the council's enforcement notice closing the school. Councillor Shabbir Ahmed (Conservative, St Michael's) said the school's organisers had not found new premises because they had spent a lot on the Cromwell Street school. He commented: "There is a deep-rooted suspicion that the Muslim community does not have any influence with the local authority, while other communities get away with planning applications that one would question" (Coventry Evening Telegraph, 18.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7]

 

Nation of Islam school closure

More than 150 men, women and children held a demonstration outside Hammersmith and Fulham Town Hall to protest against the closure of the Star Chamber Academy, a Muslim school run by the Nation of Islam. Talks are continuing between the school's organisers and the council (Wolverhampton Express & Star, 17.08.98, Shropshire Star, 18.08.98).

However members of the NoI have vowed not to allow the council to close the school, which has been operating in the Simba Community Centre in Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, providing education for 60 children aged between two and 16. Leo Muhammed, speaking on behalf of the Star Chamber Academy, said: "The council talks about equal opportunities, but we think this is racism just because we are Muslims. They have given us a deadline of August 30 and then they are going to put our children out on the streets, but we are not going to close our school. We want justice" (Hammersmith, Fulham & Shepherds Bush Gazette, 21.08.98). Karen Mohammed, speaking on behalf of the Nol, said: "The council's failure to provide a proper reason for asking us to leave and their reluctance to resolve this situation lead us to conclude that we are the victims of discrimination. We believe that negative media coverage could have compelled them to take this action" (The Voice, 31.08.98). The Morning Star (18.08.98) talked to Leo Muhammed who pointed out that Hammersmith and Fulham council had the second highest level of pupil expulsions in the country last year and that by closing the Simba community centre and so leaving the community school without a home, the council was 41 putting our children on the streets". He added: " We believe that we can educate our children in order that they can have a future". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7]

 

Oxford appointment controversy

Professor Jean Michot, formerly of Louvain-la-Neuve University in Belgium, has been appointed to a lectureship at Oxford University. He was forced to leave his post at Louvain after being linked to the translation and commentary of a medieval Islamic text which apparently advocated the slaughter of Christian monks by Muslims, at a time when several Trappist monks were killed by Islamist militants in Algeria in 1996. Professor Michot neither denied nor admitted translating and publishing the pamphlet, but he was forced to resign from his post. He is to take up his post as a Fellow at the Centre for Islamic Studies at the start of the autumn term (The Times, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 7/8]

 

School 'Day of Islam'

Members of the Gravesend Muslim Women's Group organised a Day of Islam for students at the Fort Pitt Grammar School in Chatham. Activities included wearing clothes from different Muslim countries, cookery, Islamic pattern design and henna decoration. The day aimed to show students the diversity of culture amongst Muslims (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Feversham funding bid

Negotiations are taking place in Bradford concerning a suitable site for the Muslim girls' school, Feversham College (see BMMS for June and July 1998). If approval is given, the new institution will become part of the public sector and will be on the site of Undercliffe Middle School, currently facing closure as part of reorganisation in the area. The head teacher, Rehana Shafquat, said: " It is very exciting. This will be a great benefit to Bradford considering the multi-cultural background of the city. The new site means we will be able to accommodate more pupils in a better building with better services". Councillor Suzanne Rooney, deputy chair of Bradford Education Committee, said: " I think we have got to give parents choice and diversity and accept that this will give the Muslim community the right to choose a school which will teach their religious principles in the same way as a Roman Catholic or a Church of England school. It will also ensure that the girls share the same curriculum and education opportunities that all children in local authority schools have" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 24.08.98, Yorkshire Post, 25.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

A level successes

Three mature students who sat 'A' level Religious Studies Islam by Distance Learning organised by the Association of Muslim Researchers (AMR) have achieved success in their exam (Q-News, 15.08.98). In Nottingham, all 15 women who took Urdu 'A' level at the Nottingham People's College have passed. They studied for their exams at the Muslim Women's Centre. A special presentation was made to the women by the Lord Mayor of Nottingham Joyce Donn and the Sheriff Chris Gibson (Nottingham & Long Eaton Topper, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Summer school success

A Heckmondwicke summer school for Muslim children has proved very popular and hopefully will be repeated next summer. The summer school was run by the Barnardos project in Brighton Street and lasted four weeks. It was mainly aimed at 10 to 11 year-olds to help them with the transition to secondary school. Activities included a day trip to Scarborough, a visit to the cinema, producing a play, learning how to be a press reporter, sports activities, role play and training in public speaking (Spenborough Guardian, 21.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Madrasa plan agreed

Plans to extend a madrasa from a terraced house into the property next door have been approved by Blackbum council in spite of objections from some neighbours. The religious school is in Stansfield Street, Blackburn. Those who objected did so mainly on the grounds of increased noise and traffic (Blackburn Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 24.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Study project launch

Cambridge University's Centre for Advanced Religious and Theological Studies hopes to embark on a project studying Muslim communities in Europe. Dr David Thompson, director of the centre, said: "The main significance of this project, especially in the light of events of the last 10 days or so, is to defuse the stereotypical images of Islam that are about in the media". Selwyn College Fellow, Professor Akbar Ahmed, who is to lead the project said: "As the world is moving towards a confrontation between Islam and the West, this project becomes not just an academic exercise. It is also of crucial importance in promoting understanding. With understanding, both sides can talk and attempt to adjust to each other" (Cambridge Evening News, 31.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Road danger concerns

Parents of Muslim children in Kirklees are asking the council to implement safety measures for their children travelling to and from madrasa classes in the evening. A parent whose eight year old son attends madrasa classes at the Mount Pleasant Islamic Cultural Centre on Purley Road in Batley said: "It is like a madhouse at half past seven when the children finish their classes. Parents come in their cars to pick up their sons and daughters, the pavement is very narrow on both sides, the visibility isn't good and this is a major bus route". Ideally, parents would like a school crossing patrol in the evenings. Similar concerns have been voiced in Huddersfield, where Sabir Hussain, who teaches at the Abu-Bakr Mosque on Church Street, has asked the council to make a pedestrian crossing near the mosque (Awaaz, 0 1.09.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8]

 

Politics

Nation of Islam

At a press conference held in July, senior representatives of the Nation of Islam defended their actions at the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, the black south London teenager who was killed by racists (see BMMS for June and July 1998). Abdul Ali Mohammed, Health and Human Services Minister for the Nation of Islam in the USA, said: "We believe Stephen Lawrence was brutally murdered. There is a tendency in this society which makes individuals think it's not murder to murder an innocent black man. We cannot allow the process to go unwitnessed. We're there at every session of the inquiry". Speaking of events on the day of the disruption of the inquiry, he said there appeared to be 1~ a conspiracy involved to remove the Nation of Islam from the Chamber. The Secretary officiating at the hearing asked some of our brothers to come out of the chamber, which was on the fourth floor hearing room and help with crowd control on the ground floor. Video rooms which were available in the past were not available this day. When our brothers had attempted to re-enter the hearing they were denied access to hall passes. There was a planned operation carried out against us ... to discredit the acts for the Nation of Islam which is only to fight for justice" (Muslim News, 28.08.98).

Awaaz (01.08.98) has an article outlining the history of the Nation of Islam in Britain. The author argues that: " In Britain the Nation of Islam stands for black pride and solidarity - and this is its greatest strength. The sect is the perfect antidote to inner-city racial violence. It is responsible for promoting political consciousness amongst the youth. The Nation also places great emphasis on higher learning and knowledge. As its popularity spreads in this country, it is important to dwell on the Nation's positive messages - and more importantly its place in combating the fascist thugs on the streets. Members of the Nation of Islam are well organised and very disciplined. Britain's black community needs such foot soldiers to prevent anymore needless racist murders. If the police feel powerless to prevent the BNP from peddling its vile propaganda, maybe they should allow the Nation of Islam to clean up the streets". The Voice (10.08.98) in its regular column, "Men: A-Z", features Malcolm X. This article argues that: "Now he is dead everyone can claim his legacy as their own. Orthodox Muslims say he had abandoned the discredited teachings of the Nation [of Islam] and embraced $proper' Islam. The Nation argues that he was on the verge of returning to the fold. Socialists say Malcolm had abandoned religion all together and saw socialism as the answer to the world's problems. Because he died at such a turning point in history everybody can claim him as their own". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 8/9]

 

Crawley protest

Muslims from the AI-Muhajiroun organisation were barred from participating in the local Asian Mela celebrations in Crawley because the advisory committee decided that their stall was too religious and out of keeping with a secular event. They responded by staging a demonstration outside the venue, asking people to

boycott the event. Saleem Sultan, spokesperson for AI-Muhajiroun, said: "There are 3-4,000 Muslims in Crawley. We don't harm anybody or insult anyone. We have a contribution to make, but this year we've had it thrown back at us ... I feel we could be part of a family event. Some of our books are for children. We are getting a bit annoyed about this. It's like a form of censorship. There is a feeling that we have been censored" (Crawley News, 05.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 9]

 

Muslim lords

Muslim News (28.08.98) has an article by Daoud Rosser-Owen in which he discusses the position of Muslims in the House of Lords. There are now four Muslims in the Lords: Abdul Matin Pelham, 8' Earl of Yarborough, a Conservative who is a hereditary peer; Pola Uddin, Waheed Ally and Nazir Ahmed (see BMMS for June 1998), who are all Labour Party supporters nominated to the Lords by Tony Blair. A British Muslim who is a Conservative, Mr Rosser-Owen supports the concept of a House of Lords and believes that only minor reforms, if any, are desirable to this aspect of the British Constitution. He writes: "Many of Britain's Muslims have little idea of how our system of government works, and are easily persuaded that such reform is necessary. But is it? There is a popular saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't mend it'. It is internationally recognised that the Lords is the most efficient second chamber in the world. It represents a vast pool of specialised knowledge and experience, it works smoothly, it revises legislation well, and, most important, it does not compete with the Commons". He also points out that the appointment of Muslims to the House of Lords is not a constitutional recognition of Islam and that their commitment to Islam in the political field will only be judged by their actions. He emphasises that: " Certainly they are not a recognition of Islam as a religion, because the British Constitution only officially 'recognises' two religions: the Church of England, and, by the Act of Union of 1706, the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. Everybody else exists on a 'level praying field' determined by Common Law and supported by statute".

The Barnsley Star (08.08.98) has a profile of Naz Ahmed. He now has the title of Baron Ahmed of Rotherham. He came to South Yorkshire from Pakistan at the age of 12, unable to speak English. His father was a steel worker and he attended Spurley Hey School and then Thomas Rotherham College. In 1975 he was elected president of the college's student union. About this time, he joined the Labour Party and the Young Socialists. On leaving college, he ran the family retail business, then returned to Kashmir for two years. On returning to Rotherham, he started running his own fish and chip shop and once more became involved in local politics. He explained: " At that time a number of younger people were getting on to the council, and I thought I had a lot to contribute. I had business experience, and I was able to speak for my own community as the council's first Asian member". He is also a founder member of the National Forum of British Asian Councillors, an official of the shop workers union USDAW, a JP, local councillor and a campaigner on behalf of the disputed region of Kashmir. He has promised not to forget his working-class roots: "I shall be what I have always been ... a lad from Rotherham who has managed to get on through hard work and determination. My appointment to the House of Lords was totally unexpected and in some ways I still can't believe it. Who would have thought I would become a lord?" [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 9]

 

Derby meeting

Over 1,000 members of Derby's Pakistani community attended a meeting organised by the Muslim Conference Party of Pakistan to hear about that country's problems. Mohammed Siddique, chair of the Pakistani Community Centre in Harrington Street, said: "Many of us have relatives in Pakistan. Although it is now our second home, we still have loyalties there. It is important for us to keep in touch with issues such as the problems in Kashmir" (Derby Evening Telegraph, 13.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 9/10]

 

Pakistan independence celebration

On 14 August 1998 it was the 51' anniversary of Pakistan and Pakistani Muslim associations in the High Wycombe area (Bucks Free Press, 14.08.98), Keighley (Keighley News, 21.08.98), and Batley (Awaaz, 01.09.98) marked the day in various ways. Rafiq Raja, writing Raja Amir Dad Khan's column in the Bucks Free Press (14.08.98) while the latter is on holiday, explains: "Today, the original Pakistan has split into Pakistan and Bangladesh. The position of Kashmir still demands a solution, democracy has yet to take root and the self-serving political elite lack a vision. However, the ordinary people still have faith in the enterprise and see Pakistan as a gift from God and wish to see it develop and prosper towards the goals for which the country was established in the first place. The Pakistani and Kashmiri people, who have settled in this country for decades, still have fond attachment to Pakistan and wish it to make progress in all spheres of life so that it can proudly take its place among the nation states of the world". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

Nottingham Kashmiris campaign

Kashmiris in Nottingham are campaigning for the city council to recognise them as an ethnic group and to allow the name of their country to appear on official monitoring forms. Mohammed Ishaq, of The Meadows Muslim Action Group, explained: "Kashmir is not independent yet, but it is still an historic country with its own culture and traditions. Muslims in Bradford and Birmingham have managed to persuade their councils but Nottingham refuses to do it. People who come from Kashmir do not want to be referred to as Indians or Pakistanis and the council should recognise this". The leader of Nottingham City Council, Councillor Graham Chapman, maintained that the local Kashmiri community was too small. He said: "It is just a question of numbers and we have to draw the line somewhere. If we did the same for Irish people, Bangladeshis or every minority group in the city, there would be no room for any other information on the forms. Instead, we have a box for people to tick 'other' and ask them to specify their nationality". Mohammed Ishaq pointed out that many other councils, for example, Birmingham, include Kashmiris as a distinct group on their forms (Nottingham Evening Post, 24.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

AI-Muhajiroun meeting

AI-Muhajiroun in Crawley have organised a meeting for the end of August concerning the effects of alcohol and drug abuse on society (Crawley Observer, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

Centre elections

The Crawley Islamic Cultural Centre in Langley Green is to hold elections to decide the new team who will run the centre. They have set up a Committee for Fair Elections to organise voting. The organisers say they hope the elections will signal the start of greater links with other communities in Crawley (Crawley Observer, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

M15 spying claims

Muslim News (28.08.98) has an article concerned with advertisements placed in the Guardian in August by M15 seeking linguists fluent in Arabic, Farsi, Punjabi, Urdu or Turkish. Sher Azam, a Muslim member of the Inner Cities Religious Council, commented: "Muslims are already suffering from Islamophobia and are seen to be a threat to peace. Muslims are not terrorists, Islam is a religion of peace. It is going to give the wrong signal to racists and isolate the Muslim community". Jahangir Mohammed, deputy speaker of the Muslim Parliament, said: "The Muslim community will have to be more alert and aware of the activities of the security services in destabilising Muslim organisations and groups". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

Racism

MEP report rejection

The co-operation of British MEPs with their Socialist colleagues in the rest of Europe which ensured the defeat of a European Parliament report alleging that there was a threat of " Islamic fundamentalist terrorism" in Europe continues to be reported in the press (see BMMS for July 1998). MEPs who opposed the report include: Peter Truscott, MEP for Hertfordshire (Borehamwood & Elstree Times, 30.07.98, Welwyn & Hatfield Herald, 07.08.98); Michael Elliott, representing London West (Brentford, Chiswick & Isleworth Times, 31.07.98); and Bill Miller, MEP for Glasgow (New Local News for Govanhill, Gorbals and Kinning Park, 01.08.98). Writing in his column in the New Local News, "Strasbourg Round Up", Mr Miller says: " The report implied that Muslims in Glasgow and the rest of Britain and Europe were potential terrorists. I agree that we must act together against terrorism but I have seen no evidence of Muslims in Glasgow, or to my knowledge anywhere else in Europe taking part in acts of violence because of their religious beliefs ... The presence of the French National Front and other far right parties represented in the European Parliament, in my opinion, constitutes a much greater threat from the racist far right than from alleged Islamic fundamentalism". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10]

 

French Islamophobia

Q-News (15.08.98) and the Leicester Mercury (31.08.98) both carry reports of the case of a British citizen from Leicester who was refused entry to France because she refused to remove her veil. Ms Farrukh Shaikh was on her way to France in July for a family holiday but was refused entry when she would not lift her veil to show her face. Local Leicester MP Keith Vaz has taken up the case, saying it amounts to the harassment of a person because of her religious beliefs. He said: " I am very pleased that the Government has responded so positively to my call for something to be done. It is totally unacceptable for British citizens to be treated in this way when they are abroad. Customs officials must be aware of and respect the religious sensitivities and traditions of different faiths" (Leicester Mercury, 31.08.98).

Q-News (15.08.98) explains that Ms Shaikh had asked the French authorities that any identity check be performed by a female official, but this was refused. She said: " The whole thing made me feel like I was being discriminated against because I am a Muslim. It was humiliating being escorted by the police like we were criminals to the station and then the ferry". The visit to France was the first time that Ms Shaikh had experienced this type of difficulty. She explained: "I went to Canada last year and there was no problem. Before that I went by road for Umrah and everywhere I went I could rely on female officials to perform the checks" (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 10/11]

 

CRE criticism

Both Q-News (15.08.98) and the Guardian (25.08.98) carry reports that Maqbool Javaid, a leading member of the Society of Black Lawyers and the Society of Muslim Lawyers, has left the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in what Q-News describes as "unclear circumstances". According to both newspapers, there is suspicion amongst Muslims that Maqbool Javaid was unwelcome in the CRE because he is a Muslim activist. Maqbool Javaid has been associated in the past with Omar Bakri Mohammed's group, alMuhajiroun. Massoud Shadjareh, chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, said: "The race industry, headed by the CRE which gets millions of pounds of public money every year, is - on the whole - oppressive and discriminatory. Race organisations and policies have not only ensured that the Muslim community is by-passed in any resource allocation but also made invisible and marginalised" (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Women

Profile of Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, actor, lawyer, entrepreneur and active member of the Scottish Conservatives who is standing for the Scottish Parliament, is profiled in the Scotsman (13.08.98). Ms Ahmed- Sheik, whose mother is a Welsh convert to Islam and whose father is Pakistani, is well-known in Pakistan as a television actor. In a few weeks time she is due to start filming a 13-part drama series for Pakistan Television, called Des Pardes, based on the lives of Pakistani immigrants living in Scotland. She is the principal female lead, has invested in the project and is co-producer along with her husband, Zulfikar Sheikh. The series will be produced in Urdu with English subtitles and Ms Ahmed-Sheik is hoping that it will be shown on television in Britain. She said: "There's a lot of interest in this sort of television over here - Channel Four and BBC2 have both shown drama series in Urdu before. In fact, they proved so popular that they were repeated several times. We are attempting something completely original". Awaaz (01.09.98) reports that: "Filming is due to begin any day now using actors from Pakistan as well as Scottish Asians although there seems to have been some difficulty finding Scottish actors fluent in Urdu. The producers had to put out an appeal on radio and only ten people came forward".

A devout Muslim who tries to pray five times a day, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheik is keen to show that Islam advocates equality of the sexes. She said: "If any Muslim man says that men and women are not equal, he has no idea what Islam is about. Our prophet worked alongside his wife who was a businesswoman and she fought alongside him during battles. Unless you read the Koran for yourself and fully understand the meaning, you are basing your life on what other people tell you what Islam means. The answer to all our questions about the A to Z of life is in the Koran". A theme which will be explored in depth in the drama series Des Pardes is marriage: " There is a world of difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage and many people don't seem to understand that. The Koran says that a woman and a man must both consent to an arranged marriage. If she does not want to get married, that should be the end of if" (Scotsman, 13.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Turkish bride update

Sarah Cook, the 15 year-old Essex girl who married a Turkish waiter when she was 13 (see BMMS for August 1997), has had another baby by another man, her former next door neighbour 17 year-old Antony Dighton. Her first son by Musa Komeagae is called Mohammed (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Miriam Stoppard's advice

Miriam Stoppard, agony aunt in the Mirror (25.08.98), has responded to a letter from a mother who is upset that her daughter, aged 26, has married a Muslim, embraced Islam, and now wears hijab. The mother is no longer talking to her daughter. Miriam Stoppard replied: "Perhaps she realised that marriage and children were not on the agenda unless she converted. If her boyfriend came from a very religious family, perhaps he couldn't think of marrying someone who didn't share his faith, no matter how much in love he might be. Whatever happened, your daughter was faced with a difficult choice, I don't ask you to agree with it, but I do think you have to respect it ... You don't have to be superhuman or pretend you understand and agree with something that's so alien. But you do have to be ready to learn about a whole different way of life. Part of that is accepting the family she's married into - and that includes her husband". Also included are letters from other readers, some from female converts to Islam, all supporting the daughter's choice and asking the mother to accept her choice of husband and faith. [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Batley centre activities

The al-Hikmah Women's Centre in Batley is organising a series of Storysack Workshops, which aim to help mothers to help their children with learning to read, through play and creative activities. The Centre is also about to resume its women-only English classes. For more information contact Zulekhia Loonat on Batley 500555 or 326260 (Awaaz, 01.09.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 11]

 

Interfaith

Christian-Muslim understanding

Following his comments in the press concerning Christian-Muslim relations (see BMMS for July 1998), the Birmingham Post (08.08.98) has now published an on-depth interview with Abdullah Bawhab. Mr Bawhab is a retired accountant and has always been interested in maintaining good relations with people of all faiths. He said: " I was always interested to talk to people but it was about ten or 15 years ago that I started reading and only when I retired that I started working for my PhD'. He was interviewed on many subjects relating to Muslims in Britain, including the question of forced marriages (see BMMS for July 1998). He condemned the practice, saying: "this is ridiculous. In Islam girls are completely free to make up their own mind. A marriage is not complete unless there is free will on both sides. I have two daughters and all I do is to guide them into compatibility and suitability. They make their own choice. Forced marriages have got nothing to do with religion. That's confusing religion with cultural background. Some Muslims are ignorant and they commit crimes but that does not mean that what they do is Islam. If I see a Christian doing something wrong I don't think he's doing something wrong because Christianity teaches it. I think he's doing something wrong which is against his own faith. Sometimes a Muslim does things that are opposed to Islam. It's nonsense and it's sheer ignorance to say that Islam teaches it. It makes me feel hurt and hopeless when I hear that. If we are to improve relations we have to have the self-discipline to stop this stereotyping". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Hospital chapel complaint

Fayaz Ahmed, chair of the Leicester Council of Faiths, claims that the Leicester Royal Infirmary is failing in its duty under the Patients' Charter because of its postponement in providing a place for worship for non-Christians. He said: " The LRI is the only hospital in Leicester not to provide a multi-faith room. Patients are unhappy about it. I was a patient at the hospital and when I prayed the curtains were simply drawn around me. It wasn't private or peaceful. Patients and relatives want a place where they can relax, meditate and pray. This is essential: prayer has a very important role towards healing". The hospital's director of nursing, Professor Irene Scot, admitted that a project for a multi-faith prayer room had been drawn up 18 months ago. Since then, however, at 100,000, it had proved too costly to be carried out. The trust now plans a cheaper scheme, costing under 10,000, which should provide the necessary space for prayer by the end of March 1999. In the meantime, temporary space would be found in individual hospital departments (Leicester Mercury, 17.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Lambeth conference

Muslim News (28.08.98) has a report on the Lambeth Conference of the Church of England which discussed Christian Muslim relations, held in July at Canterbury. According to Muslim News, much of the conference was taken up with discussions of Christian-Muslim relations abroad, in the Middle East, Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt and Pakistan. The journalist, Shenaz Kermalli, interviewed the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir Ali, who claimed that there was no basis in Shari'ah for a law such as Pakistan's Blasphemy Law and it should be abolished. He said: "There is no punishment on earth for apostasy, nor for blasphemy. Innocent people are charged under the Blasphemy Law in Pakistan". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Halal

Slaughter method defence

David Pidcock, a Muslim member of the Institute for Rational Economics, Storth Lane, Sheffield, has written to the Retford Times (13.08.98) in defence of halal slaughter. His letter is partly a response to Fiona Jones MP and Councillor David Otter of Retford, who opposed the supply of halal meat to all prisoners, whether Muslim or not, in some prisons (see BMMS for April and May 1998). He writes: "As a former butcher and meat wholesaler I have witnessed most, if not all methods of animal slaughter around the world and can confirm that there are still a few good Halal and Kosher practitioners but not nearly enough to meet the growing necessity for all animals to be killed with kindness". On the matter of pre-stunning, he writes: " The question which surely must be asked, and answered convincingly by those who favour the captive bolt and electrical stunning method, is surely this: Though you may have rendered the animal inactive, have you at the same time rendered it insensible to pain and suffering? Even though immobilised, many people feel every cut of the surgeon's knife during routine operations whilst appearing to be anaesthetised. Looks, we can see, are deceiving". An article in the same edition of the Retford Times (13.08.98) elaborates David Pidcock's views, in which he claims that: "...captive bolt and electrical stunning - which, like so much else, was introduced purely on economic grounds, to speed up kill and processing times". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Health

Muslim chaplain

Yunus Dudhwala has been appointed as a Muslim chaplain at Newham General Hospital, to work side-by-side with the Anglican chaplain, lan McDowell. Imam Dudhwala said: " I feel there was a great need to have a Muslim imam at Newham General Hospital. It was important to represent patients from what is a large ethnic minority in the borough, and this is the appropriate step to take". The Rev Ian McDowell said: " I think working alongside Yunus is one of the most fascinating parts of my job. Our pairing has brought attention, but I have yet to hear of any negative comments over it. It is fairly unique - but not totally. The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel already has an Anglican priest and an Imam working side-by-side. Working in this way means respecting each other's faiths, which we have done, without necessarily compromising our own views" (City of London Recorder, 21.08.98)  [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 12]

 

Dobson acknowledgement

 At the recent gathering of the International Institute of Islamic Medicine in Birmingham, which focussed on the history of Islamic medicine, Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, paid tribute to the Islamic contribution to world civilization. The Health Secretary talked about the historic legacy of Islam, particularly the medical advances made in Islamic Spain before the reconquest and about the contribution of Muslim doctors to Britain's National Health Service. He concluded his speech by saying: " I am not a person of any religious belief at all, but I encourage people to stick to their ethical standards" (Muslim News, 28.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Employment

Prayer at work campaign

Abu Asad Choudhury, of the Longholme Mosque in Rawenstall, told the Rossendale Free Press (14.08.98) that he was confident of the eventual success of a campaign to allow Muslim employees time for prayers whilst at work. He said talks were taking place between the Union of Muslim Organisations and the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on the question. He said: " All we're talking about is a maximum 15-minute break for prayer in the morning and afternoon. Hopefully from now on more employers in Rossendale will know about this right and allow it to take place" [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Bradford case success

Q-News (15.08.98) and Muslim News (28.08.98) carry similar reports on the case of the four young Muslim women who won their case against Yorkshire Envelopes in Bradford (see BMMS for July 1998). Shabnum, Sharif, 18, Naheed Akhtar, 19 and 21 year-old twins Asma and Saima Nazir were awarded a total of almost 50,000 in compensation for racial discrimination, which included not being allowed to celebrate Eid and racist and anti-Muslim taunts from supervisors. Awarding the damages, 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 the respondent set out to smear the applicants" (Q-News, 15.08.98, Muslim News, 28.08.98). Speaking after the hearing, Shabnum Sharif said: " I'm glad we won and I hope Yorkshire Envelopes realise they can't get away with this sort of thing. No-one should be allowed to get away with discriminating against people". Naheed Akhtar added: "Yorkshire Envelopes got what they deserved. I was really hurt by the lies they told about us but I'm pleased they were found out in the end. It serves them right' (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Northampton unfair dismissal

The Islamic-Pakistani Community Centre in Northampton has been order to pay 6,500 in compensation to Abdul Haleem for unfair dismissal (see BMMS for July 1998). Mr Haleem is also to be awarded a redundancy payment, but this is to be reduced by 40 per cent because the tribunal ruled that Mr Haleem had contributed to his own dismissal. Mr Haleem said: " I would have been happy with 1 in compensation because it would show that I was unfairly treated". (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Mosques & Burials

Bangor burials

Space for up to 80 Muslim graves has been allocated in Bangor's New Cemetery (see BMMS for June 1998). The council estimated that this would be sufficient for the next 15 to 20 years (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Barking, Victoria Rd

Members of Barking's planning subcommittee have met to reconsider the issue of planning permission for an extension to Barking Mosque, where there are already concerns about parking problems (see BMMS for June and July 1998). The Barking Muslim Association is suggesting that parking restrictions around the mosque could be relaxed for the busy two-hour prayer times on Fridays and are proposing to have a car park with 47 spaces rather than the original 36 (Barking & Dagenham Post, 29.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Birmingham burials

The Birmingham Evening Mail (10.08.98) and the Black Country Evening Mail (10.08.98) carry a report on the establishment of what is claimed to be Birmingham's fist Muslim funeral parlour. It will be situated in the Jamia Mosque in Golden Hillock Road in Small Heath. The scheme is currently managed by the Co-Enterprise Birmingham Agency, which supports community enterprises in the city. The Co-Enterprise co-ordinator for Saltley and Small Heath, Saddique Hussain, said: "At present no funeral service caters for the complex religious rites and cultural needs of the Muslim community. This new service will be able to fulfil those needs as well as offering support to families by allowing them to mourn and pray near their loved ones at all hours". He pointed out that the service would be linked with the area's anti-poverty strategy and also that there would be a sliding scale of charges. He added: " We hope eventually to make the service self-sustaining although in the meantime we will be looking for additional funding to get the project off the group". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Birmingham, Fosbrooke Road

A government planning officer, Paul Garnham, has supported the continuing use of a former bank in Fosbrooke Road as a mosque (see BMMS for July 1998), in spite of finding that there was traffic inconvenience caused to residents. People living near the Qamarul Mosque also claimed there was noise nuisance, but the inspector found insufficient evidence of this. The inquiry was instituted after the mosque's owner, Hafiz Muhammad Farooq Shah, claimed the council was trying to close it down. If the council decides to appeal against the central government planning officer's decision, it must lodge its objections with the High Court within six weeks (Solihull Evening Mail, 20.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13]

 

Bradford, Manningham Lane

The Minhaj-Ul-Qur'an group has purchased a former Bradford pub and strip joint for 160,000 with a view to turning it into a mosque and education and community centre. Councillor Shaukat Ahmed (Labour, University Ward) commented: "The pub has been for sale for some time and I was concerned it would be left unsold and become derelict. I am happy for the building to be used for a viable purpose" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 31.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 13/14]

 

Brighton

Q-News reports on the opening of the new mosque in Brighton, in a former car showrooms. Although the interior is not yet completed, the mosque is being used for prayers. Nasim Khan, chair of the mosque committee, pointed out that the Brighton community was a very heterogeneous one which was growing fast. He said that students had settled in the town and that " the community is growing and thriving and has changed a lot in the past 10 years ... A lot of people have inter-married and now we have the second generation going to school". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Chingford, Chingford Mount Rd

A former Salvation Army building in Chingford Mount Road could become a mosque. Originally, there was uncertainty as to whether the group of local Muslims who now wish to purchase the hall could afford to do so. The other contender for the site is the adjacent Park View Healthcare old people's home, who wish to expand their facilities (Chingford Guardian, 13.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Clitheroe, Hoiden St

Muslims in Clitheroe are appealing against the council's refusal of planning permission to convert the Islamic Centre in Holden Street into a mosque (see BMMS for May, June and July 1998). Farooq Hussain, speaking on behalf of the scheme's proposers, said: "Whatever the options for the site we would have come up with, we feel the council would have found some reason to reject them. Other developments in that part of town, like Tesco and the Hoiden Street veterinary surgery, have been given the go-ahead. Have they not increased traffic and parking problems in the area? We have been trying to get planning permission for a mosque here for over 21 years. Every other town in North East Lancashire with an Asian community has one, so why shouldn't we have one? It's part of our identity" (Clitheroe Advertiser, 06.08.98). The Clitheroe Advertiser (13.08.98) carries an interview with three members of the mosque committee, Sarfraz Arshad, Zulfiqar Hussein and Mohammed Arshad, in which they express their disappointment with the council's decision and their determination to have a mosque in Clitheroe. Sarfraz Arshad -pointed out that there was a large housing development being built next to the Holden Street Islamic Education Centre and said: " Isn't that going to cause extra traffic, parking problems and noise? Councillors said they would help us find an alternative site for a mosque, but we have discovered that we have not been welcome everywhere. We do not like to accuse anyone of being racist, but at the end of the day we are beginning to feel discriminated against". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Crawley, Broadwood Rise

The mosque in Broadwood Rise, Broadfield, held its first open day since opening two years ago (see BMMS for April 1998). Mosque member Javed Quazi explained: "While many people have seen it from the outside, very few have been shown the inside. There have also been problems with car parking outside the mosque so this will allow local residents to see what goes on inside the building" (Crawley Observer, 05.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Crewe, Walthall St

Temporary planning permission for the mosque and madrasa at 145 Walthall Street Crewe, has not been renewed, because councillors were worried about traffic and parking problems. This is in spite of a recommendation by planning officers that permission should be given and no complaints having been received from neighbours. Mary Vyse, who lives next door to the mosque, said: "I don't have any complaints. I never hear any noise, apart from children singing occasionally - and you can't stop people singing hymns. It's a shame they've got to move". The worshippers at the mosque are appealing against the refusal of planning permission (Sentinel, 27.08.98). At a previous planning committee meeting, Crewe councillors were told that as many as 70 people at a time were using a two-bed roomed terrace house in Walthall Street as a mosque. When temporary planning permission was originally granted, residents and councillors were assured that there would be no more than seven worshippers at a time. Councillor June Roberts said: " We were originally told it would only be used by seven people. The survey [by a council officer] counted 22 people, but unfortunately the person doing the survey was stood there reading a newspaper and was quite obvious ... If 70 or more people are worshipping in a two-bed roomed terraced house, what are the fire regulations. People panic in those circumstances and we could have a major incident. Fortunately their worship leans more towards meditation rather than the louder form of chanting" (Crewe Chronicle, 05.08.98). Abdul Bosar, a regular worshipper at the Walthall Street mosque had told the Crewe Chronicle (06.08.98): " We explained to the authorities that we are a minority people living in Crewe and we need a prayer house. To say that there are 70 people in the mosque is untrue. There are only 30 or 40 including the children, and they live within walking distance. We are deeply desperate to pray in this mosque. There is nowhere else to go. Not everyone is religious but the people who are need somewhere to pray. We are very, very upset". [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Gateshead burials

Gateshead Council has introduced a pilot scheme whereby Muslims will be able to bury their deceased as soon as possible after death, even including at weekends and public holidays (see BMMS for June 1998). The decision came after consultation with the Gateshead Visible Ethnic Minorities Support Group. The pilot scheme will run for one year initially (Q-News, 15.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14]

 

Harrow, Station Rd

Harrow Central Mosque has suffered a further setback in its attempt to buy an adjacent property for expansion and to build low-cost housing (see BMMS for July 1998). Mosque trustee llyas Khan explained: "For the last four years we have been trying to get hold of this property, and an agreement with the agent was made when our offer reached 1 million. I have their acceptance of this offer in writing on unconditional terms. Now they are accepting the conditional offer of 1.2 million, subject to planning permission, from a housing association". He went on to point out the need for expansion: "Last week we had to turn away more than 100 worshippers from Harrow, Kilburn, Queensbury, Hendon and other areas. We simply could not take any more people in. We had people praying on the roof, in the back garden, in the corridor". Tony Loughran, spokesperson for the property agents Gooch Webster, said: "We have received a whole range of offers, and that from the mosque did not meet the other, unconditional ones. We cannot sell the property to the mosque when we are able to get quicker funds from elsewhere" (Pinner Times, Harrow, Stanmore, Kingsbury Times, 13.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 14/15]

 

Haslingden burials

Members of the Masjid-E-Bilal mosque complained that they had to walk too far to reach the graves in the Muslim part of Haslingden Cemetery and offered to install a new gate themselves (see BMMS for August 1997). Councillors have agreed to a 3,000 scheme which will be funded and organised by the mosque and Rossendale Groundwork jointly. Arthur Marriott, Rossendale Council Leisure Officer, said: "The Muslim part of the cemetery is at the far end. It makes it far easier just to put a new pedestrian gate in". The work will feature new seating and shrubs (Rossendale Free Press, 21.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Keighley, Emily St

On 21 August plans were submitted to Bradford Council for a new mosque on the site of the existing Jamia Mosque in Emily Street, Keighley. The project is expected to cost over 500,000 which will be raised within the local community. There will be access for women and people with disabilities, and a mortuary area. Keighley Mosque Association's press secretary, Javed Bashir, said: " We desperately need these bigger premises. At present we can accommodate about 800 but at busy times - such as Friday prayers and during Ramadan - there are problems. We have people praying in corridors and on the stairs. Our intention is to reshape the mosque and extend into the car park. It will greatly improve the facilities and mean we can welcome women. The new building will be very attractive and will enhance that area of town" (Keighley News, 21.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Leicester

Councillors in Leicester have agreed to sell land to three religious groups, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, to build places of worship on the same site (see BMMS for July 1998). The council meeting set the following conditions: the groups must obtain planning permission and deal with traffic concerns; they will buy the land for half the market value of 1.5 million, or the cost of building road and sewer connections, whichever is the highest; they agree to sell the land back to the council for as little as 1 if the development does not take place within a set period (Leicester Mercury, 19.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Little Horton, Horton Park Avenue

Bradford Council has received an application for planning permission to build a mosque and community centre on land at Horton Park Avenue. The application is from the Suffa-Tul-Islam group based in Sunnybridge Road (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 02.09.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

London, Whitechapel, East London Mosque

On August 8 and 9 in the afternoon, the East London Mosque in Whitechapel planned to hold an open day, with displays on Islamic art and culture and educational materials (see BMMS for January and March 1998). Videos, information stalls and guided tours of the mosques were also scheduled (East End Life, 03.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Oldham, Shaw, Margaret Street

Proposals for a mosque in a converted house in Margaret Street, Shaw, Oldham, have been rejected by the Shaw and Crompton Parish Council (see BMMS for July 1998). The grounds for refusal were concerns over increased traffic. Tofozul Hussain, spokesperson for the Muhammadia Mosque Committee, responded: "There will be no increase in cars because most people will be travelling from within a five-minute walking distance. At the moment we have to travel to Rochdale or Oldham for prayer which is inconvenient for elderly folk. But a mosque in Shaw would solve these problems without creating huge traffic numbers because there will only be between 15 and 30 people using the building" (Rochdale Observer, 08.08.98). Speaking for the applicants, Mr Hussain said they were disappointed but would try to find another site. He added: "We will have a meeting for the Bangladeshi community to discuss a new site because it is clear we need a mosque. Hopefully a viable site will be found in Shaw and the councillors will allow us to have the mosque we need" (Rochdale Observer, 19.08.98).

 

Oxford, Manzil Way

Although Oxford City Council gave planning permission for the building of a new mosque in Manzil Way, off the Cowley Road, over eighteen months ago, they are now delaying the start of building work, because of concerns that there may be insufficient funds to finish the project. Richard Giles, head of the council's property division, said: "The project may be delayed by about a month until we iron out the terms of our agreement. It is in no-one's interest for the mosque to be half-built and we need clarification to ensure that sufficient money is in place". Mosque society treasurer Fazal Hussain said: " We are very optimistic that once we have held further talks with the council, the project will be able to go ahead. We are aiming to have enough funding to be able to complete phase two of the building, which would guarantee the complete shell of the building going up" (Oxford Mail, 17.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 15]

 

Reading, Oxford Road

Architects have drawn up plans for a mosque on the site of redundant facilities at the Battle Hospital in Oxford Road, Reading. At present, the Muslim community of west Reading worships in a converted two-bedroomed house in Valentia Road. Discussions have begun between the mosque committee, Reading Borough Council and the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust (Reading Evening Post, South Oxfordshire Chronicle, 07.08.98). Meanwhile, Muslim families in Reading have pledged between 500 and 1,000 each to build the mosque. It would also be an Islamic Cultural Centre which would include a nursery, youth club, elderly lunch clubs, and space for educational facilities. Manzoor Hussain of the Reading Muslim Action Group said: " It is not just going to be a mosque. It will be more like a cultural community centre offering services for the Muslim community and for the general public" (Reading Evening Post, 01.09.98). The right wing British National Party (BNP) has begun organising in Reading, using the plans for the new mosque as a reason to distribute thousands of leaflets in the town. Fakral Hussain, secretary of the mosque project, said of the BNP: " It seems as though they [the BNPI are putting a political front on it. It is their prerogative. Likewise it is our prerogative to apply for a place of worship. Why should they have a cause to object. It is not a political movement, all somebody is asking for is a place of worship". A town councillor for the area, Ron Passingham, commented: "It is very upsetting that the BNP is around. I hope the people of Smallwood have no truck with them" (Reading Evening Post, 19.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Redditch, Smallwood

Local Christian clergy are supporting plans to build a mosque on the abandoned Alcad battery factory site in Smallwood, Redditch (see BMMS July 1998). In a joint statement, ministers from the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Baptists and Methodists, say that they hope the plan will be welcomed "by unprejudiced people as a significant improvement to the (Alcad) site. And if all people could treat any call to prayer as a call for a short moment of reflection, thanksgiving, and commitment to serve our neighbours, then everyone could benefit' (Redditch Standard 31.07.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Southall, Abu Bakr Trust

The Abu Bakr mosque group is continuing to use former office premises in Southall Broadway as a mosque, even though they do not have planning permission (see BMMS for January, March, April and July 1998). The secretary of the Abu Bakr Mosque Trust, Abdul Shahid, said: " We feel we are being deprived of our basic right to a permanent place of worship. We want to be treated on an equal basis with Sikhs and Hindus, who have temples which are not always in the most suitable places either". The mosque committee has embarked on an appeal process against this latest refusal of planning permission. The leader of the council, John Cudmore, said: "I have great sympathy with them and continue to be happy to talk to them about a possible solution to this problem" (Southall Gazette, 21.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Southall, Montague Way

The Central Jamia Mosque has been granted planning permission to expand its space used for worship. There was only one formal objection (Southall Gazette, 14.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 16]

 

Tipton, Wellington Road

Tipton Muslim Trust Association has applied for planning permission to continue to use a terraced house as an improvised mosque until their new mosque in Wellington Road is built (Sandwell Chronicle, 21.08.98, Birmingham Express & Star, 26.08.98, Wolverhampton Express & Star, 02.09.98). Sandwell development services director Malcolm Hinks said: " I consider that a further temporary permission would be appropriate. The existing end-terrace building is not suitable for a mosque because of its size, lack of parking space and proximity of other residential properties" (Birmingham Express & Star, 26.08.98). [BMMS August 1998 Vol. VI, No. 8, p. 16]

 

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