British Muslims Monthly Survey for July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7

 

 

Contents

 

 

Features

Mawlid an-Nabi 

Annan visits Oxford centre 

Delays in appointing Muslim "chaplains" 

Forced marriages (cont.) 

 

 

Reports

 

Community

Yemen update 

£300,000 centre opens 

Tyres feared as fire hazard 

Profile of Harrow Islamic Society 

Murder inquiry investigation 

Police investigate hate mail 

Family try to board coffin on plane 

Melvyn Leach interview 

Mosques to fight crime in Batley 

Appeal for foster parents 

Centre hosts Palestinian exchange 

Mosque member faces jail sentence 

Police hunt fake charity collector 

Tahir Mohsin profile 

Sutton community mourns murder 

Money raised for cancer research

Kosovo update 

Madrasa teacher jailed 

Sheffield centre given permission 

Grant for Muslim association 

Islamic banking on the Net 

Supermarket chain success 

Row over Islamic centre 

Arson attack on Bury centre 

Woking Mela 

Burglars steal parrots 

Boxer signs for cricket team 

MCB annual general meeting

Seminar on the world of work 

Double honours for Bashir Maan 

Marathon runner raises money for mosque 

 

 

Education

School mosque visit 

Newsletter tells parents to boycott state schools 

Move for Walsall girls’ school 

Arson attack on training college 

Degree success 

Too much time at mosque for children 

Travelling Islam exhibition 

School’s lessons in Islam 

Girls’ school plan in Blackburn 

School to open in Glasgow 

 

 

Politics

Question Time at House of Lords 

More ‘ethnic minority’ positions in Civil Service 

 

 

Racism

Sergeant in discrimination case promoted 

 

 

Women

Health advice for women 

Report gives voice to Pakistani women 

Domestic violence 

Women only swimming session agreed 

 

 

Interfaith

Interfaith gathering at Leicester 

Invitation to Islam 

Exchange scheme for teenagers 

 

 

Halal

Halal World plans £3m float 

 

 

Health

Organ donor controversy 

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Batley, Bromley St 

Blackpool 

Bradford burials 

Derby, Rosehill St 

Dundee, Hilltown 

Hainault, London burials 

High Wycombe, Rutland Ave 

Morden, London Rd 

Redditch, Smallwood 

Southampton, St Mary’s Rd 

Tooting, Upper Tooting Rd 

 

Features

Mawlid an-Nabi

Many more articles have appeared commenting on the various celebrations that have been held across the country to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad (See British Muslims Monthly Survey for June 1999). In Nelson, around 2,000 people filled the streets, despite heavy rain. Co-ordinator of the march, Mahboob Ahmed, said: "This is the fourth time we have held the celebration in Nelson. It is a peaceful friendship walk to show our love of the community and to bring health and prosperity to everyone by celebrating the birth of the Holy Prophet. We have Islamic scholars from all over the country, Europe and Asia taking part and we are handing out leaflets to people watching to explain the significance of the parade" (Burnley Citizen, 01.07.99). Around a thousand people joined an hour-long march in Halifax. Organisers of the event said it had been an enjoyable and peaceful event. One organiser, Mohammed Asghar, said: "We all thought it went very well and everyone I have spoken to has said they enjoyed it. We had a note of thanks for the police at the end of the march and the way they handled the whole afternoon." Fireworks were also lit as part of the celebrations (Halifax Evening Courier, 03.07.99). One of the biggest marches in the country was held in Bolton, where over 3,000 members of Bolton’s Muslim community walked the streets, joined by Muslims from other parts of the world who had come for the event. Organiser Sufi Mushtaq said: "It was very pleasing to be able to present the peaceful and friendly side of Islam" (Bolton Evening News, 15.07.99). Thousands were also said to have marched in Leyton and Walthamstow, where many of the people had come attracted by the fact that the procession was headed by Pir Syed Abdul Kadir Jilani, who has recently become the imam of the mosque. Mr Jilani recently hit the headlines when the News of the World claimed that he was wanted by the police in connection with the attempted abduction of his daughter, claims the mosque committee have denied (See BMMS for June 1999). Some of Mr Jilani’s followers came from as far as Denmark, Holland and Norway for the event (Leyton Guardian, 08.07.99). Celebrations were held in many other cities around the country, with hundreds of people marching in High Wycombe, Luton and Burton (Bucks Free Press, 02.07.99, Luton Herald & Post, 01.07.99, Burton Mail, 13.07.99). Meanwhile, Q News (No308, 01.07.99) contains some articles dedicated to this special event, including one written by the editor, Fuad Nahdi, which appeared in The Independent on June 19. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 1]

 

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Annan visits Oxford centre

The UN General-Secretary, Kofi Annan, addressed the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies on June 28. Dignitaries and statesmen who have previously spoken at the centre have included Prince Charles and Nelson Mandela. A near full-house packed the Sheldonian Theatre to hear Mr Annan speak on the global imperative of a "dialogue between civilisations." Mr Annan told the audience that as a result of Western expansion, and the improvements in transport and communications which have followed, the peoples of the world are now much more closely interconnected than they used to be, which has prompted the discussion of a "clash of civilisations," a prediction first outlined by Samuel Huntington in 1993. He said: "Professor Huntington was right to point out that, with the end of the cold war, we are passing into a phase where there is no longer a clearcut global conflict between ideologies, such as socialism and liberalism. Instead there are conflicts between identities, where the issue is not so much what you believe as what you are. But is it right to see these conflicts as happening between different "civilisations"? I am not so sure. Sometimes the groups in conflict have very similar cultures." Emphasising the need for cultural diversity at a local level Mr Annan admitted being influenced by the Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, whom he mentioned three times in his speech. Quoting President Khatami, he said dialogue was necessary for "the enhancement of civility, whether at national or international level," adding, "It must be a dialogue of mutual respect. The aim is not to eliminate differences between human beings, but to preserve and even celebrate them as a source of joy and strength. That is the work ethic that we need: a framework of shared values – a sense of our common humanity – within which differnt traditions can coexist." At the suggestion of Ayatollah Khatami, the United Nations has adopted 2001 as the year of "dialogue amongst civilisaions." Kofi Annan was on a five day visit to Britain which also took in an audience with the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and a speech to the UK National AIDS Trust. The speech is printed in full in Q News (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 1/2]

 

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Delays In Appointing Muslim ‘Chaplains’

The establishment of a nominating authority that will appoint imams and standardise religious provision to Muslim inmates is being delayed by the opposition of the Muslim Council of Britain. The MCB is objecting to the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC) continung to perform the role. It has been suggested that at a recent meeting between the Chaplaincy Service and Muslim service providers, Imam Abdul-Jalil Sajid, chairman of the MCB’s social and welfare committee, objected to a plan for the ICC to fill the role of service providers while the Muslim community agreed on a more permanent way to fill the post. The ICC has found itself taking on the role of consultant and service provider to HM Prison Service, providing imams, halal food in Ramadan and negotiating for prayer facilities inside England and Wales’ 135 prisons for many years. It was during these years that the ICC put pressure on the government, which resulted in two key appointments; a Muslim Advisor and a nominating authority. The ICC has traditionally been the first point of contact for the prison authorities. Despite repeated calls, Q News has not been able to find out why the MCB is opposed to this proposal (Q News, No308, 01.07.99).

The Islamic Cultural Centre - London’s Central Mosque - held an Open Day on June 15 for prison staff and governors involved in providing services to Muslim inmates. The Deputy Director of the Islamic Cultural Centre, Dr Salah Kanawi, made the welcoming address, emphasising the need for prison staff to have a "willingness and interest to help" those Muslims in prison. The Imam of the Central Mosque, Imam El-Sherkawy, explained the basic principles of Islam to those present, highlighting the importance of ensuring that the inmates were allowed to say their daily prayers on time, were given halal food to eat, and were provided with enough space for Jum’a prayers. There were also concerns about strip-searching which is a common practice in prisons but is forbidden in Islam. Bashir Ebrahim Khan, Prison Affairs Co-ordinator if the ICC, spoke about his fears of the increasing Muslim population in prisons, why so many Muslims were going to prison, and also the difficulties facing imams who go to visit the prisons. He said: "The existing arrangement of ‘voluntarism’ is not conducive; it is very important that the Imams deal with a central organisation." He ended by saying that the recruitment of more ethnic minority prison staff, especially in places like Birmingham where there is a large population of Muslims in prison, would be beneficial for helping Muslim inmates in the future (Muslim News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 2]

 

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Forced marriages (cont.)

The Sunday Times (11.07.99) carries an article about a film ‘Forced Marriages’ which was shown on BBC2’s Newsnight on July 12. It focuses on a 27-year old woman called Razia, whose husband left her in Pakistan and himself took a second wife. She is now appealing to the British High Commission in Pakistan to stop her husband bringing the second wife to Britain. She said: "I am afraid that he will use my identity papers to pretend she is me. We girls are made to work hard by our parents to bring these men into the country, but as soon as they marry us and get a British passport, they dump us and go back to Pakistan to get another wife." The problem has worsened since the abolition of the "primary purpose" rule by the Labour government. Under this system, officials could ask couples intimate questions about each other to determine whether the primary purpose of the visa application was a marriage of convenience or one based on true love. However, it was scrapped by Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, who called it "a pernicious rule which penalised genuine marriages, divided families and unnecessarily increased the administration of the immigration system." In 1996, there were 1,960 applications for entry to Britain from would-be husbands. In 1998, after the law was changed, the number of applications rose to 5,080. Back in Bradford, her home town, Razia is the inspiration behind Our Voice, a self help group set up by women in the area campaigning against abusive husbands and the growing number of forced marriages in the Muslim community. Most women attending meetings do so in secret for fear of their ‘brothers’ finding out. The film also contacts one of the most prominent bounty hunters employed by families to track down wayward daughters and wives. Ahmed (a name he says he only uses with strangers) says he prefers to call himself a "community mediator," saying he tries to help girls when he takes them back to their family homes by persuading their families not to kill them. However, most girls refute these so-called sensitive mediators saying they would do anything for the money.

The Bradford Telegraph & Argus (13.07.99) reports that as part of a new national campaign against forced marriages, the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain has branded these kinds of marriages as "rape" (See BMMS for February, May and June 1999). Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, leader of the Muslim Parliament, said: "Marriage is a social contract in Islam and cannot be made under duress or without the freely given consent of both parties. Forced marriages are therefore null and void, sex within such a marriage is rape and it is logical to conclude that children born of such a forced relationship are illegitimate in Islamic law." Keighley MP Ann Cryer, who has raised the issue with ministers, welcomed Dr Siddiqui’s stand. She said: "I am delighted with this development and am just hoping that this message will come out in Bradford and Keighley especially through the mosques. I hope the imams will take up this call, discourage forced marriages and encourage the participation of young men and women in arranging what is a life-long commitment." The Muslim Parliament will be hosting seminars over the next few months to encourage and lead debates both inside and outside the Muslim community on the issue. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 2/3]

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Reports

 

Community

Yemen update

A plea by the family of one of the British men detained in Yemen was rejected by the Court of Appeal in London on July 9 (See BMMS for January, February, March and April 1999). The family of Shahid Butt were disappointed by the Court’s ruling that the British Government could not be ordered to make representations to the Yemeni authorities on the unfairness of the trial. The family claim that there has been gross injustice during the trial in Yemen, and want the Foreign Office to make representation to the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, that the flawed trial should be halted and a retrial should be ordered before the verdict is given. Mr Justice Lightman, during the application by the family for a judicial review at the High Court in June, said that it was "quite inappropriate for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to interfere in the conduct of the trial and any action taken by the FCO in respect of the fairness of trial must await the outcome of the trial and the exhaustion of all avenues of appeal." The judge ruled that the courts "should not interfere in the conduct of foreign relations" of the Government, "most particularly where such interference is likely to have foreign policy repercussions." The lawyer for Shahid Butt, Natalia Garcia, said: "It seems that the court is unwilling to take on board the human rights aspect of this case and sheltered behind the idea that it cannot intervene in Foreign Office affairs. We feel it is the simple obligation for the Court to tell the Foreign Office to do its job properly when it is not doing so." She added: "We are not asking the Government to interfere in the internal affairs in Yemen. We are simply asking for the Yemeni Government to follow the international treaties that they have signed and for the Foreign Secretary to meet the President of Yemen on a solely political basis." The five British men were arrested in Yemen on December 24, with three other British citizens arrested on January 27, and are facing trial on terrorist charges in connection with plans to blow up several targets in Yemen, including the British Consulate and an international hotel. All the men deny the charges and claim the confessions they gave were extracted by the Yemeni authorities under duress, and have continually repeated claims of torture. The trial has been under continual controversy since it began, with the Yemeni authorities delaying access to lawyers and the independent doctors asked to be brought in to investigate the allegations of torture, as well as there being inconsistencies in the way the trial has run. If found guilty the men face prison sentences of up to ten years (Muslim News, 23.07.99) [Responses to the verdict which came in early August will be covered in the next issue of BMMS]. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 3]

 

 

£300,000 centre opens

A new community centre has opened in Forest Gate, which will provide women’s education, fitness and mediation programmes (See BMMS for May 1999). But the official opening has been put on hold until the celebrity booked for the occasion is available. Centre Co-ordinator, Ajmal Masroor, said: "There are many organisations for Muslim men but none for women until now." Facilities at the centre include a gymtype cardio-vascular fitness room, a computer room and a crèche. Activities at the centre are to include language classes, skills training, employment advice and cookery lessons. The official opening date is yet to be announced, but the name of the guest of honour is being kept secret (Docklands Express, 03.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 3]

 

 

Tyres feared as fire hazard

The Muslim community in Woolwich says an ugly mountain of old car tyres dumped next to their mosque is a potentially deadly fire hazard. The stacks of tyres next to the mosque in Plumstead Road have accumulated since motor dealers set-up in the area and fly-tippers began using the site as a dump. Mosque member Ahmad Coowngu said: "These tyres are not only an unpleasant eyesore, but also pose a serious fire risk to the local community. The burning rubber can produce thick, noxious fumes which would affect the local railway, the ferry, roads, homes and businesses, and can be very difficult to extinguish. There have already been a couple of fires apparently started by children at waste ground to the rear and we are very concerned about the tyres catching light." He added: "We know this land is owned by Greenwich Council because the mosque management committee is trying to purchase it from them, so we hope the council will be able to help" (Greenwich Borough Mercury, 23.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 3]

 

Profile of Harrow Islamic Society

The Harrow, Stanmore & Kingsbury Times (24.06.99) has a profile of the Islamic and Cultural Society of Harrow, which was set up six years ago. It has 260 paid-up members, which include Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis and Arabs. Among the many cultural activities the society hold are included Qur’anic recital classes, Urdu and Islamic Studies, held at Harrow High School on Saturdays. They teach about 60 children and have recently introduced tuition in GCSE subjects like physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics. The society also organises 10 functions each year from the growing Muslim community in Harrow, which currently has more than 7,000 families. The society recently donated £6,500 to help the building of a new mosque which will take three years to build, and have actively been raising money to help the Kosovo refugees. Mohammed Rizvi, chairman of the society, says one of their aims is to help the refugees coming to this country. He said: "We must provide them welfare, health and get them jobs. We are trying to set up a team of volunteers that would take these people to places like doctor’s surgeries if need be." A grand charity bazaar was to be held to raise money, and thousands were expected to attend. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 3/4]

 

 

Murder inquiry investigation

The death of an 18-year college student in Lancashire, whose killers were given light sentences, have angered the local Muslim community who have accused the police of racism. Sajjad Mahmood’s battered body was found in a local fishing lake in April last year, and three local drug dealers were convicted in connection with his killing this May. However, the circumstances leading up to the recovery of Sajjad’s body and the trial have led to protests from his family who have serious questions about the way the police handled the inquiry. Two days after Sajjad failed to return home, his mother reported him missing to the police. After speaking to friends and relatives she was convinced some harm had come to him and that his body was lying in the lake next to a supermarket. He was last spotted going into a house used by drug dealers from where neighbours said they heard piercing screams. Still, the police seemed to show no interest, and even suggested that he had run away to avoid an arranged marriage in Pakistan. It was only when a fire at the drug dealers’ house was identified as a deliberate arson attempt, and one of the tenants, James Butler, disappeared, that police suspicions were sufficiently aroused to send a team of divers to search the lake. Sajjad’s father, Arshad Mahmood, said: "His body was in such a state that I could not allow my wife to see it. This is the biggest crime committed by the police. In our culture, there are three occasions when people have to be seen: when they are born, when they are married, and when they die." James Butler was given a 10 year sentence for killing Sajjid and other drug offences. His colleagues, Karl Barton and Wayne Kelly, both got six years for grievous bodily harm and conspiracy to supply drugs. Mr Mahmood said: "The defence demolished the prosecution’s case. They had nothing to go on whatsoever. Our hopes were raised only to be dashed. British justice is not justice, it is just a joke." The police have now been forced to refer the matter to its internal investigative organ, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA). The PCA will examine the delay between the first report of Sajjad’s disappearance and the fire at the house, now known to have been started in order to destroy vital evidence in relation to the murder. In court, this failure proved the prosecution’s undoing, even on the lesser charges of manslaughter it tried to pin on Butler’s associates. The inquiry will also look at why the police failed to act sooner despite repeated requests by the Mahmood family and witnesses. Mr Mahmood is not expecting any miracles from the PCA. He said: "I don’t think we are going to be any wiser after the inquiry because the police are investigating their own. What I would like to have is a positive response when people like us go to the police, not for them to dismiss us as Pakis. This is a public service. We pay for it just like everybody else and we ought to be taken seriously when we call on it. It is an emergency service. We cannot afford any complacency" (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 4]

 

 

Police investigate hate mail

Members of Al-Muhajiroun in Southall have targeted two prominent Sikhs who they believe are holding up plans for a new mosque in the area’s main shopping street. Hate mail has been sent to restaurant owner Harbans Sandhu and Councillor Manjit Mahal, who have both previously objected to plans submitted by the Abu Bakr Mosque Trust to convert a multi-storey house into a mosque. Police are investigating the mail and carrying out DNA tests on the envelopes which bear a Harrow postmark. But the Abu Bakr Mosque Trust, which denies any involvement with Al-Muhajiroun, has accused them of fabricating the letters. The Trust is hopeful that its revised plan will receive approval from Ealing Council (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 4]

 

 

Family try to board coffin on plane

British Airways has told how a Pakistani family wheeled a coffin to the check-in desk expecting to store it in the aeroplane’s overhead luggage compartment. The incident was reported to the Manchester Evening News as the strangest encounter by staff at the airport over the last year. A British Airways spokeswoman told Q News: "Apparently one of their relatives had died while they were visiting and they didn’t know they needed a coroner’s certificate and all the other paperwork to take the body back. There was nothing suspicious or untoward. They just didn’t know any better" (Q News, No308, 01.07.99).

 

 

Melvyn Leach interview

Q News (No308, 01.07.99) has an interview with Melvyn Leach, Area Head for South Brent Adult Community Education Services (BACES), who has helped to set up an accredited course in Islamic counselling in North London. He became involved in the project when members of the An-Nisa Society approached him four years ago with the proposal. They had carried out research together with the North West London Mental Health Trust to find out how local Muslims were obtaining access to counselling. The findings were that the need for counselling for the Muslim community was not being met. Mr Leach says: "It was put to BACES that there was a need for counselling courses that had a faith perspective. This was quite a refreshing way of looking at counselling with the client’s faith being central." BACES helped get the counselling course accredited with the Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body (CPCAB), by highlighting examples of how the Muslim community was being excluded from effective counselling. The main challenges to setting up the course were, firstly, finding funding for the course, secondly, finding a suitable tutor, and thirdly, ensuring that potential students found out about the course. For the future, he said he hopes to take the Islamic Counselling course as far as the funds and support structures permit: "We see this as a model for meeting needs of other groups in the community who may not be getting such a good deal in counselling and we’d be looking to see if we can develop other programmes as a way of providing better support for counselling education, training and accreditation." Khalida Khan, Director of the An-Nisa Society, has written an article in the Q News about the long process the society went through to try to set up this course. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 4/5]

 

 

Mosques to fight crime in Batley

Mosques in Batley are getting together to tackle what they say is "a crime wave swamping their area." Masjid-e-Noor in Dark Lane, which itself has been burgled, and Masjid Noor-ul-Islam in Snowden Street have gathered over three hundred signatures from local residents protesting at the failure of the police to stop the increasing burglaries in their neighbourhood. Akooji Badat, chair of the Noor-ul-Islam committee said people in the area were so disheartened they had stopped reporting incidents to the police: "We are very concerned that there have been so many break-ins to houses in the area around the mosque. People aren’t reporting them any more because they think there’s no point, the police can’t do anything." A spokesman for the Woodsome Tenants Association said: "Since February the situation has just got worse and worse. There have been at least 18 burglaries in this area alone over the last few months and many more attempted burglaries where the thieves were scared off. People are very angry. If we report matters to the police they just tell us to secure our properties.

That’s not good enough; if they wanted to, they could catch somebody." Sgt David Fox, Community Liaison Officer for the Dewsbury Division, denied police were unconcerned. He said: "We are doing our best to address the problem within the resources available to us. When we were made aware of the problem we carried out some research which showed that there had been an increase in incidents over the past three months. We are very concerned about this and we are rapidly working our way towards an action plan for the area." Local councillor, Ghulam Maniyar, shares the residents’ concerns but says they need to help the police tackle crime: "The thieves seem to know as soon as someone is away – at a wedding or visiting families. It’s very worrying that they have such good local knowledge." He added that neighbours need to help each other out and report anything suspicious to the police. However, many residents say this makes no difference. One resident said: "My neighbour caught two men stealing the boiler from the house next door which was empty. He stopped them taking the boiler while his wife called the police. They waited for more than two hours for the police to arrive and in the meantime the burglars had come back and taken the boiler!" The Neighbourhood Forum has invited the police to a meeting with residents so they can tackle the issue together (Awaaz, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 5]

 

 

Appeal for foster parents

The Kirklees Foster Campaign is asking local people to provide foster homes for Asian children who cannot live with their families for a variety of reasons. Rafique Rashid, from the Kirklees Family Placement Team, outlined the problems facing Asian children. He said: "When Asian children need foster homes, and there are no Asian carers available, children are placed with white English families. Little children may not speak English and it can be very upsetting for them when they leave everything which is familiar. In the past many of these children were cared for in children’s homes. Today we try to care for all the children in our care through foster families or adoption. It is a great sorrow to see a shortage of Asian carers for Asian children." He added: "We always try to find a family that is similar to the child’s culture and background. That is why we need to speak to families from all parts of the Asian community to provide places for children from Muslim, Sikh and Hindu faiths. This will enable us to bring up the children in the culture and faith they are used to (Awaaz, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 5]

 

 

Centre hosts Palestinian exchange

A group of teenagers from Palestine spent a week in Batley as part of a new exchange programme organised by the Indian Muslim Welfare Society. The teenagers, from the Palestine Home Club, Hebron, were on the first exchange of its kind organised in the region, and it is expected that a return visit will be arranged for around 17 students from Batley. The youths were welcomed by the Mayor of Kirklees, Councillor Harry Fox, and then visited tourist attractions such as Windemere, the Dales, Alton Towers and Scarborough. Exchange organiser, Yasin Lorgat, said: "The security issues involved when visiting Palestine before has caused many problems. But new elections have brought a change in attitudes from funding agencies." The exchange was funded by the British Council but businesses in Batley also donated money and food. A local company donated £70 worth of meat for a barbecue held to thank everyone who helped organise the visit (Awaaz, 01.07.99, Batley News, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 5]

 

 

Mosque member faces jail sentence

A leading member of a Glasgow mosque has appeared in court accused of sexually molesting two young boys. Taher Din, 34, a member of the management committee of the mosque in Glasgow’s Central Mosque in Ballater Street, faces a jail sentence after being found guilty of lewd and libidinous practices and behaviour towards two Asian boys. Din’s victims were aged ten and nine at the time, and the court heard that the first assault took place during Ramadan, the holiest festival in the Islamic calendar. During the trial there were also suggestions that officials from the mosque tried to cover up the attacks. The first victim told Ms Kathleen Harper, prosecuting, that after Din dragged him into a toilet to take his and his own trousers off, a bearded man unlocked the door. Din quickly disappeared from the scene, leaving the boy to later tell his father, who could not bring himself to believe the allegation. The child’s story could have been backed up by the man, but no-one ever came forward to report the incident to the police. Din was finally brought to justice eight months later when he was caught in the act of committing the offence by one of the worshippers at the mosque. Din had lured the second boy to a changing room pretending he was going to play football with him. At the same time, Dr Mohammed Farooq, who was in Glasgow studying for a doctorate, was resting after prayer. Alerted by the boy’s shouts, Dr Farooq, who had travelled from his home in Pakistan to give evidence, told the court how he found Din lying on top of the child in the mosque’s changing room. He reported the incident to an official in the mosque’s shop who told him not to phone the police and said: "We know the guy we will sort it out." The incident, however, was reported to the police by the child’s mother. In his evidence, Din claimed that he was the victim of a conspiracy led by his wealthy brother-in-law. He alleged his brother-in-law paid witnesses to make false allegations against him. Din, who came into court for his three-day trial on crutches, also claimed he could not have been the boys’ assailant because he was severely disabled. However, witnesses told the court that he walked with just a limp and did not use crutches (Glasgow Herald, 02.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 5/6]

 

 

Police hunt fake charity collector

Police in Blackburn are looking for a bogus charity collector who deceived a local school into giving him more than £200 from money it had collected for Kosovan refugees. The conman took the money after claiming to be from the charity Islamic Relief. The head teacher of the school asked that it not be identified as the children would be upset if they knew the money they had raised had been stolen. He said: "We want to warn other schools to be on the look-out for this character." Athman Khan, manager of the North West branch of Islamic Relief, said he was very upset about the incident. He said: "We never collect door to door, so if anyone comes to collect money using our organisation name, they are not legitimate. People either send donations by post or we make arrangements in advance to collect money from schools or wherever. All volunteers and staff also carry identification badges. People should always ask for this identification card." The man is described as Asian, in his early twenties, with a dark complexion. He was said to be wearing cream Islamic dress and black shoes (Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 05.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 56]

 

 

Tahir Mohsin profile

The Independent (07.07.99) carries an article about Tahir Mohsin, managing director of Time Computer Systems, which calls him "the mystery millionaire." Mr Mohsin, 28, and his elder brother Tariq Mohammed, built their multi-million pound computer business from a room above their family’s corner shop. Since then, Time has become the biggest British manufacturer and retailer of computers - its 1998-99 turnover was more than £200 million, and net profits, when announced, are expected to be well above 1997-98’s £2.95 million. Mr Mohsin’s company bucked the trend towards direct sales, turning from a mail-order business in the early 1990’s to a retail giant with 147 shops across the country. Recently, it announced 50 more shops would open by the end of the year, creating 950 new jobs. The company’s success has put Mr Mohsin in a list of the country’s 500 richest men, estimated to be worth £27 million. Despite this, Mr Moshin remains a private man, refusing to be photographed for newspapers or magazines, and has never given statements about the company’s success. Local newspapers in Blackburn and Burnley, the two towns closest to the Time factory and headquarters in Simonstone, Lancashire, have an implicit agreement never to publish his photograph or personal details. This is despite the fact that Tahir Mohsin is the area’s biggest employer, a member of the East Lancashire Training and Enterprise Council (Eltec), a guest speaker at the business school of the University of Lancaster, and a governor of the secondary school near Granville Road in Blackburn where he went as a child. A local photographer said: "If we ever take his photograph, at a bash or something, the company is on the phone to the editor before the film even gets back to the office. Time is a very big advertiser." But with the company continuing to grow, the interest in it’s owners is likely to continue. Time Computer Systems was started in 1987 in Blackburn by Tariq Mohammed as a money-earning scheme on the side while he was a junior doctor. He shared his parents concerns about what would happen to Tahir after leaving school so early, so he put his teenage brother in charge while he was working at hospitals. The brothers found a gap in the market for cheap computers delivered without fuss by mail-order, buying them wholesale and selling at a small profit. Mr Mohsin is now 60 per cent shareholder, while his brother still works part time as a doctor, and is said to work an 18-hour day, six or seven days a week. The Eltec director, Mark Price, said: "Mr Mohsin is very community minded. He’s wise, analytical and sees through problems immediately. His views and his perspective are very mature and I seek and value his views. He hates all the media hype and publicity, he dislikes everything the Sunday Times Rich List stands for. He is a private person, quite unprepossessing when you first meet him, and he doesn’t want glory or fame. He thinks that’s missing the point completely." Colin Silcock, the company’s sales director, says Mr Mohsin and his brothers "want to keep it as a family business", reflecting the company’s roots. The 800 employees at Simonstone know the brothers as "family", and are said to be devout Muslims. They have a prayer room, known commonly as "The Mosque", in the building and Mr Silcock says that religion "is an important aspect" of understanding how Time operates, although he did not elaborate on this point. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 6/7]

 

 

Sutton community mourns murder

The Muslim community in Sutton have been mourning the tragic murder of retired property dealer, Mohammed Raja, aged 63. Mr Raja was shot in the head and stomach at 10.00 am on July 2 as he answered the door of his house to two men disguised as workmen. His grandson, who was on holiday from Pakistan, was upstairs at the time of the shooting, called an ambulance, but Mr Raja was pronounced dead at the scene. His wife and children were on holiday in Kuwait. Murder squad detectives have embarked on house to house enquiries and are keen to speak to anyone with information about the distinctively marked white transit van, which was used as a getaway vehicle, then abandoned and set alight about 15 minutes after the shooting. Detective Chief Inspector Chris Horne, leading the investigation, said: "This would be a terrible crime wherever it had taken place, but the fact that it happened in Sutton is particularly shocking. There are very few murders in the area." The Muslim community say they are convinced it was not a racially motivated attack (Sutton Guardian, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Money raised for cancer research

Nearly £2,000 has been raised by Rotherham’s Muslim community to help cancer patients in South Yorkshire. The money will go towards a new £2 million cancer research centre at Sheffield’s Western Park Hospital. Mohammed Akram started fundraising after being treated at the hospital for cancer. Donations were made at the town’s mosques. A hospital spokesman said: "We are very grateful for all the efforts of the Muslim community in raising this money. The hospital’s research centre project will help main tain the hospital’s international reputa tion and ensure cancer patients continue to receive the best and most advanced treatments" (Barnsley Star, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Kosovo update

The Harrow Islamic Society held a fundraising event for Kosovan refugees, and raised almost £3,000. More than 300 people attended an evening of music, food and entertainment (Harrow, Stanmore & Kingsbury Times, 24.06.99, Harrow Observer, 01.07.99). An eight-mile walk was organised in Chesham by the Asian Women’s Group. Around 40 people participated in the walk, which raised a total of £3,500. Organiser Talat Siddiqui said: "It was a very nice occa sion, a real social success. After a damp start, the weather brightened consider ably. We were grateful to Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco’s for their help and support" (Bucks Examiner, 02.07.99, Muslim News, 23.07.99). The Shahin Tandoori Restaurant in Guildford raised £2,000 at a charity evening, when 80 per cent of the night’s takings were donated to the appeal. The manager of the restaurant, Yameen Deedar, came up with the idea after asking the Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd John Gladwin, what he could do to help the crisis in Kosovo. The money was donated to the Christian Aid Kosovo appeal (See BMMS for April, May and June 1999) (Cranleigh Times, 10.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Madrasa teacher jailed

A madrasa teacher was jailed for three months after being convicted of benefit fraud totalling £16,500 (See BMMS for June 1999). Bashir Hafejee, 38, pleaded guilty to ten offences of theft from Blackburn and Darwen Council and had asked for another 92 to be taken into consideration. The offences are related to housing benefit paid to the house Mr Hafejee was staying in which was owned by his brother. The court heard that the benefit was paid on the understanding that Hafejee had no interest in the property and that the landlord was not a relative. Mr Hafejee did manage to pay back all the money he had been given, but imposing the three-month sentence the chairman said: "The claims were made over a lengthy period of time in which you made numerous false declarations and a substantial amount of public money was involved" (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Sheffield centre given permission

A disused car sales depot is to be given permission to be converted into a community and prayer centre for Shi’a Muslims in Sheffield (See BMMS for June 1999). After visiting the site, and being given assurances by the applicants, city councillors overturned the advice of their officers and approved the scheme subject to the opening hours being restricted to 10:30pm and not the 11:30pm requested. Among the objec tors on grounds of noise and other disturbance were Sheffield Chamber of Trade whose offices are nearby (Sheffield Telegraph, 09.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Grant for Muslim association

Members of the Muslim Khatri Association in Leicester received a further £1,000 grant from the NatWest Bank to help with refurbishment work at the centre, following a £2,500 donation from the Lloyds TSB Foundation (See BMMS for June 1999). Jane Hingley, Small Business Advisor at the NatWest, presenting the cheque said: "We are always keen to help small voluntary organisations in the city with smaller grants up to £4,000 to help them run smoothly. This is part of our commitment to serve the community we operate within" (Leicester Mercury, 20.07.99, Leicester Mail, 22.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Islamic banking on the Net

Muslims in Britain can now learn about Islamic banking on the Internet. A web site run by the Islamic Investment Banking Unit, part of the United Bank of Kuwait, offers information about the role of Shari’a in Islamic finance and information about halal mortgages, including the Manzil Murabaha and Ijara mortgage packages which are available through the IIBU (See BMMS for December 1998, February and April 1999). The site can be visited on www.iibu.com (The Express, 14.07.99, Teletext, 17.09.99, Independent on Sunday, 18.07.99, News of the World, 18.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7]

 

 

Supermarket chain success

The Yorkshire Post (13.07.99) has a profile on Saleem Ahmed, a local business man in Bradford, who has built a successful supermarket business which he hopes to expand to other cities. After his Leeds Jeans Empire was put into voluntary liquidation in the early 1980s, Mr Ahmed was looking out for a line of business other than clothing or property. The idea for Haqs Multicultural Supermarket came to him one day while walking around a Brad ford grocery shop which attracted an almost exclusively Muslim clientele because it sold only halal foodstuffs. Mr Ahmed said: "It wasn’t as clean and bright and cheerful as the other super markets in town. Although I had no experience in food retailing, I had long ago learned a basic principle: if you can see what’s missing and where you can do it better, you are in business." The existing store in Bradford has an annual turnover of £2 million, and their aim is to reach £3 million by the end of the next financial year. Then they will spread to other centres with Muslim and South Asian populations. Mr Ahmed recognises that there will be difficulties in getting investor interest in this kind of proposition, partly because retailing has not been having a smooth time recently, but he has plenty of innovative ideas for the shape and style of business he wants to build. It will have an in-house magazine, loyalty cards, in-store snackbars, chapattis and naans baked while-you-shop, a website and cookery demonstrations. But one feature which Mr Ahmed says will not change, is their strict adherence to stocking only halal products. He said: "For our Muslim customers, we’ll always be a halal shop – for everyone else, though, we will be multicultural." [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 7/8]

 

 

Row over Islamic centre

A row has erupted in Bournemouth over plans to convert a former toy shop into an Islamic community centre. Religious lessons for children have been held on the site every Friday for the past six months and objectors are now claiming scores of people have signed a petition demanding that Poole Council block a retrospective planning application. Warish Ullah from the Dorset Islamic Cultural Association said: "I don’t understand the objections. I can’t see we are doing any harm to the community or to any business. Obviously people have a right to complain but this is, at the end of the day, for the community, for everybody. It doesn’t matter if you are Muslim or Christian – despite what people think the two religions are very similar. What we would say is that if you want to come along you can." Donald Brooking, owner of a nearby stationary shop, said: "What most of us are concerned about is that we are losing another shop on Ashley Road. We are also worried about car parking. We already have problems with the place at the minute when people arrive at the centre for meetings on Fridays. It is something that will damage trade if shoppers can’t park their cars." Planning officers were due to make their decision at the end of July. A planning officer said: "We’ve received two letters of complaint so it is not a contentious application at this stage" (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 16.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 8]

 

 

Arson attack on Bury centre

Firefighters spent two hours fighting a fire at an Islamic centre in Bury in mid-July. Earlier at the same site, firemen had been called to a car fire. It is believed that the attackers smashed the front door into the hallway and started the fire. Damage was confined to the hallway (Bolton Evening News, 17.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 8]

 

 

Woking Mela

The third Woking Mela was held this year at the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking on July 11. The Mela is the result of a partnership between the mosque, Woking Police, Woking Borough Council, NTL, Drake and Scull Technical Services, Woking and District Rotary Club, Woking Police and Community Partnership Group, and the Sheerwater and Maybury Partnership. After the official opening, visitors were able to see displays by more than 30 local organisations including The Galleries, Woking Museum and Arts and Crafts Centre, which displayed historic pictures of the mosque. Amanda Devonshire, of The Galleries, said: "We are looking for any photo graphs taken of the Mosque before the 1970s, or documents, letters or plans relating to its development. We are also keen to talk to residents who attended the Mosque in the 1950s and 60s." The story of the mosque will be one of the themes in The Galleries’ local history displays. There were also free rides for children, guided tours of the mosque and a lunch was prepared by Woking’s Asian community (Woking Review, 17.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 8]

 

 

Burglars steal parrots

Parrots who recite verses of the Qur’an were stolen from a house in Bradford. The birds were part of a collection belonging to Mohammed Fazal, aged 69. Mr Fazal returned home one evening to find that two budgerigars, four parrots, three finches and their cage had gone. The parrots learned to recite the verses during visits to the owner’s local mosque in Great Horton. Mr Fazal, who is said to be heart-broken about the stolen pets, said: "I took them to the mosque and after a while the parrots began copying the prayers from the Koran. I don’t know why anyone would want to steal them from me" (London Metro, 21.07.99). He added: "I live alone and the birds are my only companions. I pray five times a day to Allah and the parrots used to say: "Allah-ho Akbar (God is great). I don’t watch television but I was able to speak to my parrots in Urdu." Local police were asking any one with any information to contact them at the station (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 20.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 8]

 

 

Boxer signs for cricket team

The world WBC super-middle-weight champion Richie Woodhall, swapped his boxing gloves for a bat and ball after signing as a cricketer for Telford Muslims. Mo Fiaz, opening batsman for the division one team, said: "We have never had a non-Muslim playing for us, and with other teams bringing in overseas players we thought it was about time we brought in our first non-Muslim." Mr Fiaz co-founded the club with Malik Hussain eight years ago and has seen them rise from the bottom of the Bank’s League to the first division. He added: "Anybody can play for the team – it’s just that we’ve got so many Muslims playing for us. But we wouldn’t just go for anyone – we wanted the top pro!" (Shropshire Star, 22.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 8/9]

 

 

MCB annual general meeting

The second Annual General Meeting of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), held in May, emphasised the need for active participation in the political and social progress of the country. In the open session of the meeting, Iqbal Sacranie, General Secretary of the MCB, said there has been progress in these fields, but "Muslims are still very much in the margins of societal processes," and the only way forward is by "raising the quality of our participation." Mr Sacranie suggested that Muslim organisations should put social and political education on the agenda, especially among the younger generation, who he feels are "in a better position to understand and interact with the society in which they were born." Two speakers were invited for the open session, Akbar Ahmed, a Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge University, and Lord Nazir Ahmed. Mr Ahmed spoke on "Ideal Islamic Leadership" saying that a Muslim leader represents both political and moral authority. Lord Ahmed, while acknowledging that the Government considers the MCB as the largest Muslim organisation in the UK, said that there is still a need to have more organisations included "united under one umbrella organisation at political, social, and national level." He said that this will enable Muslims to play an important role in Britain, and will be able to influence British domes tic and international policies. He re minded the audience that "I do not want to think that I have been nomi nated by the Muslim community. I am there (House of Lords) as a Labour peer and my prime duty is as a Labour (peer)." However, this would not mean that he would support issues against Islam and Islamic principles, but would continue to support issues of Muslim concern. He also argued for the need to have change in the community with the change of time, saying: "We need to have sermons (in mosques) in English.

If I had my way, I would ban any imam coming to Britain who did not speak English." He also criticised the BBC for neglecting Muslims: "They mainly cater for people of Bangra and Bollywood. We have to make sure that the Government and the BBC know that Muslims are different from Black and Asian, adding that if the BBC "do not do anything about this I will call a demonstration outside the BBC at Pebble Mill in Birmingham" (Muslim News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 9]

 

 

Seminar on the world of work

A one day seminar was held at the Muslim World League in London on July 10, entitled "Surviving the World of Work." It was organised by the City Circle, a body established in January 1999 whose aim is "to contribute towards establishing a knowledgeable and organised Muslim community." Over a hundred people attended the seminar, whose theme was how to work successfully in this world and be successful in the next. The morning was allocated to discussions about ‘know ledge’, with talks on things such as ‘real wealth’, meaning the deeds that will benefit a person on the Day of Judgement. One of the speakers said that Muslims should aspire to be wealthy because with money come choices and with that comes power. However, this power must be harnessed in pursuit of the pleasure of Allah and not only for personal goals. Rashad Yaqoob, a city-based solicitor, started the afternoon session, and explained how Muslims should use the skills they develop at work for the benefit of the Muslim community. He gave his own story as an example where he has given his services to helping the British Muslims held in Yemen. Also speaking at the seminar were Masood Khawaja of the Halal Food Authority, Sarah Sherif of the Muslim Women’s Helpline, and Ahmed Khan of the Needy Children of the Ummah. Mustafa Davies of the City Circle said he was pleased with the seminar. He said: "Everything we do is to seek Allah’s (swt) pleasure and we hope this seminar helps generate the ideas and action to tackle our own problems in a constructive manner, insh’allah." The next seminar, on personal finance, is scheduled to be held in September (Muslim News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 9]

 

 

Double honours for Bashir Maan

Bashir Maan, a local councillor in Glasgow, has been given double honours in Scotland. On June 30, the University of Strathclyde honoured the works and achievements of one Glasgow’s leading public figures, by awarding him the honorary degree of Doctor of Law. Earlier, it had been announced by Strathclyde Police that he was to be appointed to the important post of Police Board Convenor, over seeing one of the largest police forces in the UK. Mr Maan migrated in 1953 from Pakistan to Britain, where he became a successful business man and local politician. He became a Labour councillor in 1970, and has since held many important city council posts, including Bailie of the City of Glasgow in 1996. Mr Maan is known in the Muslim community for his involvement in many Muslim organisations, including the UK Action Committee on Islamic Affairs and the Pakistan Social and Cultural Society. He has also contributed to promoting racial har mony and combating racism through his involvement with the Commission for Racial Equality, of which he was Deputy Chair, and the Community Relations Council. His appointment to the Police Board comes at a particularly challenging time, as the Chief Con stable’s Annual Report recorded a nine per cent increase in the number of racial crimes in the area. Mr Maan said: "My very presence at the head of the Joint Police Board will convey very encouraging messages to everybody concerned in the police force and also in the community" (Muslim News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 9]

 

 

Marathon runner raises money for mosque

A runner in the London marathon has helped raise £11,000 to help fund the construction of a new mosque in Oxford. Ifzaal Khan, 25, from Oxford, ran his first marathon this April. After 19 miles he suffered blisters and had to walk to the finishing line, but he said the pain was worth it. Mr Khan said: "I was in agony because of the blisters but I struggled to the line. It took me about five-and-a-half hours to finish the run. I am very pleased with the amount of money raised. I stood outside the pre sent mosque in Bath Street and badgered people and they came up with this incredible total." The money will go towards the Oxford Mosque Society project to build a mosque in Manzil Way. The building originally planned was set to cost £3 million, but they have scaled down their plans and the build ing is now expected to cost £1.5 million. Council planners told the society members that they could not start building until they had raised £500,000. Shaukat Qureshi, from the Oxford Mosque Society, said: "We have raised about £450,000 and are close to our target so we hope to start building in the next couple of months. Ifzaal’s contribution has been a great help and we hope other young people like him will volunteer to raise funds, because it will be their mosque in years to come" (Oxford Times, 23.07.99, Oxford Mail, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 9/10]

 

 

Education

School mosque visit

Primary school children from Wishaw Academy visited the Glasgow Central Mosque as part of their religious and moral education about world religion. The pupils were shown how the Muslims pray and were invited to look around the prayer halls inside the mosque, and the pupils seemed to enjoy learning about and experiencing a different religion (Wishaw Press, 30.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10]

 

 

Newsletter tells parents to boycott state schools

A newsletter has been circulating in the Kirklees area, claiming to tell the "truth" about a number of schools in North Kirklees, and urges Muslims parents to boycott state schools. It is thought to have been published by a group of "fundamentalists" from out side Kirklees, but several thousand leaflets were distributed by hand and put through letterboxes. Titled "Schools’ Broadcast" the newsletter is printed on three sheets of A4 paper and says that Muslims should not attend schools that do not provide the correct environment for them. It urges Muslim parents: "Dump all state schools and teach your children yourself." It also says that Muslims teachers should not be working in the state system. Maqsood Ahmed, director of the Kirklees Race Equality Council, con demned the publication and said they had launched an investigation to find out who was responsible. Kirklees Council also made a statement con demning the leaflets in local newspaper, Awaaz (Awaaz, 01.07.99, Batley News, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10]

 

 

Move for Walsall girls’ school

A derelict building, currently thought to be used as a drug den, could be bought and converted into a Muslim girls’ school (See BMMS for April 1999). Bosses at Palfrey Girls School, currently based in Midland Road, Palfrey, have asked to buy the council owned Palfrey House in Queen Mary Street. The executive manager of the school, Mahmood Sacha, said there was not enough space at the present site to teach the pupils at the community funded school. He said: "The building we are in is not large enough and we have to use Walsall College for science lessons." A council planning officer said: "This proposal provides an opportunity to refurbish the building, improve the external appearance of the site and remove the potential for further anti-social activities." An objector to the proposal, who claimed to be Muslim, said a school purely for Muslim children would create racial tensions in the area, but council officers said there was no suggestion of racism problems at the school’s current premises. A petition from residents living near the school stated the pupils were very well behaved. Councillors have put off making a decision until a further planning meeting is called in August (Walsall Advertiser, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10]

 

 

Arson attack on training college

An Islamic training college in Worcestershire was the victim of a recent arson attack. Fire crews rushed to the residential block of the Madina-Tul-Uloom College. A Hereford and Worcester fire service spokesman said: "Everyone was able to get out of the residential part of the college before we arrived and there were no injuries." Firemen brought the fire quickly under control and it was put out within an hour. The spokesman said: "The cause of the fire is under investigation but we believe it was started underneath a mattress which was placed up against a wall in a corridor" (Birmingham Post, 06.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10]

 

 

Degree success

A joint A-level venture between a private Muslim school using teachers from the College of North West London has seen offers of university places flood in. Most A-level students at the Islamia Girls’ School in Salisbury Road, have finished their exams and are looking forward to going to university. The college agreed to fund more than a dozen teachers who worked on an outreach basis because parents wanted their daughters to attend a single-sex school with an Islamic environment. Community liaison manager at the college, Nasrin Qamerdin, said: "This is the first time in England that a school and college are working in partnership for the benefit of a particular group" (Wembley & Brent Times, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10]

 

 

Too much time at mosque for children

A task group set up to explore why so many Bangladeshi and Pakistani pri mary pupils across Walsall are failing, has said it is largely because they spend too much time at the mosque. They claim Muslim pupils are often missing from school because of "religious reasons" and extended holidays to the subcontinent play havoc with their education. Education chiefs are worried that at key stage 2 (children between seven and 11), only one in six children from the Bangladeshi community and one in five Pakistani pupils passed the standard Mathematics Test, compared with 46 per cent of white pupils. However, an Ofsted report said the performance of pupils from both minor ity ethnic groups was depressed in the early years, but once they became pro ficient in English, their attainment matches or surpasses that of English first language pupils. A task group devised an action plan to combat under achievement after Bangladeshi sixth-formers in Walsall schools said teachers were out of touch with Muslim culture. They want to see more Muslim teachers, school assemblies which recognise all faiths, and more bi-lingual teachers. A report by the task group said: "The low attendance of Pakistani pupils may well be related to differences of under standing about the purposes of education. The vast majority of Pakistani people in Walsall come from a rural area called Mirpur where the emphasis is on giving an elementary education. Education in earlier years, particularly if it is carried out through play is not seen as important. Children only pro gress to a higher class if they complete the current syllabus successfully, so parents assume progress in Britain from one year to the next is a result of performing well at school - they find it difficult to understand how a child can progress and still be considered by his teacher to be performing poorly." The task group recommends: teachers should avoid stereotyping ‘Pakistanis’ and expecting low achievement; young pupils should be ‘mentored’ by older children to improve confidence; parents should play a greater part in combating a "casual approach to attendance"; and visits to Pakistan should be made educational, with pupils encouraged to log their experiences (Walsall Observer, 02.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 10/11]

 

 

Travelling Islam exhibition

A travelling Islamic exhibition designed to educate school pupils in world religion, recently visited Norwich. The two week show at Blyth-Jex High School contained pictures, artefacts and costumes relating to the faith and culture. More than 2,000 children viewed the collection at the St Clement’s Hill School and were given instructions about the various aspects of Islamic belief. Tariq Amin, who organised the exhibition in conjunction with the Black Stone Foundation, said: "It was really telling the story of Islam as lived by Muslims. I would say that the number of children who saw the exhibition shows just how successful it was." The exhibition travels around schools and colleges all over the country and the artefacts are supplied by the Iqra Trust (Norwich Evening News, 12.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 11]

 

 

School’s lessons in Islam

Pupils at St Cyres GM Comprehensive School in Penarth leant about Islam when a lecturer in Islamic studies visited the school. As part of a new approach in Religious Education, pupils study all the major world faiths. Mr Ragab, a lecturer and school governor, spoke to year eight pupils about his life as a Muslim. He showed them Muslim artefacts such as a prayer mat and the Holy Qur’an, and talked about the Muslim religion and way-of-life. Pupils seemed to enjoy the opportunity of being able to ask questions about the religion, and studying the artefacts and posters (Penarth Times, 15.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 11]

 

 

Girls’ school plan in Blackburn

A school for up to 400 girls is being planned in Blackburn. The school would be open from 9am to 2pm, and the scheme would include 18 teaching areas, a hall and a car park with 19 spaces with a dropping off area. Three residents in the area have already written to the council amid fears that extra traffic will be created which will congest the roads in the area. One resident said: "Before this project goes ahead, there has to be assurance that provision is made for any additional traffic to the area, giving details of how the problem will be dealt with." Planning officers have advised council lors to give the scheme the green light (Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 17.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 11]

 

 

School to open in Glasgow

The first Muslim school in Scotland is due to open at the end of August, following concerns from Muslim parents that their children were facing moral decline (See BMMS for June 1998). The school, which is nearing completion in a refurbished state school, will initially have only one or two classes for very young pupils, but plans are in place for expansion with organisers advertising for teaching staff. Iqra Academy will not receive any pub lic funding. The purchase and refurbish ment of the building was funded by Asian businessmen, while parents will pay up to £1,400 per year in fees. Glasgow councillor Hanzala Malik said the school would initially have one or two nursery classes for children of both sexes. It is hoped that primary classes will soon follow, and plans for an all girls’ secondary may be several years away from completion. According to the advert placed in education journals seeking senior teachers, "the school’s curriculum will be based on the Scottish education system with an Islamic ethos. Iqra Academy will be open to all who wish to attend." Teachers must have an extensive knowledge of Islam and can didates with a knowledge of Arabic will be preferred. Mr Malik said: "There has been a lot of interest in the school ever since the plans were revealed. There will always be people who want their children educated according to their faith or in a single-sex environment. It is a big financial burden on the com munity and that is why it has taken a while to get things up and running, but the priority is to get it right and provide a high-quality education. It is para mount that no-one’s education is compromised" (The Scotsman, 19.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 11]

 

 

Politics

Question Time at House of Lords

The second ‘Question Time’ organised at the House of Lords by the Islamic Society of Britain, put issues such as Kosovo, Kashmir and Islamophobia on the agenda. Among the panellists taking part were Lord Ponsonby, the liaison minister to the Foreign and Common wealth Minister Baroness Simone, who agreed with Dr Azzam Tamimi of Liberty for the Muslim World, that it was hard to imagine a future Kosovo remaining under Serbian rule after the atrocities of recent months. On the subject of Islamophobia, Lord Toby Harris said it was unacceptable that it should be allowed to exist in any civil ised country. Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that while he was yet to be fully satisfied, credit should be given to the government for accommodating many demands made by the Muslim community. The panellists all agreed that the people of Kashmir should be allowed a vote on self-determination (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 11/12]

 

 

More ‘ethnic minority’ positions in Civil Service

On July 7, the Government announced that it was to increase the number of ethnic minorities in senior grades in the Civil Service. The announcement was made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Jack Cunningham, at the first ever Civil Service ethnic minorities careers fair. Later, in an interview with the Muslim News, Mr Cunningham admitted that the reason for the small number of ethnic minorities in White hall is because the system "has erected unconscious barriers." At present only 1.6 per cent of the top 3,000 jobs in the Civil Service are filled by members of the ethnic minorities, but Mr Cunning ham said that Whitehall is not just a white dominated area, but a male dominated one: "Women aren’t fairly represented in the senior grades any more than people of ethnic minorities are." He added that a "cultural change" was needed, to change attitudes and to value diversity. New measures to encourage recruitment include the appointment of a senior ethnic minority advisor and an outreach worker to help increase recruitment and secondment, encouraging ethnic minority children and undergraduates to take up work experience opportunities and then hold ing open days by all departments to make themselves more accessible. Mr Cunningham denied that the Civil Service do not target the Muslim community. When the Muslim News suggested that when it comes to recruitment, the Government always uses non-Muslim ethnic press, Mr Cunningham replied: "I do not think that is right, I hope that is not right." Asked why anyone from the ethnic minorities should want to join the Civil Service, he said: "They should join because there are wonderful career opportunities, because they can have a major influ ence on the course of the future of this country. Because they can advise ministers, they can help develop new policies. They can really make a difference. And we want them to make a difference. We are determined to ensure they can go right to the very top" (Muslim News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 12]

 

 

Racism

Sergeant in discrimination case promoted

An Army sergeant at the centre of allegations that he discriminated against a Muslim soldier has been promoted. Ivan Smith has been promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major, despite an ongoing investigation into his conduct. Smith is accused by 34-year old former lance-bombardier Nasar Khan of a cata logue of racial discrimination and harassment over a five-year period. Khan claims he was regularly humili ated by Smith in front of his colleagues, who would address him as "a fucking Paki bastard" and a "Paki twat". When Khan submitted an application to join an elite unit, he alleges that Smith tore up his form and said: "They don’t take Pakis into the special forces." Smith was promoted despite the seriousness of the allegations and after an internal in quiry found "some evidence" of wrongdoing. The Ministry of Defence confirmed only that he had been "dealt with". Khan also claims that Smith was the source of anonymous phone and written threats made against him after he went public. Khan’s case will be the first to be heard by a tribunal since a change in the law in 1997 made it possible for victims of racial discrimi nation to bring their grievances before a civil court (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 12]

 

 

Women

Health advice for women

Muslim women in Sandwell are being offered help and advice to improve access to health care services. Scheme co-ordinators Sanjida Rahim and Shefa Malik are based at the Primary Care Building at Sandwell General Hospital. Their team includes 14 support workers who go out into the community to make direct contact with Muslim women throughout the borough. They are also working with local GPs and other health officials. Ms Malik said: "We encour age Muslim women to get in touch and find out more about health care available. We want to make services more culturally sensitive and increase uptake" (Sandwell Chronicle, 25.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 12]

 

 

Report gives voice to Pakistani women

A report commissioned by the Pakistan Community Association and produced by the Gladstone Community Women’s Project, is set to give a voice to Paki stani women in Peterborough. The report raises a number of issues sur rounding health, education, training for employment, domestic violence and child abuse concerning Pakistani wo men living in the most deprived areas in England. The report’s author, Qamar Nisa, played a vital role in highlighting the issues. She said: "This report offers a unique opportunity for Peterborough to create a powerful forum by involving the community. This study is the docu mented views of Pakistani women and girls." Harmesh Lakhanpaul, director of the Peterborough Racial Equality Council, said: "This is the first time for young girls and women within the Pakistani community to voice their opinions which, for a long time, have not been heard" (Peterborough Herald & Post, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 12]

 

 

Domestic violence

Q News (No308, 01.07.99) carries an article entitled "Domestic Violence: The Role of the Community," saying that members of the Muslim community have to face up to their responsibilities by firstly accepting that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. Then there needs to be an awareness about the Islamic guidelines on the family and people need to be trained in crisis intervention and counselling. Cur rently, as there are not many Muslims qualified to teach crisis intervention and counselling [see Melvyn Leach inter view in the ‘Community’ section], many Muslims learn the techniques from non-Muslim social service agencies. Trained Muslim councillors need to be present in every city to help men and women, those who are the abusers and the abused. Separate counselling for the couple is necessary, after which there would be joint counselling for the husband and wife, and then counselling for the entire family. The objective should be to heal the family, but divorce may be necessary. One option the article highlights, is being used in New York, where Muslim men are punished for their abusive actions. A "security force" warns, and then beats up, if necessary, Muslim men who continue beating their wives. Usually the abusers get the message, this being the only language many of them understand. Some men have to be beaten before they are ready to listen to rational, Islamic arguments. Commun ity education is necessary - through Friday khutbahs (sermons), educational seminars and workshops. These educa tional programmes can themselves reduce abuse by letting people know that the community is not going to tolerate it any more. The article also says that the community needs to esta blish classes to teach Muslim men, young and old, how to be proper husbands and fathers and to teach Muslim women, young and old, how to be proper wives and mothers. These steps will take a number of years to implement, which is why the process needs to be started immediately. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 12/13]

 

 

Women only swimming session agreed

Swimming baths in Northampton have agreed to be sealed off for one evening a month to allow Bangladeshi women in the area to go swimming, without com promising their beliefs. A cut-price women-only evening will be introduced at Mount Baths, after 70 women turned up for an introductory session. Baths manager Ian Stupple said: "Mount Baths exists for everyone in Northamp ton to use, but clearly we have to adapt it to suit certain groups...We tried to make the environment as non-intimidating as we could, because many of the swimmers were coming to the baths for the first time" (Northampton Chronicle, 06.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 13]

 

 

Interfaith

Interfaith gathering at Leicester

An interfaith gathering, organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Leicester, was attended by representa tives from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduisn and Sikhism. An audience of more than 120 people listened to pre sentations from people of the different faiths. The President of the Leicester branch of the Ahmadiyya movement, Saleem Ahmed, said: "The aim is to bring speakers from different faith traditions together in amity and a spirit of fraternity. In a world racked by conflict, it is important to realise that there is more in our common humanity that unites than divides" (Leicester Mercury, 08.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 13]

 

 

Invitation to Islam

An article in the Christian Herald (24.07.99) talks about the invitation of Britain to Islam, following a rally held in London by Al-Muhajiroun inviting non-Muslims, including the Queen, to embrace Islam. The article was written by Anthony McRoy, an Irish freelance religious journalist currently research ing for a PhD about British Muslims at the London Bible College, who was present at the rally. He said that Al-Muhajiroun’s UK leader, Anjem Choudary, predicted that Britain would become predominantly Muslim within a century. Speeches at the rally from members of Al-Muhajiroun, criticised other religions and ideologies, and then people from those beliefs were invited to debate the speakers. Mr McRoy said that Christians could empathise with some sentiments, like those of Omar Brooks, who warned Muslims that secular Britain was not really Christian. He spoke of the emptiness of atheist/ agnostic life, and argued that atheism contradicted rationality in the face of life and the reality of the universe. However, many comments were dis missed due to their inaccuracy, as many of the speakers did not have the correct Bible references or dates of historical events. Several Muslim-Christian de bate groups formed with passionate, but peaceful, discussion. Mr McRoy asked Omar Bakri Mohammed of Al-Muhajiroun if in an Islamic Britain, Christians could hold an equivalent rally, including talks by converts from Islam, to which he replied in the affirmative. Mr Bakri apologised to Mr McRoy for his members placing a poster over the notice-board of his church in east London. Mr McRoy questioned Christian-Muslim relations in Muslim countries, and pointed out that many of the comments at this rally were not reassuring Christians of their fate in an Islamic Republic of Britain. [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 13]

 

 

Exchange scheme for teenagers

An experiment to promote religious harmony in east London could see three groups of four teenagers visiting Israel for a two-week trip. It is hoped that the scheme, organised by the Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford, will promote understanding between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim youths by having them visit holy areas of relevance to them all. An identical mixed-religion group of 12 Israeli teenagers will join them for the mission and all will stay at a unique settlement in the country. Carrie Supple, sixth form programmes co-ordinator at King Soloman High School in Barkingside, from which students are going on the exchange, said: "The trip will allow them to develop their understanding of people from other faiths and I hope that they’ll decide to carry on that work in what ever they do. I hope they will talk to people who weren’t on the trip about their experiences and encourage them to see each other as potential friends and companions rather than ‘others’." Organiser Ann Davison, the Bishop of Chelmsford’s advisor on inter-faith relations, said: "We thought this trip would be quite an unusual thing. As far as I know nothing has been done quite like this before. We hope the children will all learn from each other and be come friends and so break the stereo types people might have" (Barking & Dagenham Recorder, 22.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 13]

 

 

Halal

Halal World plans £3m float

Halal meat supplier and retailer Halal World has announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange (See BMMS for December 1998 and January 1999). It plans to raise £3million by selling shares to British Muslims at 100p per share on Ofex, the junior stock market for small companies, and will fund a rapid store expansion pro gramme across the UK and Europe. Sam Ahmed, joint managing director of the group, said: "We are looking to buy our own abattoir, open up new shops across the UK and expand into Europe and then the Middle East. We are aiming at opening 50 shops in the UK in the next five years, and aim to open six shops by the end of the year. There is a large customer base in Europe and we have shops pinpointed in France and Germany" (Norwich Eastern Daily Press, 22.06.99). The family run busi ness also wants the "butchery to match a supermarket look and supermarket image." Lord Nazir Ahmed, who recenty joined the board of Halal World, said; "We are preparing the meat from the slaughtering stage, to the processing, all the way to the customer. So the hygiene level stays, the quality stays, price is kept down and service is ensured" (Asian Times, 29.06.99). However, there are concerns that this move could mean that small independ ent butchers’ shops will be forced to close down (The Scotsman, 22.06.99, Aberdeen Press & Journal, 22.06.99, Wolverhampton Express & Star, 22.06.99, Bristol Evening Post, 22.06.99, Sheffield Star, 23.06.99, Birmingham Evening Mail, 24.06.99, Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 28.06.99, Asian Times, 29.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 14]

 

 

Health

Organ donor controversy

A leading transplant surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary, who said he has experienced racist and sectarian conditions attached to organ donations, does not think that a new law would improve the situation. The controversy began when a white patient from Sheffield said he would only donate his organs if they were not given to a black patient. Since then, doctors at Man chester Royal Infirmary revealed that they had refused organs from an Asian family who wanted their organs to go to Muslims only. Bob Johnson said he was not involved in this particular case, but said: "It was a crying shame to waste them, but my colleagues found it repugnant and refused to collect them" (Manchester Evening News, 06.07.99). He said he has experienced ten similar cases in his years as a transplant surgeon, with kidneys from Ireland being marked for Protestants or Catholics. He condemned the racist attitudes of the families, but said a new law would not improve the situation: "It may be that people will not offer to donate organs because they feel that they could not make any conditions. At least at the moment if conditions are made there is a chance we can change their minds. A new law would mean that they may not come forward in the first place." The Health Secretary Frank Dobson has ordered an inquiry into the situation, and said: "We will not tolerate it. It never occurred to me that a rule would be necessary to keep racism out of blood transfusions and donations. If it needs introducing then we will introduce it." Mr Johnson said these preconditions could not be tolerated. He said: "We couldn’t ask people if they were Muslims. It would have been impossible. It is difficult to match the tissue, we couldn’t then match them with the same religion" (Birmingham Post, 09.07.99, The Times, 09.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 14]

 

 

Mosques & Burials

Batley, Bromley St

Labour MP Mike Wood has criticised Kirklees councillors and officers for granting permission for a mosque and madrasa to continue running at its present site (See BMMS for February 1998). The MP for Batley supported the residents in their claims that the mosque would increase traffic. Residents had submitted a 365-signature petition and 35 individual letters of objection, claiming the mosque would add to traffic congestion causing hazards for local schoolchildren. They also claimed that most users of the mosque came from Mount Pleasant and children waiting to be collected by their parents were shouting, playing with balls and throwing stones. The Al-Habeeb Welfare Trust were given temporary permission in December 1996 to convert a former Methodist church into a mosque and madrasa. Last year the council gave a further one year temporary planning permission, and due to the objections, decided to visit the site before making a decision on further renewal. Labour Councillor Ghulam Maniar, the Chairman of the planning sub-committee, denied there would be traffic problems, saying: "The mosque has been in existence for two years and we haven’t had a single complaint from the police or the highway authorities." At Mr Wood’s suggestion, the 12 month planning application was given to allow the authorities to monitor traffic. Mr Maniar added: "We have monitored the mosque for the past two years and have not found any traffic problem. It was a right decision. It was not fair to let it drag on" (Muslim News, 23.07.99, Batley News, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 14]

 

 

Blackpool

Muslims in Blackpool have launched a new bid for a new mosque on a site which has already been rejected by the council (See BMMS for June 1999). Last year an application for a mosque was thrown out by councillors on the grounds that it would create too many traffic problems. Residents also op posed the plan to convert an old factory building as "inappropriate." The new proposal includes a change of access and has been drawn up after unsuccess ful attempts to find an alternative site. A spokesman for Aamir Design Ltd, which is acting on behalf of the Muslim community, said: "Since the original application was refused, the council has been working with the Muslim community to try and find suitable premises without any luck. The big problem that the community has is with Friday prayer when most people attend the mosque. Many of them are not resident in Blackpool" (Q News, No308, 01.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 14/15]

 

 

Bradford burials

Muslims in Bradford have repeated calls for an extended coroners’ service in the district, making suggestions that there should be 24-hour cover during weekends and holidays. Members of the community voiced their concerns at a public meeting. But coroner’s officers turned down the offer to attend. Brad ford coroner Roger Whittaker said: "The coroner’s court is very sensitive to the needs and requirements of the Asian community. Last year there were 59 bodies which were sent to Pakistan, and only one of the 59 took longer than two days to certify. I acknowledge that in holiday periods, the problem may occur that a coroner may be unavailable, but I don’t believe that employing another coroner full time would justify the problem at hand." Sher Azam, a spokesman for the Council of Mosques in Bradford, said it is vital coroners are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said: "The death of a relative is a sensitive time for families. The body is expected in another continent and any delays in the coroner’s certifi cate will only add to problems." Fazal Hussain, chairman of the Asian business forum suggested a regional rotation system of coroners: "If the coroner is not available in Bradford, then maybe people could go to Leeds to get a certificate" (Bradford Telegraph & Argus, 29.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 15]

 

 

Derby, Rosehill St

Councillors in Derby are set to approve an extension to a mosque as part of its £2.5 million refurbishment (See BMMS for February and May 1999). The committee at the Jamia Mosque in Rosehill Street want to knock down ten vacant houses next to the mosque in order to extend the mosque. The size of the current hall is to be doubled to allow more people to attend prayers, as there are sometimes more than 2,000 people praying at the mosque but there is only room for 900. During the Eid prayer, many Muslims had to pray in the car park as there was no room inside. In addition, the mosque will be extended to include at least 11 classrooms for teaching and prayer, plus extra rooms for women to gather. Three people objected to the proposals on grounds of increasing traffic (Derby Evening Telegraph, 26.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 15]

 

Dundee, Hilltown

Muslims in Dundee have appealed for tolerance, claiming a traffic warden was "victimising" Muslims attending Fri day prayers at the mosque in Hilltown. Valy Ossman, a local businessman, said most people wanted to park close to the mosque for fear of attacks on their vehicles, and as there was not enough space next to the mosque to park, some worshippers preferred to park on single yellow lines rather than park further away. He said: "I feel scared because there are a lot of racist guys and when they see Asian guys bobbing out of a car they pop the glass or scratch the paint work." Mr Ossman admitted that he might be parking illegally on the single yellow lines, but not dangerously. He added that many of the people getting parking tickets were "hard-up" members of the community and could not afford to pay parking tickets each week. He also claimed that the single yellow lines were used at other times of the week but people were not issued with parking tickets then. "But every Friday at prayer time the traffic warden appears," he said. "It’s just victimisation. People go to the elec trical shop to do business and they don’t get a ticket. We go to the mosque to do our business with God and we do get a ticket." A spokesman for Tayside Police said the area "is potentially dan gerous due to the fact that Hilltown is narrow and carries a heavy volume of traffic. In order to lessen the danger, double yellow lines are in force to pre vent people parking and obscuring the views of pedestrians and road users. These yellow lines have been in force for a number of years and were there prior to the mosque being purchased. There is, however, a pedestrian crossing just north of the mosque which allows safe crossing for the worshippers and allows them to park their vehicles in the car park on the north side of Ann Street, which has the added security of CCTV. Tayside Police are not unsympathetic to the problems encountered by the wor shippers but would ask for their co-operation by parking in the available spaces nearby" (Dundee Courier & Advertiser, 07.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 15]

 

 

Hainault, London burials

Residents in Hainault have launched a mass protest against plans to create a Muslim burial site catering for 10,000 graves. Residents are worried the ceme tery will have a detrimental effect on the environment and the surrounding community. They are also concerned about the possible contamination of the water supply. The residents collected a 1,200 signature petition and gathered more than 500 letters of objection to send to the council. The Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery Trust pur chased the land in 1998 from London Transport for £146,000. They say they are surprised by the response to the plans. At a meeting to discuss the plans, Farouk Ismail, secretary and trustee of the Muslim Trust, said: "We sent letters inviting the immediate neighbours. Suddenly a lot more appeared and from further afield. I think somebody was being mischievous with the information they have been giving out. There was a lot of misinformation and claims that we are taking over the area, which is untrue. But it was impossible to tell people of the merits of the scheme because of the raised voices" (Ilford Recorder, 15.07.99). Consultants work ing on the scheme say the project will improve the area which has a history of flooding. Neil Chapman, of Austin Smith Lord working on behalf of the Trust, said: "The land has a strong history of flooding, but work already undertaken to clear the stream appears to have prevented this from reoccurring already." He also described how work would be carried out to create a "flood meadow" to divert the risk of overflow away from the burial sites, adding that the site would be shielded by a grid of trees which would "come along as burials progress." Since the meeting, three local councillors issued a joint statement saying: "We believe we must comment jointly and publicly because not all those who have shown concerns are properly informed" (Ilford Recorder, 22.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16/17]

 

 

High Wycombe, Rutland Ave

Muslims in High Wycombe have raised more than £170,000 in two years to buy a pub to convert into an Islamic centre (See BMMS for February 1999). They have already spent more than £20,000 building a perimeter wall around the building to discourage people from tip ping rubbish and abandoning cars. High Wycombe Mosque committee chair man, Abdul Rashid, said: "The site offers substantial space to develop and, for the next ten to fifteen years, it should provide us with enough space to expand." Mr Hanif said the Muslim community had outgrown the mosque in Jubilee Road which was built in 1983. Initially the pub building will be made fit for worship, but later it will provide an Islamic cultural and educa tional centre. The project is expected to take up to three years to complete as the basic source of income is from dona tions at Friday congregations and col lections at local factories and religious festivals. A Chiltern Vale police spokesman said the community had lost one facility but gained another, and said: "We wish the Muslim community well in their endeavours" (Bucks Free Press, 25.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16]

 

 

Morden, London Rd

The design for the new mosque in Morden was set to be approved by the planners at Merton Council (See BMMS for July and September 1998 and April 1999). The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association - whose plans have sparked controversy among some mem bers of the community in the past three years - is developing a former Express Dairies site as its new national head quarters. An officer’s report written for the meeting said: "The proposals would help to make the site a landmark both culturally and architecturally greatly improving the overall appearance of the site in particular and this part of Morden generally." Nearly 60 condi tions were imposed when the planning application was first accepted in 1996 in an attempt to ease residents’ fears of disruption. Attendance numbers were limited, printing press hours of working were restricted and calls to prayer from the minaret were banned. Extra car parking spaces were also provided because of the concerns over traffic chaos likely to result from the number of people attending. It is hoped that the mosque will take 18 months to build once the plans are approved (Wimbledon Guardian, 22.07.99, Wimbledon News, 23.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16]

 

 

Redditch, Smallwood

A fresh planning application could secure the go ahead for a £20 million development on the former Alcad battery site in Smallwood (See BMMS for July, August, September, October and November 1998). And the town’s Muslim community is hoping outline permission will be approved by Redditch Council to build a mosque and community centre. The huge investment will also include a new B&Q superstore. It is the second attempt at redeveloping the site after the initial proposal was called in by the Depart ment of the Environment, Transport and Regions, and the new application has scrapped plans for shops and a pub/ restaurant. Perwaiz Khawaja, chairman of the Redditch New Mosque Project, was eager to see the new plans to discover if the mosque had been moved. He said: "I do hope it will be passed this time and as soon as possible. I do have concerns about the location of the mosque as I have yet to see the plans. If it has shifted to another location it may require further talks, otherwise I am hopeful of it being successful. It will mean having to get fund-raising rolling again and getting the thrust back in the community to get the £300,000 I think we need" (Alcester Chronicle, 30.06.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16]

 

 

Southampton, St Mary’s Rd

Plans to demolish and rebuild a South ampton mosque have been approved. The present mosque will be rebuilt with living accommodation for the imam and facilities for girls and women on the ground floor. A prayer hall, reading room and library will be built on the first floor, under the roof space. It is intended that the mosque will also be used for out-of-hours activities for child ren in the surrounding community. The new mosque will also link up to the new Medina Mosque, currently under construction further up St Mary’s Road. Councillor Parvin Damani said: "This development is very important to the community" (Bournemouth Daily Echo, 21.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16]

 

 

Tooting, Upper Tooting Rd

A major works programme is currently underway at an old cinema building in Tooting. A £171,709 Tooting Initiative grant was awarded by Wandsworth Council to repair and redecorate the existing front facade, install a full length canopy to the front entrance and install new windows. Balham Mosque, which has held tenancy of the building since 1993, has renovated the interior to provide a range of facilities at a cost of up to £500,000 funded by private and trade donations from the Muslim community. It is a registered charity and its main objective is to provide facilities and services to meet the religious, cultural and social needs of the deve loping Muslim community. Regenera tion and transport committee chairman, Councillor Kathy Tracey, said: "This prominent building was identified by the council as of strategic importance in the Tooting area’s townscape under the Tooting Initiative Scheme. Securing this improvement to the building’s appearance was one of the milestone projects of this programme aimed at the regeneration of the area...The improve ments made possible by this grant complement the extensive interior work carried out by the main tenant, Balham Mosque." Iqbal Khalfey, Project Co-ordinator at the mosque, said: "As the building was formerly a cinema, exten sive work was undertaken to transform the auditorium. This involved the removal of steps and seats and the creation of floor space. We have now created a total of 16 classrooms and a separate main hall which members of the Balham Mosque will use for prayer sessions and cultural activities." (Wandsworth Borough News, 16.07.99, Wandsworth Borough Guardian, 22.07.99). [BMMS July 1999 Vol. VII, No. 7, p. 16]

 

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