Plan For New British-Muslim Identity Islamic School Offers Antidote To ‘Modern’ Extremism

LONDON: Two hundred students, giggling and gathering on the playground, are the best antidote to Islamic extremism, although they may not realise it yet. Students at Britain’s first state-funded Islamic school are pint-sized but carry the huge responsibility of forging a new identity for Muslims, one which is neither secular nor extremist, but “organic, dynamic and chaotic”, according to their headmaster. “We’re creating a British-Muslim identity and ethic, and we’re not in the business of preserving any particular culture,” Abdullah Trevathan said, describing the motley group of 23 nationalities, mostly of mixed descent, that make up the Islamiya Primary School. The youths are famous across Britain, and not just because their north London school was founded by the folksinger Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, in 1983. A decade after winning state funding-a right long accorded to Protestant and Catholic schools-they now attend one of the top primary schools in the country, learning the required state curriculum, plus religion and Arabic. At seven, pupils begin attending services at the mosque. Headscarves are optional for the youngest, and become part of the uniform at nine years of age. Cartesian analysis, questioning and debate are encouraged, replacing madrassa-style rote learning of the Quran. At its founding, during the era of Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher, there were “fears about us having Molotov cocktail classes”, Trevathan told AFP in a recent interview. Such blatant Islamophobia has been largely silenced in the wake of Islamiya’s successes and in some ways the school has become iconic of the diversity touted by Britain’s Labour-led government. But the chief English schools inspector touched off fresh debate in January, worrying publicly that Islamic schools could pose a “challenge to our coherence as a nation”. Five of some 100 Muslim schools in England are now state funded, with the rest independent, and are joined by more than 50 Jewish schools and about 100 Evangelical Christian schools-in addition to existing Catholic and Protestant structures. Far from teaching radicalism and separatism, Islamiya has become a model of diversity, preaching tolerance not only to students but their families and the larger community, assembled from a jumble of Sunni and Shiite Muslim, Arab, Asian and European, privileged and poor backgrounds. “Islam is not served by centralization, it is served by diversity,” Trevathan said. The school’s adherence to traditional classical Islam, or the “scholastic approach responding to the problems of modern-day Britain”, contrasts with the “modernist” stand he said was embodied by both secularists and fundamentalists seeking to impose their uniform, universal view.

OSCE Concerned At Dutch Climate Of Fear For Muslims

By Emma Thomasson AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Europe’s main democracy and rights watchdog expressed concern on Friday about increasing Dutch intolerance towards Muslims that was fanned by the murder last year of a filmmaker critical of Islam. Omur Orhun, ambassador on combating discrimination against Muslims for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was in the Netherlands to discuss the position of Muslim immigrants. “Holland was reputed to be a country of tolerance where integration, as compared to other European countries, had been achieved acceptably. But recent events have shown there is a problem,” he told a news conference ending a three-day visit. “Especially from representatives of some civil society organisations there were repeatedly feelings of fear expressed. Not claims of physical attacks or abuse, but a climate of fear.” Home to almost 1 million Muslims or 6 percent of the population, the country’s reputation for tolerance and social harmony was shattered by the murder last November of outspoken filmmaker Theo van Gogh and its violent aftermath. A Dutch-Moroccan man was charged with the killing, allegedly motivated by Van Gogh’s criticism of Islam. Dozens of mosques, and Muslim schools were attacked in apparent retaliation. Orhun, who met Dutch politicians as well as Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese migrant groups and human rights organisations, said the fact the government had invited him to visit the country showed it wanted to tackle the situation. “There is a problem in Holland as far as tolerance and non-discrimination is concerned,” he said. “But the situation is not tragic and the problem can solved with common sense and trying to build bridges.” The Turkish diplomat said tension was on the rise in many Western countries over Muslim immigrants and said he hoped to visit the United States, Germany, France and Britain soon. “There is mistrust and stigmatisation of Muslims and a growing fault line between the Muslim communities and the host societies,” Orhun said. Orhun recommended that Islam should not be politicised by countries that are home to Muslim migrants or by the immigrants themselves, who must also do more to distance themselves from radicalism and condemn violence committed in Islam’s name. Western governments could also do more to counter stigmatising of Muslim youths, for example by helping them get apprenticeships for jobs, he said. “The sense of being accepted would tend to decrease this radicalisation. Equal opportunities would also create lesser possibilities, lesser chances of radicalisation,” he said.

31,800 Islamist Radicals In Germany: Schily

BERLIN – The number of mainly Turkish Islamist extremists based in Germany increased slightly last year, Interior Minister Otto Schily said on Tuesday at a news conference releasing the 2004 report by the country’s domestic security agency. There were 31,800 Islamist radicals resident in Germany at the end of 2004, up from 30,950 in 2003, said the report, which stressed that this was a mere one percent of the three million Muslims living in the country. Police and prosecutors are currently investigating 171 cases linked to Islamist terrorism, he said. The biggest group in Germany is the Turkish Islamic Community Milli Goerues, with 26,500 members, which wants to create an Islamic republic in Turkey. Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network is present in Germany but the report admitted there were no concrete figures on the number of Al- Qaeda sleepers still present in the country. Several of the extremists responsible for the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington lived in Germany disguised as students before travelling to the US. The report said about 850 members of the radical Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah are based in Germany, as well as 1,300 members of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood and 350 member of various Algerian Islamist groups. Schily also reported that neo-Nazi crime in Germany increased last year, but that the overall number of rightists declined. There were 12,051 rightist crimes reported in 2004, up from 10,792 in 2003. Violent neo-Nazi crime was up slightly with 776 reported cases in 2004, compared to 759 cases in 2003. The biggest increase was in propaganda offences, such as display of banned Nazi symbols and giving the Nazi salute, which is prohibited under German law. There were 8,337 such offences last year, up from 7,551 in 2003. Germany’s leading right-wing extremist party, the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD), is recruiting from the skinhead and neo-Nazi movement, said Schily. The NPD grew to 5,300 members, up from 5,000 in 2003, the report said. This, however, is still less than its previous high of 6,100 members in 2002. An attempt by Schily to ban the NPD was struck down by Germany’s highest court in 2003 – to the minister’s great anger. “The (NPD) party leader describes the super-criminal Hitler as a great statesman,” said Schily with a dismissive wave of his hand. Schily expressed alarm over growth of the neo-Nazi and skinhead movements. While the number remains small – 3,800 people – this is a 25 percent increase over the previous year. Overall, there was a decline in the number of Germans in right-wing extremist parties and movements. At the end of 2004 there was 40,700 people in such groups, down from 41,500 in 2003, the report said. Schily also expressed anger on Tuesday over repeated linking of his policies with those of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler by a Turkish newspaper. “I think it’s a scandal,” said Schily, who called on the Turkish government to take action against the radical Islamist newspaper, Vakit, adding that if Ankara lacked legal means to do so, it should consider creating them. Vakit was banned in Germany by Schily earlier this year owing to its anti-Semitic content. Since then, the paper has featured Schily and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder on its front page in photomontages with a swastika armband or a Nazi flag.

Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes On Rise In Us: Study

Hate crimes against Muslims soared in the United States last year, according to a report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations released Wednesday. The number of hate crimes against members of the Muslim community jumped 52 per cent last year, from 93 incidents in 2003 to 141 in 2004. And the number of violent acts, discriminatory incidents and cases of harassment against Muslims rose 49 per cent between 2003 and 2004, to 1,522. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called the figures alarming and urged President George W Bush-‘whose statements after the (September 11, 2001) attacks were so important in helping to protect the well-being of the American Muslim community-to once again speak out against Islam phobic attitudes.’ The Annual Report Noted That Workplace Discrimination Against Muslims Was Less prevalent, while incidents involving police were on the rise, in the form of unjustified arrests and searches and abusive interrogations. Among the factors contributing to the rise in incidents, CAIR said, were the ‘lingering impact’ of fears following the September 11 attacks, heightened awareness of civil rights issues within the Muslim community and a ‘general increase in anti-Muslim rhetoric.’ ‘These disturbing figures come as no surprise given growing Islam phobic sentiments and a general misperception of Islam and Muslims,’ CAIR’s legal director, Arsalan Iftikhar, who authored the report, said in a statement.

Religion is More than a Class on Morality

Muslims entering the fifth grade have a free hour while Catholic and Protestant students take religious instruction. The state of Berlin is looking to remedy this situation by creating a value instruction course to replace for those who do not take religious instruction. This has created a new controversy in the ongoing conflict in Berlin schools. Some religious individuals feel this is an inappropriate equivalence between religion and values, while other individuals feel that it can’t help but do some good, at least as far as tolerance goes. Another suggestion is to have everybody attend various religious instructions including both their own and others. {(continued in German)} Ein Moslem, der in die f_nfte Klasse geht, hat frei oder Hohlstunde, w_hrend seine katholischen und protestantischen Klassenkameraden den Religionsuntericht besuchen. Von Franziska Kleiner Sollen Sch_ler in einen Werte- oder Religionsunterricht gehen? Der Streit entz_ndete sich an der Berliner Schulpolitik . Die Auseinandersetzung in der Hauptstadt hatte sich zugespitzt, nachdem auf dem SPD-Landesparteitag mehrheitlich beschlossen wurde, in Berlin einen f_r alle Sch_ler verbindlichen Werteunterricht einzuf_hren. Religon sollte dagegen Wahlfach sein, das nach dem regul_ren Unterricht abzuhalten sei. Auf Landesebene hat die baden-w_rttembergische Kultusministerin Dr. Annette Schavan (CDU) eine eindeutige Meinung. Sie lehnt die Gleichstellung von Religionsunterricht und Ethikunterricht ab: Der konfessionsgebundene Religionsunterricht habe einen Verfassungsrang, der nicht mit einem allgemeinen Werteunterricht gleichgesetzt werden k_nne. Im _brigen sei die Ein_bung ethischer Grundhaltungen zentrale Aufgabe der Schulen in allen F_chern. Die Schulleiter in Leonberg sind in der Diskussion unterschiedlicher Meinung. Reiner Diebold etwa, Rektor der Grund- und Hauptschule in H_fingen bef_rwortet den Werteunterricht f_r die Hauptsch_ler, wenn sie Klasse f_nf bis sieben besuchen. Bislang, so berichtet er, ist der Ethikunterricht f_r all jene, die nicht den Religionsunterricht besuchen, erst ab Klasse acht verbindlich. In den ersten drei Jahren in der Hauptschule haben sie statt dessen frei – weil Religionsunterricht meist Randstunden sind – oder aber eine Hohlstunde. W_re Ethikunterricht verpflichtend auch in der Unterstufe, so k_nnte man diesen Sch_lern ein Angebot machen, sagt der Rektor einer Grund- und Hauptschule, an der der Anteil ausl_ndischer Sch_ler hoch ist. Auch Dietrich Besch, Schulleiter des Beruflichen Schulzentrums, h_lt die Wertevermittlung f_r wichtig. Nicht nur der Religionsunterricht werde gem?_ der Landesverfassung angeboten, Ethikunterricht sei verbindlich im Vollzeitbereich. Ethikunterricht in der Hauptschule nicht erst ab Klasse acht sondern fr_her anzubieten w_re sch_n, best_tigt Brigitte Spiess, Rektorin der August-L_mmle-Schule im Ramtel. Sie ist sich allerdings wohl bewusst, dass dies auch eine Kostenfage sei. In der Grundschule allerding sollte an Religionsunterricht festgehalten werden, so Diebold weiter, um den Kindern den christlich-abendl_ndischen Grundgedanken zu vermitteln. Die wichtige Vorbereitung auf Kommunion und Konfirmation nennt er dabei in diesem Zusammenhang. Religion ist mehr als Werteunterricht, formuliert es Gabriele Mader. Schlie_lich gehe es doch darum, bei den Kindern ein Urvertrauen zu schaffen. Die Schulleiterin der Sophie-Scholl-Schule berichtet, dass seit dem Schuljahr 1997/1998 jeweils in der ersten und zweiten Klasse konfessionell-kooperativer Unterricht angeboten wird. Das bedeutet: Jeweils ein Jahr unterrichtet ein evagelischer, dann ein katholischer Religionslehrer die gesamte Klasse in Religion. Dass es nur wenige Abmeldungen von diesem Unterricht gebe, wertet sei als Best_tigtung f_r diesen Modellversuch, der demn_chst zu einem regul_ren Unterrichtsfach werden soll. Es sei eine Bereicherung, wenn etwa Protestanten und Katholiken, Kinder des griechisch-orthodoxen Glaubens und Moslems gemeinsam unterrichtet werden. Auch gehe es darum, Toleranz zu lehren, so Mader. Das ist auch Hans-Peter D_ring wichtig. Der Konrektor des Albert-Schweitzer-Gymnasiums erachtet es als wichtig, dass im konfessionsgebunden Unterricht auch _ber den Tellerrand hinaus geschaut werde. Einen weiteren Aspekt f_gt Reinhold Rankl, Rektor der Ostertag-Realschule, an: “Werteunterricht ist wichtig und ist auch im Religionsunterricht sehr gut untergebracht”. Er nennt als Beispiel die zehn Gebote. Weitere Werte und Normen etwa, werden tagt_glich im Unterricht gelehrt.

Galloway Triumphant As Blair Ally Punished At Polls Over Iraq; Blair Loyalist Beaten By Anti-Iraq War Candidate In Muslim-Dominated Seat

LONDON – Muslim voters delivered a stinging rebuke to British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Friday over the Iraq war, voting a loyal member of his Labour Party out of office in favour of an anti-war candidate. In a major upset, Blair loyalist Oona King — who strongly backed the March 2003 conflict supported by the prime minister — lost her Bethnal Green and Bow seat in east London to George Galloway from the left-wing Respect Party. “Mr Blair, this is for Iraq. All the people you killed, all the lies you told have come back to haunt you and and the best thing the Labour Party could do is sack you tomorrow morning as soon as they get back to work,” Galloway told cheering supporters following the announcement. Galloway, a former Labour deputy thrown out of the party for defying Blair over the war, specifically targeted King as her seat contains a high proportion of Muslim voters, mainly of Bangladeshi origin. King, who is half-Jewish and half-black, won her seat in 1997 at only 30 years of age and proved a popular local MP, winning a 10,000-vote majority in the 2001 election. However in Thursday’s election, she lost out of Galloway by just over 800 votes. Such a turnaround reflects the bitter feelings the Iraq war provoked in many British Muslims, as well as a fearsome campaign by Galloway. The election battle between King and Galloway, a flamboyant political veteran known as “gorgeous George”, was perhaps the most bitter individual fight in the entire election. King accused Respect activists of spreading word among the 40-percent Muslim district that she was Jewish to hurt her chances, something Galloway’s officials vehemently denied. Unknown attackers threw eggs at King at a Holocaust memorial service, and she was later again pelted with eggs and had her car tires slashed by a gang of youths protesting her support for the Iraq war. Galloway also placed himself under heightened security after being threatened with death by a group of Islamic extremists. Blair has acknowledged that Britons remain divided over the conflict, but on Friday said that he felt they wanted to “move on” and look toward the future. The vote results indicate otherwise, countered the Liberal Democrats, pointing to the “significant impact” the party had on battles across the country, where its candidates often gained in the popular vote although they did not win. “I attribute some of that to the anti-war platform, but our other policies have also played a significant role,” said deputy party president Fiyaz Mughal. “In areas where there are higher minority populations, which will primarily vote for us because of Iraq, you’re having major swings,” Mughal said, pointing to areas like immigrant-heavy Hornsey and Wood Green, north London, where the Liberal Democrat candidate overcame a gap of more than 12,000 votes to oust a Labour incumbent. “There is clearly a lot of disaffection among British Muslims about the Iraq war, the application of draconian anti-terror laws and the manner in which sections of the media have used sensationalism to stigmatize our entire community,” Iqbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the umbrella organization the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a statement. The council, which had urged the country’s 1.6 million Muslims to vote, said the results showed that Iraq had clearly become a “mainstream concern”. Analysts said the Iraq question affected non-Muslim voters by undermining Blair’s trustworthiness. The premier “lost the public relations war,” Chris Brown at the London School of Economics said. Still, several direct challenges to Labour heavyweights over Iraq failed, including a contest in Blair’s home constituency of Sedgefield, northern England by Reg Keys, the father of a soldier who died in Iraq in June 2003. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw also beat off challenges in his closely-watched race in Blackburn, near Manchester in northwest England, where 25 percent of the voters are Muslim.

A Taste For Halal Meat; Butchers Using Traditional Islamic Slaughtering Practices Find Niche In Market

For three hours, Imad Rababe helped slit the throats of more than 100 goats and lambs at his white cinderblock slaughterhouse near Hagerstown, murmuring a quick blessing to Allah with each flick of his sharpened knife then immediately hoisting the animals by their feet on hooks to drain the blood. It’s a tough business, Rababe said. Turnover is high among his eight employees, most of them Muslim immigrants who could not find other jobs. In addition to teaching them the Islamic style of slaughter, Rababe must also shop for livestock, drum up business, track orders and collect payments — often using his limited English to communicate with customers who do not speak Arabic. But as the Washington area’s Muslim population grows, so do Rababe’s moneymaking opportunities. Because the Koran instructs mankind to eat meat that is “halal,” the Arabic word for lawful, devout Muslims are willing to pay a premium for the type of product Rababe sells at his Hamzah Slaughter House LLC in Williamsport. These days, more than 140 of the region’s restaurants and grocery stores advertise themselves as halal, according to Zabihah.com, a Web site that posts reviews of halal food establishments across the country. When Rababe, a native of Lebanon, arrived in the United States in 1978, only a few did. Now at least three major halal meat suppliers serve the region, including Rababe, who says he slaughters 500 to 700 animals a week for his wholesale and retail customers. “Look, I’m not from Harvard. I have no high school education, no nothing,” said Rababe, a practicing Muslim who learned the trade from his father in Lebanon. “But this is the business I know best. It serves the Muslim community, and it makes me financially comfortable.” The fledgling halal business remains far less established than the kosher trade, its Jewish cousin, and there are no reliable estimates of how much halal meat is sold in the Washington area. But it is no longer relegated to traditional kabob houses or ethnic grocery stores either, as new immigrants and others seek out products consistent with their religious practice. Pizza Roma in College Park serves pizzas with halal meat toppings, and Double A Burgers & Shakes in Springfield Mall offers “homemade, halal burgers hot off the grill.” Some Giant Food and Shoppers Food Warehouse stores stock frozen halal chicken nuggets and other products from Al Safa Halal Inc. in Canada. Even the White House does its part, ordering halal for visiting Muslim dignitaries. “For decades we conformed because we really didn’t have much choice” when it came to meeting Islamic dietary needs, said Muhammad Chaudry, president of the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a nonprofit group in Chicago that certifies halal meat. “That’s changing.” Mohammad Abdul-Mateen Chida, owner of Halalco Supermarket in Falls Church, recalled how he slaughtered his own chickens when he arrived in the United States in the mid-1960s, for lack of better options. A decade later, when he started selling meat at Halalco, he scoured the region for a place that would allow him to slaughter animals for his retail customers. He ended up slaughtering cattle in Baltimore, goats and lambs in Manassas, and chickens near Frederick. But it wasn’t an easy sell, he said. Most plants scoffed at disrupting their production lines for a low-volume slaughter that would generate little money for them, Chida said. “Now there are so many places I trust to do these things for me,” Chida said. In Islam, the Koran bans followers from eating swine, carnivores and birds of prey no matter how they are slaughtered. Muslims are allowed to eat other animals that meet two requirements, said Imam Mahmoud Abdel-Hady of Dar al-Taqwa mosque in Columbia: They must be slaughtered from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned as the animals are killed. From the hadith — compendiums on how the Muslim prophet Muhammed lived– Muslims are also taught that animals must be well rested, fed wholesome foods and handled in a way that minimizes suffering during slaughter, Abdel-Hady said. That is why the butcher must use a sharp knife and prevent one animal from witnessing the slaughter of another, he said. It is undesirable to sever the animal’s neck because preserving the spinal cord is less painful to the animal and maintains the convulsive movements necessary to rapidly drain its blood — another requirement, according to the Islamic Center in the District. The time involved and the labor-intensive requirements boost the price of halal meat, said Jim Williams of Midamar Corp., a Muslim-owned halal meat company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Midamar has 92 customers in the Washington area. Some cuts of halal beef can be as much as 20 cents a pound more expensive than the mass-produced beef slaughtered by the conventional “stun and stick” method, Williams said. Adding to the price is the cost of hiring a company to certify meat as halal. The extra costs help explain why the four companies that slaughter 80 percent of federally inspected cattle in this country — Tyson Fresh Meats Inc., Excel Corp., Swift & Co. and National Beef Packing Co. — do not do religious slaughter, Williams said. “It slows down their production lines,” he said. “The plants doing a kosher or halal slaughter have to get a premium for their meat because they can’t slaughter as many animals in a day.” Abdul Baig, owner of Pizza Roma in College Park, said the higher price of turkey ham, beef pepperoni and halal chicken breasts cut into his profit, but he said he hopes that as demand for halal grows, so will his pocketbook. He converted to halal agreements slowly after buying the restaurant five years ago. “If I’m going to practice my religion this is all part of it,” said Baig, a Muslim from Pakistan who, for religious reasons, also does not sell alcohol. “I cannot sell food that is not halal or sell beer and then go home and start praying. I cannot earn money from something that is not allowed.” The halal business is fraught with marketing headaches, many stemming from well-founded apprehension among Muslim consumers about the authenticity of products marketed as halal. In 1997, the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service fined Washington Lamb Inc. in Springfield $15,000 for fraudulently mislabeling and selling ordinary meats as halal, after the owner pleaded guilty to related charges in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, according to the agency. Because of similar problems, California, New Jersey and four other states have enacted laws fining anyone who sells or advertises meat as halal when it is not. A group of Muslims in Virginia is pushing for similar legislation in their state, said Habib Ghanim Sr., president of the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce, which distributes information about halal meat and non-meat products from its offices in the District and Silver Spring. The group has 30 members, mostly meat and poultry companies, Ghanim said. Part of the problem is that there is no standard authority to certify halal meat and poultry. Slaughterhouses that sell halal meat are inspected by the Agriculture Department, but the agency oversees only food safety issues. Certification is left to dozens of individuals or groups, some more reputable than others. Then there are issues open to interpretation. Can the slaughterhouse pipe in recorded prayers to make the lines move faster? If halal meat is not available, would a prayer before eating suffice? Can a company’s meat be halal if its owner or workers are not Muslim? “It’s a very sensitive topic, and there are many issues that need to be resolved,” Ghanim said. “The final responsibility is on the person selling it who claims it to be halal. Ultimately, it is between him and his creator.” Al Safa, the Canadian company that supplies frozen halal products to area stores, initially was involved in controversy when word got out that its owner is an orthodox Jew. But, according to many Muslims who sell Al Safa products, the company overcame doubts when it hired Muslims to do its marketing and slaughtering. Al Safa also adopt
ed an open-door policy under which anyone can visit its facilities unannounced, said Steve Hahn, the company’s vice president. The policy includes the three plants where its Muslim slaughter teams work. “We’ve received hundreds and hundreds of [mostly Muslim] visitors to witness our slaughter” since Al Safa started selling halal products in 1997, Hahn said. But it will probably take time for halal meats to gain a foothold in conventional supermarkets because many halal-meat shoppers feel more comfortable shopping in ethnic stores, Hahn said. Giant, which carries Al Safa products in only 15 stores nationwide, said that the line sold well when it was introduced about two years ago but that sales waned when coupon offers and other promotions ended. Malik Abbas, owner of Pakeeza Market in Gaithersburg, said reputation plays a key role in the halal marketplace. Before he opened his store about three years ago, he would drive far from his home in Gaithersburg to butchers he trusted in Baltimore or Virginia. “My wife would prefer to stay hungry if she can’t find the halal meat,” said Abbas, a Muslim from Pakistan. But Abbas said many of his customers are not necessarily driven by faith. Some come because they swear halal meat has a different taste, he said. Others come because they believe halal meat is more wholesome. Sayeed Quraishi, a retired scientist at the National Institutes of Health, comes to Pakeeza Market because of the mutton chops. They’re hard to find elsewhere. But if he is in the mood for chicken, he picks up Perdue. As Abbas wrapped up Quraishi’s mutton chops, six in one-pound packages, Quraishi apologized to his friend for his bluntness. “You will probably go to heaven,” Quraishi told Abbas. “And I will be your servant.”

It’s Hindus Versus Muslims In Uk Polls

By RASHMEE ROSHAN LAL LONDON: Here’s a hard, ugly fact: Just three four days to Election Day and Britain’s Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims are flexing lingual muscle, the only political organ in an Asian body made up of an estimated three-million people. But, here’s the beautiful fiction: the Asian vote can make or break disparate British politicians in at least 60 constituencies up and down the country. And another untruth: the Asian political voice is loud and clear and Britain’s politicians would be foolish to tune it out. So, there is lots of talk. Jagtar Singh of the Sikh Federation, the UK’s first and only Sikh political party with aspirations to represent the 336,000 Sikhs totted up by the census, tells TOI: “The Sikh vote matters in about 40 to 50 key constituencies, marginals, where there are a large number of Sikh votes and where there are (Labour) cabinet and junior Ministers that ‘depend’ on the Sikh vote.” Adds Hasmukh Shah of the VHP, which has aspirations to speak for the UK’s 750,000 Hindus, “The Hindu vote matters materially in at least nine key constituencies.” Says Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain, which is urging its 1.2 million co-religionists to ‘Help make the Muslim vote count’: “At least 11 constituencies have the highest Muslim vote. There, they can make a difference.” But here’s the sad reality, says Lord Bhikhu Parekh, leading academic and author of several books on the dilemmas of policy in multi-ethnic Britain.” Britain’s Asian community is politically unimportant. Unlike the Afro-Caribbeans, it has no cabinet or even junior ministers. It has no great leaders. If the Asian community matters, it matters only because of its numerical strength in some areas. At the end of the day, that doesn’t count for much.” Punters agree on the state of Asian political impotence. Many believe Asian political disinterest is starkly revealed by the shocking fact that Asians will not automatically support Asian candidates in at least four key constituencies. Instead, the Asian vote in Gujarati Muslim-dominant Blackburn, Sikh-dominant Wolverhampton South and Edinburgh West and Muslim-Hindu-dominant Leicester South is expected to go to white candidates. Explains Jagtar Singh: “I know we have Sandy Parmar, a Sikh woman married to a Hindu, standing in Wolverhampton South. But she is not a practising Sikh. The Sikh community would be loathe to lose its sympathetic MP, the Labour incumbent Rob Marris. He has done a lot on Sikh issues. Sikhs don’t care if their Wolverhampton South MP is Sikh or not. They do care that he is interested in Sikh issues.” Says Baan Singh, who is visibly disinterested in co-religionist and incumbent Leicester South MP Parmjit Singh Gill, “He may be one of ours, but what will we gain from voting for him?” Adds Zafar Sareshwala, a businessman from Ahmedabad, whoruns a financial services company in the Gujarati Muslim dominant north-western English constituency of Dewsbury, “It’s interesting that Gujarati Muslim Imtiaz Ameen, who is challenging Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in the Gujarati Muslim-dominant Blackburn constituency, may even lose his deposit. Gujarati Muslims would prefer to vote for the man who has done something for them, rather than voting for just another Gujarati Muslim.” Parekh says the palpable Asian disaffection with Asian candidates stems from the complete failure to make a mark by the seven Asian MPs in the last parliament. Says Parekh, “Out of all the Asian MPs, everyone who claims to speak for the community, there has been no political heavyweight, no one who could justifiably be seen as the Asian Paul Boateng.” Many agree Britain’s Asians are very far away from producing a Paul Boateng, Parekh’s reference to the articulate, highly-educated, urbane Afro-Caribbean Labour cabinet minister now destined to be Britain’s high commissioner in South Africa. Boateng is close to Tony Blair and enjoyed a glittering career as a lawyer before he rose to the very highest ranks of government. Laments Sareshwala, “the Asian marginalisation has happened because the British Asian is too preoccupied with making money.” He insists: “If UK Muslims, or British Asians as a whole want to matter, they have to adopt the Jewish model of empowerment. They need to get into important positions in the media. They need to join political parties at university level. The educated and talented Asian needs to go into politics rather than only trying to become rich.” But still the Sikh, Hindu and Muslim drumroll continues: make your vote count because it can make or break the government. Reading between the lines, that may be the British government of 2050, not the one elected in 2005.

Muslims March Against Uk Terror Laws

Up to 2000 people from more than 50 Islamic organisations in Britain have demonstrated in London to condemn what they called heavy-handed procedures in the fight against global terrorism. “The basic message is that the Muslim community wants to voice its opposition to what it views as the oppression of the war on terror,” said Imran Wahid of Hizb ut-Tahrir, one of the groups behind the protest march. He said Muslims were angered by so-called control orders imposed by the British authorities on terrorism suspects, and by the US detention of terrorism suspects without trial at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There were no incidents as the protesters – led by a banner reading United Against the Oppression of War on Terror – made their way to Paddington Green police station in west London, where terrorism suspects are questioned. “It is kind of symbolic because a lot of people are taken there and released without charge a couple of days later,” Wahid said. The march occurred five days before a general election in Britain which Prime Minister Tony Blair hopes will give his Labour Party a third straight term in office.