Many young Muslims commit to religious marriage, but do not register officially

A growing number of young Muslims in the UK are entering marriages that are not legally recognized. This is because couples are having an Islamic wedding (nikah) without the civil ceremony needed for the marriage to be recognized under British law.

Family lawyer Aina Khan says that she is dealing with an increasing number of cases where mostly young Muslims have a nikah, planning to have a civil ceremony later, but then never to it. She said: “‘My colleagues and I are having to deal with hundreds of cases where things have gone wrong because the wedding has not been registered.”

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, the head of Britain’s Muslim Parliament, says the lives of many Muslim women are being ruined because their Islamic marriages are not legally recognized. “This allows Muslim men to control their wives because they can threaten to leave them and end the Islamic marriage by just saying the words ‘divorce, divorce divorce’ to her,” he said. He furthermore claims that this practice fosters polygamy.

Report urges recognition of British Muslim diversity

The diversity of Britain’s Muslim population must be recognised and more done to engage overlooked groups in order to tackle extremism, gang culture and community tensions, a report said today. Researchers spoke to more than 4,000 members of Muslim communities and those engaged with local groups, for the report by the Institute of Community Cohesion (ICC). Britain has “probably the most diverse Muslim community in the world” with at least 15 large ethno-national Muslim communities, the report found. However councils and government too often relied on the “usual suspects” – often Muslims from the Pakistani community – when wanting Muslim opinion. That meant other groups were misrepresented and stoked resentment. Pressure on Muslim communities to distance themselves from extremism had also increased tensions between Muslim groups. “We came across many Muslims of various affiliations in positions of influence identifying other Muslims as extremist or militant. Whilst these accusations were not always unfounded, in most cases the sentiments were due to ignorance, prejudice and antagonism,” ICC local studies found. Outside pressures also increased tensions. Researchers found the US invasion of Somalia encouraged young men from one Somali community to travel to the country to fight. With a clear nod to Iraq the ICC report said predicting the impact of international events on communities in Britain was crucial and needed national co-ordination.

British Medical Students’ Picky Objections

A few weeks after the controversy surrounding Muslim staff at Sainsbury’s refusing to serve alcohol, it comes to light that medical students are following suit. The British Medical Association (BMA) confirmed that a small percentage of Britain’s Muslim medical students are claiming religious offence and are thus refusing to attend lectures related to sexually transmitted diseases as well as alcohol, with trainees using Islam’s banning of sexual promiscuity and alcohol to defend their claims. Emdad Rahman reports.

France, Uk To Beef Up Muslim Recruitment

Senior officials and experts from Britain and France agreed Thursday to recruit more Muslims to help fight the spread of radical Islam in their countries. Some of the officials, who met at the British embassy in Paris, told journalists that the governments were not aiming at imposing quotas but rather “recruitment objectives”. The need to have Muslims in the police and other administrations was made clear in the investigation into the July attacks on London’s transport system, which found that the bombers came from Britain’s Muslim community. One official, Mark Carroll, head of the Cohesion, Faith and Equalities unit of Britain’s Home Office, said that “the public services can only effectively serve the communities if they include representatives from those communities.” Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said that Britain and France had to find ways to channel the anger often nurtured in their respective Muslim communities into legal avenues, and that part of the anger stemmed from a feeling of being misunderstood by authorities. Hiring more Muslims to communicate with those communities would be one way of attenuating that feeling of alienation, she said.

Cameron Tries Reaching Out To Muslims

David Hogg TORY leadership candidate David Cameron yesterday warned his party to engage with Britain’s Muslim community but was immediately accused of offering little more for ethnic minorities than the Government. On a whistlestop tour of West Yorkshire, Mr Cameron met community leaders at the Leeds Islamic Centre to discuss the aftermath of the July bombings in London and their response to the South Asia earthquake. Offering a number of ideas designed to prevent alienation of British Muslims, but lacking any sweeping policy initiatives, the Witney MP failed to impress after he was challenged over his stance on the war in Iraq. When asked by Arshad Hanif, 45, whether he was in favour of the war Mr Cameron said: “I did support the war. I thought it was the right decision at the time. I don’t think there’s a link between 7/7 and the Iraq war.” He added: “Clearly some people make a link between the war in Iraq and the anger they feel but there is absolutely no justification for turning that anger into violence.” Mr Hanif, who sat with other Asian leaders in a semi-circle either side of the Tory leadership contender, said: “He wasn’t giving us a clear choice between himself and Mr Blair. It is troublesome that he is saying that the war in Iraq was not related to what happened in London.” Mr Cameron also said more could be done to encourage Muslims to join the Conservatives party and stand as MPs.

War On Terror Contributing To Growing Race Crimes

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has warned that racist crime in the country is rising because of the ongoing War on Terror. Figures published by the CPS and reported by The Indepnedent show prosecutions of racially aggravated offences have increased by 2,500 since race-hate laws were introduced in 1999. In the past two years, those prosecutions have jumped by more than 20 per cent. Last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions warned that a growth in race-hate crime and a sharp rise in the number of young Asian men being stopped by the police threatened to alienate Britain’s Muslim communities. The CPS said there was also evidence of inter-racial religious hatred crime. Between April 2003 and the end of March 2004, the CPS dealt with 4,728 racially aggravated cases and prosecuted 3,616 of them. The figures also suggest other cases are not being prosecuted because of difficulties getting witnesses to give evidence in court. The CPS has pledged to tackle race crimes more vigorously after a report by its independent inspectorate in May 2002 found prosecutors were wrongly reducing charges in more than one in four racist incidents. Charges of racially aggravated crimes were regularly downgraded to remove the race element, while in other cases prosecutors accepted defendants’ guilty pleas to the crime minus the racial aggravation. The conviction rate for all those charged remains high at 86 per cent compared to 85 per cent in 2002-2003. The breakdown of religiously aggravated offences mirrors racially aggravated offences. Public order was the predominant offence followed by assault, criminal damage and harassment. The majority of the charges were prosecuted in the magistrates’ courts. In magistrates’, crown and youth courts the overall conviction rate was 77 per cent on religiously aggravated charges and 86 per cent on all charges. (ANI)

Disaffection Among British Muslim Youth

There is a political debate within Britain’s Muslim youth – and it is getting louder in the wake of continued scrutiny of their communities and faith. It is taking many forms and the outcome is uncertain. What is clear is that it is not just about how their world changed following the September 11 attacks – it’s about what it is to be British and Muslim, and disaffection with their place in society.