Closure of prayer room in the University of East Anglia upsets Muslim students

11 June 2012


British Muslims have always expressed their displeasure for their situation in the British Higher education system. Unlike other religious groups such as Christians and Jews who have mostly found their place in the system due to their long history in Britain, Muslim students have always found it difficult to live in the system that at best tries to tolerate rather than welcome them. Thus, most of the time there is a lack of basic services including prayer facilities in the campus.


In a recent example of this, the University of East Anglia decided to close their prayer room which in return received negative reactions from the Muslim students.

UK football fans and players distance British Muslims from supporting England in the European Cup

12 June 2012

Nooruddean Choudry of the Guardian, in his piece explains why racist motives included in the celebrations of the England fans and racist accusations against the team members make it difficult for British Muslims to support the national team. Choudry argues that references to the Crusades in England fans celebrations, which has been associated with bloody campaigns against Muslim lands in the name of Christianity, has indeed distanced Muslim fans from supporting the national team.

Muslim Groups Urge British Muslims to Participate in the Electoral Process

1 May 2012

Muslim interest in the British political process has traditionally been low. Due to alienation and lack of trust in the system the Muslim minority has shown a very limited turn out in the election. Muslims organizations have been trying to tackle this problem and raise awareness amongst Muslims to be more active in the political system.

Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), which represents more than 500 Islamic organisations in Britain, has urged British Muslims to cast their votes prior to local elections.

New Survey Reveals: Britain’s Muslims Proud and Optimistic

Results of a new survey conducted by the British think tank Demos show that British Muslims feel a greater sense of pride in being British than the population as a whole and that they are significantly more optimistic about the country’s future. The poll of 2000 people was designed to explore what symbolised the best of Britain. More specifically, according to a Demos representative, they were looking ‘to find out what made people proud of modern Britain and why politicians fail to articulate a convincing vision of this’.

The survey then found that 83% of Muslim respondents agreed with the statement that they were proud to be a British citizen, compared to the national average of 79%. These figures help to shatter the prevailing myth that Britain’s Muslims are not patriotic, but dissatisfied with and in the UK.

Following the riots: Change in Perception of British Muslims


An unexpected benefit of the recent riots in Birmingham, which culminated in the deaths of three young Muslim men, is a change in the ways in which British Muslims are viewed by society. According to Dr Chris Allen, expert on Islamophobia at the University of Birmingham, the Muslims’ response to the deaths have shown changed the way Muslims are portrayed in the media – from a negative to a more positive light. Most notably, prejudice towards Muslim communities, which resulted from a negative portrayal in the media, was turned on its head by Tariq Jahan’s reaction to the death of his son, which has helped to end the riots in the city (as reported). The BBC reports that following survey with Birmingham’s Muslims about the riots, Dr Allen concluded that ‘Muslims felt the world now had a better understanding of them’.

Plans by Islamic Extremists to Establish Independent States Within the UK


Islamic extremists affiliated to the Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) group, which was set up in 2010, called on British Muslims to establish three independent states with sharia law within the UK. They named Bradford, Dewsbury and Tower Hamlets as “testbeds for blanket sharia law”, which would operate entirely outside British law, the Daily Mail reports. The Daily Mail also reports that the call is “likely to cause anger among moderate Muslims and community leaders in the areas concerned”. MAC’s call is part of their response to the government’s recent publication of the revised Prevent strategy to fight Islamic extremism. According to the Daily Mail, in addition to the introduction of sharia law, the MAC also called for an end to CCTV cameras in and around mosques, demanded “the release of all Muslim prisoners, a ban on Muslims joining the police or armed forces and a rejection of British democracy”.

British Muslims for Israel

14 April 2011

A group of British Muslims have founded a pro-Israeli organisation. Hasan Afzal of “British Muslims for Israel” recounts of many reactions of surprise and shock at such unexpected political activism. It was founded by young Muslim professionals in early 2011 who did not like the directions discussions took when it came to the Middle East conflict, in which many people questioned Israel’s right to exist. The group’s website enjoys increasing popularity.

Lauren Booth, Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law, Believes Rise in Number of Muslims Would Be Good For Britain

12 February 2011

The sister-in-law of former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has said a rise in the number of Muslims in Britain would be “good for the country”. Journalist Lauren Booth – sister of Mr Blair’s wife Cherie – converted to Islam last year.

And she told a conference in Colchester, Essex, that since becoming a Muslim she was a “better worker” and a “better mother” to her two daughters. She told the University of Essex’s annual Islamic Conference that Britons were “seeking not to be afraid” of Muslims and wanted Muslims “to be happy”.

Ms Booth was asked how Mr and Mrs Blair had reacted to her conversion and said: “My sister … recognises that it is a great faith that people follow. Tony Blair is Tony Blair.”

“If the number of British Muslims increases you should know it will be only good for the country,” Ms Booth told the conference, in a lecture entitled My Journey to Islam.

New Book: Tahir Abbas, “Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics”

The expression of an Islamic political radicalism in Britain has been one of the most dramatic developments in recent decades. Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics explores the nature of this phenomenon by analysing the origins of Islam and its historical contact with Western Europe and Britain, and the emergence of Islamic political radicalism in the Muslim world and in the West.

Tahir Abbas draws on historical analysis and contemporary case studies to explore the post-war immigration and integration of Muslim groups, the complex relations that exist between a secular liberal Britain and a diverse but multifaceted Islam, and the extent of social and economic inequalities that affect Muslims as individual citizens and in local area communities. He shows how violent extremism among British Muslims is in reality influenced by a range of issues, including the factors of globalisation and contemporary politics, media and culture. Analysing and dissecting public policy, Abbas offers suggestions for tackling the major social, political and economic questions facing British Muslims in the post-7/7 era.

An important contribution to the study of religion, ‘race’ and ethnicity in modern Britain, this accessible work will be of interest to anyone working in the field of Islamic studies, sociology and political radicalism.


‘Much of the commentary on Islam today is shrill and one-dimensional which further widens the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims. Because Tahir Abbas’ Islamic Radicalism and Multicultural Politics is reasoned, scholarly and aims to provide historical context it is a powerful corrective. Being both British and Muslim allows him to present us with a truly insider’s account.’ – Professor Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University

‘In the face of so many superficial denunciations of radical Islam in Britain, Tahir Abbas provides an account that is both broad in its historical coverage and profound in its social analysis. In his sweep of several centuries of South Asian Islamic thinking, Abbas includes the conflicts engendered by British colonialism, and the complex processes of immigration and settlement in Britain. He is especially good in his own speciality, the patterns of inequality in education and in the labour market, through which he shows how the global growth in radical thinking can articulate with domestic social disparities. Here is a distinctive voice entering the debate.’ – John R. Bowen, Washington University in St. Louis.

‘Terrorist incidents have created controversy about Islam and Muslims, and British Muslims have been part of this debate. Media and lay people take a very superficial view and blame Islam and Muslims for radicalisation. This book is an in-depth study of the causes of radicalisation of a section of British Muslims. It is a very useful study indeed and all those who want to understand this complex phenomenon should read the book: Dr Abbas has done a good job!’ – Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, India

‘A remarkable book, well researched, comprehensive in its coverage and highly relevant to contemporary British political concerns.’ – John Rex, Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Warwick University

Tackling Radicalisation of Young British Muslims (VIDEO)

17 February 2011

The Government is to publish its review of Britain’s strategy to stop young British Muslims becoming radicalised and potentially committing terrorist acts. State money has been given to voluntary groups to help protect vulnerable youngsters from terrorist recruiters and the coalition might change the way projects are delivered. BBC spoke to former Communities Secretary Hazel Blears MP, and Hanif Qadir of the Active Change Foundation.