Police arrest three over plot to murder PM

The arrests of three men from Blackburn over terror offences are linked to an investigation into threats to kill the Prime Minister, it has been reported. The men are being held in connection with website threats against Gordon Brown and former PM Tony Blair, the BBC said. It was also reported that the threats included a demand for the release of Muslim prisoners from Belmarsh high-security prison in London. The claims shocked East Lancashire community leaders but they were quick to stress how strong community relations are in the area. Two men from Blackburn were arrested at Manchester Airport on Thursday, August 14. Another man, also from Blackburn, was arrested at his workplace, Express Gifts, in Church. It is believed two of the suspects were on their way to Iceland when they were arrested, although the BBC reported that they were going to Finland. Police have declined to name the three men, aged 21, 22 and 23. It is understood two of the suspects are from Percival Street, off Whalley Range, and the third is a friend of theirs from Cromwell Street, off Audley Range.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=D59CC50E870D2421232015FD&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Futuristic centre exhibition

Plans for a new community centre in North Harrow with a “futuristic design” were put on show last weekend. The owners of the current North Harrow Community Centre in Station Road, the Battlers Wells (BW) Foundation, have recently submitted revised plans to Harrow Council to be considered. In September last year, the Muslim group held a consultation on their plans and designs, which were met with opposition from local people. Samantha Sen, who deals with PR for the group said from the feedback collated from the consultation, they have adapted the plans in line with what people had said. The organisation’s plans are to demolish the current assembly hall and replace it with a new centre, sports hall, five-a-side football pitch, a children’s play area, 24-bedroom nursing home, a library and a prayer room. There will also be eight flats built on the site, a gym with separate areas for men and women, seminar rooms and a restaurant and cafe. Dr Nizar Merali of the BW Foundation, said: “This development will integrate all the communities and cultures. It will not just be for the Muslims in Harrow. “The idea behind this is to contribute something to the society we grew up in. “If given permission, the building will have a futuristic design. We are taking a risk with its look but it is something different. “We have already got a Mosque in Harrow and the idea isn’t to have a centre for Muslims, it is to allow everyone to come in.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=2E55BC69EA7A590A0A0BE9E6&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Muslim school facing closure

Oxford’s only Muslim faith school is facing closure as it cannot raise the money to buy its site. The Iqra School, based at the Lawn Upton building in Littlemore, successfully bid to buy the premises from the Diocese of Oxford and the county council, last November. Having agreed a fee of _2.2m, the trust that runs the all-girls secondary school paid a _200,000 deposit and had until July 31 this year to pay the remaining _2m. But a slump in the economy is being blamed after the school failed to raise the required cash. Dr Hojjat Ramzy, chairman of the trustees, said it now had four weeks to come up with the money or face closure. He said: “Many people promised us funds, but can’t afford to give as much as we had hoped. All the money we have been raising has been put back into the school to keep it going and pay teachers. “We have 140 pupils and their education is the most important thing, but time is running out – and, if we do not have this money soon, they will have to start looking for new schools.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=B7BAE72CA93B1A4B493A1B3F&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Scots Islamic group hits back at ‘jealous sniping’

The Scottish Islamic Foundation (SIF) has hit back at criticism about the support the organisation has received from the Scottish Government, calling it “misinformed or jealous sniping”. Osama Saeed, the interim chief executive of SIF, is an SNP candidate for the next Westminster election and believes this has been at the root of press attacks on its funding arrangements. The government insisted the _210,000 grant given to constitute the group in March and further aid of _190,000 under the Race, Religion and Refugee Integration Fund had been recommended by independent assessors under proper procedures. Mr Saeed said accusations of favouritism were inaccurate given that other organisations working with Muslims also received grants from the fund, including some groups with strong Labour Party links. The SIF had no permanent staff yet but strict appointment procedures would be followed, said Mr Saeed, pointing out at board level and among volunteers there was cross-party representation. A statement from SIF cited public support from a range of individuals and groups, and added: “There are a tiny handful of people who have been engaged in what others in the wider community are seeing as misinformed or jealous sniping.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=7DE52DD66FF4235074EEC4B5&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Independent faith school inspectorate plan ‘abandoned’

Plans to allow Muslim schools to conduct their own inspections have been scrapped by Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP. Although the proposals were designed to ensure that an independent watchdog would be more ‘sensitive’ about Islamic education, Ofsted has raised concerns that this would lead to ‘increased fragmentation’. Chief inspector of Ofsted Christine Gilbert said: ‘We believe it would be difficult for an organisation to form an objective view of the quality of schools inspected if it dealt with only one type of school and therefore lacked a broad perspective,’ reported The Daily Telegraph. The move would also have applied to Christian schools, following an application for the watchdog from the Association of Muslim Schools and the Christian Schools’ Trust. But Mr Balls has backed Ms Gilbert’s comments in a parliamentary statement, according to the paper.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=84CC16DF54F0D78C88ED665C&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Marriage visa age raised to prevent forced marriages

The age at which someone can apply for a marriage visa will increase from 18 to 21 as part of a crackdown on forced marriage, the Home Office announced on Wednesday. In 2007 the Forced Marriage Unit dealt with 215 cases of overseas forced marriage where the age of the victim was known, 69 of which involved people aged between 18 and 20. The proposals were set out in “Marriage Visas: The Way Forward”. The five key proposals announced were to raise the age of sponsorship for a marriage visa from 18 to 21; ask foreign spouses to enter into an agreement to learn English before they come to the UK; introduce a power to revoke leave to remain where there is evidence that the marriage route has been abused; require all sponsors to register their intention to marry overseas before they leave the UK; and ensure through a code of practice that specialist teams can identify vulnerable people at risk of forced marriage. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: “Forced marriage leads to victims suffering years of physical and mental abuse and – in extreme cases – unlawful imprisonment and rape. It has no place in our society. That is why the Government is determined to do everything it can to stamp it out and to ensure that victims receive the help and support they need.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=074A975CD94B6A1B390A0B0F&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

7/7 film ‘Shoot on Sight’ gets UK release date

A new film loosely based around the terrorist bombings in London on July 7th will be released in the cinemas on 22nd August. Directed by American-Indian filmmaker Jagmohan Mundhra, Shoot on Sight stars Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Greta Scacchi, Ralph Ineson and Laila Rouass. When an innocent Muslim is killed by the London Police force in the wake of 7/7, Tariq Ali (Shah), a successful Muslim police officer, is asked to head up the internal investigation to hunt-down suspected suicide-bombers. The investigation is clouded by allegations of racism and religious profiling in the Police force, as well as the ongoing threat of terrorism in the capital. At the same time, Lahore-born Tariq – a British citizen married to an English woman with two children – has his loyalties questioned by colleagues in the force, despite his long service to Scotland Yard, as well as fellow Muslims, finding his inquiry hampered from all sides. Producer Aron Govil said: “This film raises important questions about the climate of fear post 7/7 and the direct impact of that terrible day. While we are mindful that the families are still grieving, it is important to look at the climate within which Londoners now live and work and have been forced to deal with on an ongoing basis.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=3C276B981D87BEA7DDB64FC4&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Conference for Muslims in the military

A country house in Hampshire was the rarefied setting for the second conference hosting Muslims serving in Britain’s armed forces. Close to 400 Muslims serve in the military – about 300 in the Army, 50 in the RAF and 40 in the Navy. Imam Asim Hafiz, who has served as the Muslim chaplain for the last three years, organised the conference and is in charge of ministering to the spiritual needs of Muslims in all three services. “They are soldiers but at the same time they have a faith identity, a Muslim identity,” he told the BBC. He went on to explain that the conference provided Muslims with advice on tackling some of the issues they may face – like how to talk to superiors about getting regular prayer time, or having halal food available or fasting. Some of the older officers explained that when they joined the issue of halal food was not understood at all, leading to a diet that consisted largely of potatoes and peas. But while progress has been made, there was a sense that more work needed to be done to educate officers on how to deal with Muslims in their ranks and what it means to practise a religion. “It is an education for the individual on how to raise these issues and an education to the hierarchy that these are just different requirements that need to be considered,” explained one flight lieutenant in the RAF.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=9CC40E37CC587FE51F5421B4&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Channel 4 launches campaign for Islam season

Channel 4 has launched an online campaign to find 500 people called Osama as part of its Islam season. The broadcaster will follow a young female Muslim doctor and a filmmaker as they take on the project to track down 500 people named Osama in 50 days. Users will be able to follow their quest online as they upload photos, blogs and videos daily. Users will also be invited to get involved by sending in advice and tips to aid their quest. The project, Searching for 500 Faces of Islam, will be made into a documentary to be shown later in the year as part of Channel 4’s The Wonders of Islam season, which aims to highlight diversity and understanding of the religion. The site has been created by Mint Digital, which specialises in mixing online and TV projects.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=215082B330A483F113500581&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Army looks to entice Muslims

British Muslims will be wooed to join the fight against the Taliban in a new Army recruitment drive. Military bosses plan to send serving Muslims back into their communities to encourage others to join the fight in Afghanistan. General Sir David Richards, Commander-in-Chief of Land Forces, revealed the move in an interview with an internal Ministry of Defence journal. He said: “There is an appreciation on our part that the Army would be better getting more Muslims into our ranks.” He added: “I am looking to see if some of our Muslim troops can go back into their communities to act as extra recruiters.” An MoD source revealed Bradford, West Yorks, would be the first area targeted. He said: “We already know there are many young men and women in Bradford very keen to join up.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=F77AA76CE97B5A0B094AE8FE&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News