Encyclopaedia of Islamic Civilisation and Religion

This is a book mostly based on Islamic research in the seats of Islamic learning in the United Kingdom. Professor Netton of the University of Leeds has accomplished a difficult job with great caution, allowing into the volume an enormous amount of information without being controversial, which is another way of saying that he has presented the work without offending an increasingly narrow-minded, bigoted and divided Muslim community.

Book Review by Khaled Ahmed (Daily Times, Pakistan) available here

Muslim convert to face terror trial

A Muslim convert is to go on trial accused of preparing an act of terrorism in Rotherham. Nicholas Roddis, 22, of Reedham Drive, Bramley, will go on trial at Leeds Crown Court. He faces 13 charges, including one of engaging in preparation of an act of terrorism between April 12 last year and July 12 last year. There are also 11 counts of possessing an article for a terrorist purpose, on July 11 2007.

They relate to containers of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, a mobile phone and a computer, a quantity of nails, railway detonators, a bomb-making recipe, a diary, and a list “which included the particulars of terrorist acts”.

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Muslim revert to face terror trial

A Muslim revert is to go on trial accused of preparing an act of terrorism in Rotherham. Nicholas Roddis, 22, of Reedham Drive, Bramley, will go on trial at Leeds Crown Court. He faces 13 charges, including one of engaging in preparation of an act of terrorism between April 12 last year and July 12 last year. There are also 11 counts of possessing an article for a terrorist purpose, on July 11 2007. They relate to containers of hydrogen peroxide and acetone, a mobile phone and a computer, a quantity of nails, railway detonators, a bomb-making recipe, a diary, and a list “which included the particulars of terrorist acts”.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=40336F9421B392C3C1822300&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

London bombs home-made from pharmacy ingredients

Explosives found by detectives investigating the London bombings were home-made using ingredients that can be found in high street chemists. The highly volatile explosive – acetone peroxide – has been discovered in a house in Leeds thought to have been used as a bomb-making factory. The discovery has raised fears of other British fanatics making their own explosives and following the example of the London suicide bombers. Instructions for making acetone peroxide are readily available on the internet. The home-made explosives found in Leeds are similar to those used in other al-Qaida-linked attacks. They were also used by shoe-bomber Richard Reid. Police are hunting an Egyptian chemistry student who has fled his Leeds home as well as the suspected mastermind behind the suicide attacks. A security source said: “The explosive that has been recovered at the house in Leeds – some of it is still in there – is in fact acetone peroxide. “It’s the same kind of explosive Richard Reid had in his shoes when he tried to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight in 2001. “This is a shocking development in the sense that earlier ideas about commercial or military grade explosive being used in the bombs themselves would therefore seem to be wrong.”http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=98C81ACB48DCF47163A02538&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Plans for more Leeds Muslim burial sites

Plans to extend Harehills Cemetery to provide more Muslim burial spaces have been rejected by Liberal Democrat councillors as too costly. They are now calling for spaces for Muslim burials to be provided at a new cemetery planned for Whinmoor Grange. An extension at Harehills would cost an estimated _2,000 per burial plot compared to just _20 per plot at Whinmoor Grange, say the Liberal Democrats. Coun Richard Brett (Lib Dem, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill), Liberal Democrat group leader, said the idea of extending Harehills should be scrapped. He said: “We have already rejected the previous administration’s plans for a massive 46 acre site at Whinmoor as we believe that a series of smaller sites for a all faiths around the city would better suit the city’s needs. “I am proposing that the best way forward for all parties is for a new multi-faith site at Whinmoor Grange. A specific area of this ought to be reserved for the Muslim community.” The need to find more burial space in Leeds has been a growing issue in recent years and a lack of burial provision for Muslims is a particularly pressing aspect of the problem.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=E998C97AFB69483D270CB929&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Terror case man denies bomb plot

An East Yorkshire man accused of making nail bombs and having bomb-making manuals has denied terrorism charges. Martyn Gilleard, 31, of Pool Court, Goole, pleaded not guilty at Leeds Crown Court to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts. He also denies possessing articles for terrorist purposes and collecting information for terrorist purposes. Gilleard admitted having 34 cartridges of ammunition without a certificate. He will go on trial in Leeds on 16 June. Prosecutors allege Gilleard, who appeared by video link from Belmarsh prison in south east London, had researched how to make bombs on the internet and bought explosive materials and made four nail bombs. He was arrested in Dundee, Scotland, on 4 November last year.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=F073AE57EC785F040055FFEF&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

It’s Business As Usual At The ‘Terrorists’ Breeding Ground’

By Bernard Hare LEEDS – I’ve always liked the Beeston area of Leeds. I was brought up in neighbouring East End Park in the 60s. My first memories are of me and my mum travelling to Beeston early in the morning on the 61 bus. My auntie, who lived there, looked after me while mum went to work. My auntie had guard geese in the garden. I’ll always remember those aggressive, squabbling birds – but it never occurred to me to ask why they needed guard geese in Beeston when we didn’t need them in East End Park. Beeston was always kind of rough. I’m sitting at the Formica tables outside Cafe Mack’s trying to understand how outside perceptions of Beeston (typically, a “breeding ground for terrorists”) differs from the reality of living here. Mick Mac, the co-proprietor, seems to know everyone. “Hey up, Jimmy, have you had them whippets castrated yet? Manjit, where’s them flowers you were bringing round?” I wonder aloud: “And the terrorists?” “There’s a lot of rubbish written about Beeston,” Mac tells me. “People here really do work hard to try to get on.” One popular misconception is that Beeston is primarily an Asian area. Let me quote from an article by “undercover” reporter Ali Hussain published in the Times earlier this month. “Voices babbled in Urdu and Sylheti … Thick-bearded men in robes strolled the streets … This could almost be an Asian city, I thought, rather than Beeston, the suburb of Leeds where two of the July 7 bombers had lived.” True, thick-bearded men in robes do stroll the streets, but so do red-faced men with tattoos and no shirts, hoop-earringed chav girls, introverted Somalis and outgoing Poles. In fact, only 18% of the population of Beeston Hill and Holbeck are of Asian origin (according to the 2001 census). In Beeston, numerous communities live side by side. There are asylum seekers and refugees from all corners of the world, as well as many people of a mixed-race or mixed-heritage background, but the largest part of the population remains the white working class. Disaffected youth, limited opportunities, a sense of social exclusion, maybe even a feeling of betrayal is common across all ethnic groups in Beeston, because Beeston is a poor area on the wrong side of the tracks. Some disaffected Asian youths turn to their Muslim heritage in search of identity. Some disaffected white kids express their lack of identity through self-destructive behaviour and crime. In the late 80s, I worked at the YMCA youth centre on Beeston Hill. We did some innovative anti-racist work with local kids. It closed, along with most of the other local youth provision, in 1990 after a round of Tory cuts. Looking back, it seems a short-sighted social policy. Walking around, I find it hard to get people to talk. The community has closed ranks. Everyone is media-weary and media-wary. “The media flooded into the area after the London bombings and many people felt they were misrepresented,” says Ed Carlisle, as we sit in his terrace-end garden in the heart of the “terrorist breeding ground”. The terrorist threat seems far away. “This street is great,” he says. “There are eight or nine different ethnic groups, including refugees, migrant workers, local working class and even me from down south. People just hang out, swap gardening tips and share ice pops or the odd beer.” Carlisle works for Together For Peace, which makes partnerships to foster understanding between people from different backgrounds. Hamara, Asha, and dozens of other community groups are doing great work in the area, he says, and the festival mela this year was a big success. Thousands came from all backgrounds without a hint of trouble. “Something good might come of this yet. Hopefully, 7/7 should have shaken us all out of our complacency – in Leeds and everywhere. Certainly in Beeston, a lot of people are living and working all the harder to make this place a better and more deeply peaceful place to live.” I like Carlisle’s style and I give him my every support, but somewhere in the back of my mind I can’t help thinking about those guard geese. Bernard Hare is a writer based in Leeds. His memoir Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew is published by Sceptre. This is the first in a series of occasional columns.

In American Cities, No Mirror Image Of Muslims Of Leeds

By NINA BERNSTEIN After the four suicide bombers in London were identified last week, news accounts focused on life in the old mill town of Leeds, where they grew up: the immigrant enclaves, the high unemployment, the rising anger and alienation of Muslim residents. Some Britons grasping for an explanation pointed at those conditions, however tentative their link to homegrown terrorism. Mahendra Kumar Patel, the manager of Patel’s Cash and Carry in Jersey City, has immigrants of many ethnic groups as customers. That rough sketch of Leeds had a familiar ring for many residents of the Northeastern United States, where old mill towns in New Jersey and upstate New York have also drawn many immigrants to faded neighborhoods teetering between blight and renewal. Three of the suspects were raised in immigrant families from Pakistan and one from Jamaica. New York, New Jersey and Connecticut are now home to at least 20 percent of the nation’s 219,000 Pakistani immigrants, and more than half of the 513,000 immigrants from Jamaica. But the differences between the suspects’ hometown and the depressed cities around New York are actually stronger than the similarities. Social conditions among British immigrants, for example, appear to be considerably worse than they are in the United States. The 747,000 Pakistanis in Britain, counted among its nonwhite residents, are three times more likely to be out of work than white Britons, according to one of several bleak statistics showcased in the 2001 British census. Forty percent of Pakistani women and 28 percent of Pakistani men are listed as having no job qualifications, and school failure among Caribbean blacks is triple the rate for white Britons, who constitute 92 percent of the population. In America, where few surveys even break out ethnic origins, a much rosier picture emerges from available figures. Pakistani household incomes in New York are close to the $43,393 median and exceed it in New Jersey – $56,566 compared with $55,145, according to 1999 figures, the most recent available. Jamaicans fare a little less well statewide, but have robust rates of household income and educational success in New York City, where they are concentrated. They have a clear edge: English proficiency in a place where one in four residents cannot speak it well, and where nearly half of the work force is foreign-born. While South Asian immigrants to Britain began arriving soon after World War II, they were part of a stream of temporary workers to a small, culturally homogenous country where they remained outsiders. In the United States, the pioneer immigrants from predominantly Muslim lands arrived mainly after 1980, many as university students, and like Caribbean blacks, entered a diverse country built on immigration. But demographics fall short of explaining terrorism. As details emerged about the British suspects’ relatively prosperous lives, experts and immigrant parents alike wondered how much collective benchmarks mean in predicting the extremism of a handful of angry people. Compared with Britain, “We definitely have a different dynamic going on here in the United States,” said Peter Skerry, a political scientist at Boston College. “I don’t know that that necessarily means we’re out of the woods – it doesn’t take very much for a set of individuals to adopt attitudes that could lead to a terrorist act.” Others, like Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center of Immigration Studies, which favors more restriction on immigration, point out that this important demographic difference is temporary: Since most immigrants to the United States from Muslim countries arrived after 1990, few of the children born to them here have reached adulthood yet. He found that more than 85 percent of the 100,000 children born in America to Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are under 20. In a Jersey City shop where fresh goat meat and comic videos in Urdu compete for shelf space, Zafar Zafar, a Pakistani father of three, echoed such concerns last week. Mr. Zafar, whose oldest child is 13, struggled in imperfect English to convey his horror at the case of Shahzad Tanweer, 22, the suspect described as a pious but fun-loving youth whose father owned a fish-and-chips shop in Leeds.