Muslim charity to put ‘Allah is great’ posters on buses to portray Islam in a positive light

Hundreds of British buses will carry adverts praising Allah as part of a campaign launched by the country’s biggest Muslim charity to help victims of Syria’s civil war. Islamic Relief hopes the posters, which bear the words “Subhan Allah”, meaning “Glory be to God” in Arabic, will portray Islam and international aid in a positive light.

Buses will carry the advertisements in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester and Bradford. These cities have large Muslim populations and the charity hopes it will encourage people to donate generously ahead of the start of Ramadan on 7 June.

Imran Madden, the UK director of Islamic Relief, said: “In a sense this could be called a climate change campaign because we want to change the negative climate around international aid and around the Muslim community in this country.

“International aid has helped halve the number of people living in extreme poverty in the past 15 years, and British Muslims are an incredibly generous community who give over £100 million to international aid charities in Ramadan.”

The new campaign will appear on buses from 23 May on 640 buses around the country. The adverts will have a special resonance in London as the city elected its first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, on Thursday – despite a Conservative campaign, which repeatedly accused him of having connections to extremists.

We’re all in this together: How Leicester became a model of multiculturalism (even if that was never the plan…)

You couldn’t ask for a better symbol of the present, paradoxical state of multicultural Britain than Jawaahir Daahir. She is a vigorous example of female empowerment: a Somali refugee in the Hague, she learnt Dutch and studied for seven years to become a social worker there, while bringing up her six children. She is also a conservative Muslim, like most of her compatriots. She combines the two – feminism and religious piety – with no apparent strain. And it was because that combination is one that Britain can deal with, while the Continent finds it unacceptable, that she is now happily settled in Leicester.

 

“When the Somali community came to Leicester there was a sense of support and a welcoming environment. For example, now there are lights, welcoming Ramadan. When I registered my children for school, there were welcome signs in so many languages, including Somali. It was a culture shock, because you don’t expect a Western city to welcome you in your own language. In Holland, even though I participated actively in all sorts of different areas, I still felt separate, different. But here in Leicester you feel a sense of belonging. You are not a foreigner, you are not an outsider. The society and the system acknowledge you and consider you.”

 

David Goodhart, founding editor of Prospect magazine, asks hard questions about the economic and political rationale for the mass immigration that has transformed the ethnic profile of so many of our towns and cities. Britain obtained its dazzling array of new citizens with little conscious planning. And, as Goodhart describes, in places such as Bradford and Tower Hamlets, the mixture of declining local industry and a large, tight-knit population of immigrants from rural parts of Pakistan and Bangladesh has produced severe social tension, culminating in the mill-town riots of 2001. But as Jawaahir Daahir’s story reveals, that is not the whole picture. Slap in the middle of England there is a city where an improbably rich mix of people and religions seems to be working rather well. Nobody planned for Leicester to become the most multicultural city on the planet. It just happened that way. And for the early immigrants, too, there was little thought that they might make their lives here.

 

In the past 40 years, Leicester has become the poster city for multicultural Britain, a place where the stunning number and size of the minorities – the 55 mosques, 18 Hindu temples, nine Sikh gurudwaras, two synagogues, two Buddhist centres and one Jain centre – are seen not as a recipe for conflict or a millstone around the city’s neck, but a badge of honour.

 

But in the 12 years since the attacks on America, punctuated by 7/7 and the Woolwich atrocity, Britain’s faith in multiculturalism has begun to erode. After every act of Islamist terrorism, there has been a spasm of revulsion. This is one of the conundrums of our age, one which laid-back, permissive Holland epitomises: how are the super-tolerant children of the European Enlightenment to react to the arrival of newcomers who refuse to adopt the uniform of secular liberalism? How far do you tolerate those who themselves have strict limits on what they will tolerate?

 

As atheists – who account for 23 per cent of Leicester’s population – like to point out, religion is not a reliable recipe for communal harmony. Quite the reverse: as every religion enshrines an exclusive explanation of the world, each has the potential to oppress and persecute those who think differently. And often that’s how it works out. Muslims are often treated like second-class citizens in India, Christians in Pakistan, Hindus in Bangladesh and Muslims in Burma.

 

While the mill towns of Burnley, Oldham and Bradford experienced race riots in 2001, Leicester has ridden out its multicultural decades in considerable peace and harmony. The white population, guided by the likes of Peter Soulsby, has responded with maturity and imagination to these epochal demographic changes. And while there will always be grumbling about the “cosseting” of immigrants, the facts speak for themselves. In the mid-1970s, the National Front was active in Leicester, and on one occasion came close to winning a single council seat. But since then, they and their successors have been notably unsuccessful in the city. If the minority of British whites are seething about the way the city is changing, they are keeping it very much to themselves.

Pork found in Halal lamb burgers supplied to Leicester schools

Halal lamb burgers have been withdrawn from a city’s schools after tests revealed a sample contained pork. The decision follows DNA tests on a batch of frozen burgers manufactured by Doncaster-based Paragon Quality Foods Limited in January, Leicester Council said today. Assistant city mayor Vi Dempster said: “I am appalled by this situation. It is disgraceful that none of us can have confidence in the food we eat.

All other Halal products used in the council’s kitchens – including 24 city schools – are supplied by another company, the council said and that 19 schools were supplied with the frozen burgers.

The council has written to 6,000 families whose children might have eaten the burgers.

 

Suleman Nagdi, from the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), said: “The community will be extremely shocked and distressed to learn of the contamination that has taken place. The FMO is working closely with the local authority and calling on them to take legal action in respect of this contamination and would urge the local authority to instigate criminal proceedings against the company involved under the Food Safety Act.”

 

In a statement issued today, Paragon Quality Foods said it had “never knowingly bought or handled pork” and it was working with the relevant authorities. “Paragon Quality Foods Ltd is a pork-free site and has never knowingly bought or handled pork and has provided this information to the relevant enforcement authorities.

 

The decision to remove halal lamb burgers from Leicester schools comes after a number of high-profile meat scandals this year. In February, the Ministry of Justice said it was to suspend a firm supplying meat to prisons after tests found that it may have provided halal pies and pasties with traces of pork DNA. Then there was the horse meat scandal in January where investigations revealed beef products sold by retailers including lasagne, spaghetti Bolognese and frozen burgers supplied to several supermarkets including Tesco contained were contaminated with horse DNA.

University of Leicester Launches Inquiry into Segregated Seating

15 April 2013

 

The University of Leicester announced that it will launch an inquiry into an on-campus event, hosted last month by the student Islamic Society, which featured gender-segregated seating and separate entrances for males and females. The event, a talk entitled, “Does God Exist?,” featured Hamza Tzortzis, a lecturer on Islam. Mr. Tzortzis was also a participant in the 9 March debate at the University of London which garnered attention for a similar segregated seating policy, though that policy was abandoned after Professor Lawrence Krauss threatened to walk out of the debate.

 

Regarding the matter, the Guardian is reporting that a spokesman for the University of Leicester said, “The University of Leicester does not permit enforced segregation at public events. The university will investigate whether entrances to the hall for this event were segregated by the society and will ensure there is no recurrence of this.” A statement on the Islamic Society’s website stating that all events hosted by the society adhere to a strict gender-segregated seating policy was recently taken down. However, a note under the “Weekly Activities” section of the group’s “About Us” page says that all classes put on by the group will be fully gender-segregated.

 

As was the case with the University of London debate, one of the central issues regarding the University of Leicester talk is to what extent the gender-segregation was forced on attendees. The Daily Mail reports that gender-segregation was indeed forced on students, while an official for the University of Leicester claimed that, to his knowledge, the seating policy was not made mandatory. Said the official: “If there is evidence of enforced segregation, that would be a matter the university and students’ union would investigate.”

Leicester scout hut at centre of religion protests to reopen

A disused scout hut which had plans to turn it into an Islamic centre is to reopen as a community centre after a number of protests and petitions. A residents group had organised a series of protests and a petition, calling for it to be used for the wider community. The As-Salaam Trust who were originally due to move into the building said it was in the process of moving into another  nearby facility and was looking forward to getting settled after the disruption and turbulent recent months

Report describes the participation of UK Muslims in governance

31 January 2013

 

One of the most comprehensive studies to date on UK Muslim-government relations, entitled “Muslim Participation in Contemporary Governance”, describes how British Muslims have been taking part in governance in the three policy fields of equality, diversity and cohesion; faith sector governance; and security. It describes how modes of Muslim representation have developed into a broader ‘democratic constellation’.

 

The report, published by Centre for the Study and Citizenship at University of Bristol, included an analysis of public policy since 1997, a total of 112 interviews with key policymakers and Muslim civil society actors, and in-depth local case studies of Birmingham, Leicester, and Tower Hamlets, London.

 

According to the report, Muslims have become increasingly visible in governance recently. This inevitably led to the debates regarding “Muslim identities, alliances, rights, claims-making and the place of Muslims and Islam within the West.” The report highlights that the current visibility of Muslims in British politics is also a result of the increasing activism of Muslims.

click here for full report

Muslims living in Leicester are joining blood donation campaign

28 November 2012

The Imam Hussain Blood Donation Campaign which aims to increase the number of regular blood donors from Muslim communities by holding donor drives in 10 cities across the UK.

The annual campaign, named after the grand son of the Prophet, is organized by the Islamic Unity Society (IUS), a charity set up to promote the integration of Muslim communities within wider British society.

Theo Clarke, of NHS Blood and Transplant, Leicester, said: “It’s great to have such an opportunity to work with the Muslim community in promoting blood donation. Often, rare blood groups are more common within certain ethnic groups, so encouraging people with rarer blood types to donate is a challenge.”

Political Involvement of Muslims Receives a Cautious Reaction

24 May 2012

 

UK Muslims are increasingly becoming involved in the political system, which bears its fruit as Muslim figures assume office. In the recent local election, Abdul Razak Osman, an Indian-origin Muslim was elected as the first Muslim Mayor of the city of Leicester.

 

The reaction to the event from outside of the Muslim community was mixed and mostly sceptical. The article by Soeren Kern reflects the concerns of those skeptical vis a vis Muslims’ successes in politics.

Female Muslim Gang Walks Free After Attack as They are “Not Used to Drinking”

6./7.12.2011

A gang of four Muslim women originally from Somalia walked free from court in Leicester last week after they had attacked a young woman in the city centre in June last year. The group of three sisters and a cousin attacked Rhea Page as she waited for a taxi with her boyfriend after a night out. Page suffered kicks to the head, back, arms, and legs and the attackers allegedly screamed “kill the white slag” (The Telegraph). The four women were convicted of causing bodily harm; however, the judge did not consider the attack to be racially motivated and thought none of the four women deserved to serve time in jail. Instead, he delivered six-month suspended jail sentences after hearing that, as Muslims, the women were “not used to being drunk”. He also sentenced the three sisters to 150 hours of community work. Following the court ruling, Page claimed that not jailing the women sent out the wrong message about street violence.

Muslims Leader from Leicester Calls on Islam to Integrate

14.07.2011

Dilwar Hussain, Muslim leader of the Islamic Society of Britain based in Leicestershire, calls on Islam to further develop to become an “integral part of British life”, the BBC reports. Hussain encourages Muslim communities to think about their place in the British nation and to “adapt Islamic practice to feel more British and European”. To support his call, Hussain reminds of the Middle Eastern origins of Christianity and how it has been successfully incorporated into European societies. He also expressed his concern about extremism and called for cooperation to tackle any extreme voices.