Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Opinion piece/commentary

Sholto Byrnes, New Statesman, Which Islam are you afraid of?, 21 Oct 09

Mosque open day

Huddersfield Examiner, Huddersfield mosque opens its doors "Members of the town’s Ahmadiyya community, based at Lower Fitzwilliam Street, invited members of the public to visit and find out more their work."

"Contextualising Islam in Britain" [comments]

Asim Siddiqui, Asian News, An Islam at home in Britain, October 21, 2009 "This month saw the launch of a report authored by a theologically diverse group of leading British Muslims entitled "Contextualising Islam in Britain".

"The scholars and practitioners who contributed to the report, published by Cambridge University, sought to answer a deceptively simple question: What does it mean to live faithfully as a Muslim in Britain today?"

This report was previously blogged here.

Monday, 19 October 2009


Daily Mail, Anti-Islamic march sparks violent clashes as Nazi-saluting 'Welsh Defence League' takes to the streets, 18 Oct 09 "It was the first time the newly-formed group have been out on the streets in Wales. At a similar event in Birmingham a few weeks ago trouble flared when the English Defence League and anti-fascism groups fought on the street."

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Binyam Mohamed case

Telegraph, Guananano Bay 'torture' ruling threatens intelligence sharing with US, 17 Oct 09
"The future of intelligence sharing between Britain and the United States is under threat after judges ruled secret evidence relating to the the torture allegedly suffered by Binyam Mohamed, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, should be released."

Friday, 16 October 2009

Cambridge Muslim College

BBC News, Muslim integration college opens, 15 Oct 09 "A new college in Cambridge has begun offering courses on how to integrate Islam into British society.

"The Cambridge Muslim College has just a handful of students, each of whom have ambitions to become a religious leader at a mosque or within the community."

More info: Cambridge Muslim College

Lincoln mosque Facebook campaign, Council rejects Lincoln mosque plans, 15 Oct 09,

"The application had prompted a barrage of opposition from residents and a group on social networking site Facebook containing 850 members was also set up."

Wilders visit and protest

Reuters, Dutch MP sparks Muslim protests at Westminster, 16 Oct 09, "Around 20 Muslim protesters hurled abuse at far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders as arrived for a meeting in parliament on Friday, forcing him to take refuge in a nearby building."

MCB Statement on Wilders "Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MCB Secretary General said: "At a time of heightened tension, with the unprecedented rise of the far right, we must all pull together and focus on points of unity and cohesion. Our unhealthy obsession with divisive figures only bolsters their objective to sow discord on the streets of Britain"."

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Sayeeda Warsi

Daily Express, Lady Warsi to tackle the BNP on TV, 15 Oct 09, "David Cameron has picked senior Tory Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a Muslim, to take on the British National Party in next week’s BBC Question Time showdown."


Telegraph, Ed West, An Ed Husain v Geert Wilders debate would be great for democracy discussion points and opinion: "If Geert Wilders does visit Britain in the next few days, as is being reported, I hope he takes up Ed Husain’s offer of a public debate."


Telegraph, 'Muslims want sharia law in Britain' claim "Radical Muslim group Islam4UK has launched a campaign to impose sharia law on Britain, starting with a rally in London, according to a report.

"Members of the organisation have Muslims from all over Britain to meet in the capital on October 31 for a procession to demand the full implementation of sharia law.

"The demonstration will start at the House of Commons and will then converge on Trafalgar Square."

Also in The Daily Express, Now Muslims demand full sharia law, 15 Oct 09

Islam4UK's website is currently experiencing 'difficulties' (maybe overloaded by Express readers)

Madrasas under microscope

BBC News, Madrasas 'should face regulation', 14 Oct 09 "Unofficial Islamic schools, many of which use teachers who have not had criminal record bureau checks should be better regulated, an MP has demanded.

"Madrasas are usually attached to a mosque, providing religious instruction in the evenings and at weekends."

This is a long-running issue. I wrote about it in the past, as it was prominent when I was undertaking fieldwork some years ago...

"British Ministers laud contributions of Muslim Diaspora"

APP, British Ministers laud contributions of Muslim Diaspora, 13 Oct 09

"The British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has lauded the contributions of the Muslim community in the development and progress of the United Kingdom and said his country is proud of their achievements.

"Speaking at the Eid Milan reception hosted at the historic Durbar Court of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office here last evening, he said the Muslim community has been making positive changes in the British society through various means."

'Saving Britain’s Past' - Brick Lane

OU, Saving Britain’s Past, 12 October, BBC TWO, 7:30pm, "In a city of immigrants and their diverse communities, no street embraces and wrestles with the debates generated by multiculturalism and heritage as vibrantly as Brick Lane in East London. It has probably absorbed more communities than any other into its fabric, from the Huguenots to the Jews to the current predominant community of Bangladeshis. As each community has moved on, the buildings have remained the same, even as their usage changes."

I saw some of this programme, and thought it was very interesting, introducing some issues relating to architecture, sacred space, community, and identity.

Here's the iPlayer link Saving Britain's Past - 7. The Street [limited time only]

TV: 'The Enemy Within'

Channel 4, 'The Enemy Within' "A cast of non-professional actors, young British Muslims, speak the words of the 19th-century Anarchists involved with the terror campaign. Their performances are intercut with interviews in which they explain how they feel about being a Muslim in Britain today." I haven't seen this yet - the C4 player gives a month or so to watch it...

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Burnley mosque, 2,000 Muslims gather for opening of £1.5m. new mosque in Burnley, 14 Oct 09 "The Jamia Masjid Ghausia Mosque in Abel Street was completed after 10 years of fund-raising by residents living mainly in Daneshouse.

"Building work on the massive project started four years ago and was only recently finished."

Geert Wilders

BBC News, Dutch MP overturns UK entry ban, 13 Oct 09 "Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders has won an appeal against a Home Office decision barring his entry to the UK."

Monday, 12 October 2009

Tulay Goren case

BBC News, Honour killing girl 'wanted love', 12 Oct 09 "A teenager allegedly murdered by her father in a so-called "honour killing" hated her family and wanted to run away, a court has heard." Refers to 1999 disappearance of Tulay Goren.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Announcement: Studying contemporary Islam in the UK

"Studying contemporary Islam in the UK"

A study day organised in collaboration with the BSA Sociology of Religion Study Group and the Muslims in Britain research network
Saturday 28th November 2009, 10.30am-4.30pm

Birkbeck College, University of London

Over the past decade there has been a significant growth of social science research on Islam, conducted against a backdrop of public and policy interest which can represent both an opportunity and considerable challenge to researchers in this field. This study day will be an important opportunity to bring together researchers with expertise in the study of contemporary Islam in the UK with other scholars of lived religion to share current research and reflect on developing trends and issues within this field.

A keynote address will be given by Prof Ron Geaves (Liverpool Hope University and chair of the MBRN) reviewing recent developments and future prospects for research in this field. There will also be an opportunity for short paper presentations for any form of social research exploring the intersections of Islam with identity, culture, institutions, performance, community and public policy.

Further details: Centre for Religion and Contemporary Society at Birkbeck

Thursday, 8 October 2009

'Pink Hijab Day'

Hijab Style, Pink Hijab Day

"This year, Pink Hijab Day will be taking place on Wednesday October 28th.

"According to the website, "Pink Hijab Day is intended to shatter stereotypes of Muslim women, as well as raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. All over the world, Muslims participated by wearing pink hijabs, pink ribbons, and donating to breast cancer foundations.""

Details: Facebook, Pink Hijab Day

Welsh language, From Bangladesh to learn ‘the language of heaven’, 8 Oct 09, "Sirajul Islam’s journey from Bangladesh to Wales, where he has since spent almost 50 years of his working life, has led him on a path to self-discovery, fulfilment and great personal success.

"From a small country town to Cogan, near Penarth, the 69-year-old’s determination to “learn, breathe and live” the Welsh language can be seen worldwide via the internet as part of a project created by the Cardiff Welsh-language movement, Menter Iaith Caerdydd."

Shahid Malik comment, Minister hails Bristol's Muslim community for stopping bomb plot, 8 Oct 09

"On a visit to the city, Shahid Malik, minister for communities and local government, said that Muslims across the world should take great comfort from what happened in Bristol."

'The archaeology of Islam in Britain'

Currently reading an interesting article by my colleague Andrew Petersen on 'The archaeology of Islam in Britain: recognition and potential'. It appears in Antiquity 82 (2008): 1080–1092. Details and links:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

"Secular UK benefits Islam", Secular UK benefits Islam, says Cambridge report, 7 Oct 09

"A new report on what it means to be a Muslim in Britain says that a secular British state allows Islam to be practised freely in an atmosphere of respect, security and dignity.

"The report exploring the philosophical and theological perspectives of the issue is titled 'Contextualising Islam in Britain: Exploratory Perspectives', and is the outcome of a nine-month project hosted by the University of Cambridge. A total of 26 Muslim scholars, academics and activists representing a diverse spectrum of views from Muslim communities in the UK took part in discussions about what it means to live as a Muslim in modern Britain."

Also see:

University of Cambridge, Contextualising Islam In Britain report released, 6 Oct 09

"The report's contents are the ideas of a small group and they need to be refined by a wider number of participants," Project Leader, Professor Yasir Suleiman, Director of the Centre of Islamic Studies at Cambridge, said.

"The process has already succeeded in bringing together Muslims from a wide range of backgrounds who, in spite of those different backgrounds, have been prepared to work together. What we want to do now is stimulate further dialogue with a wider group of Muslim leaders and communities."

The report is here (haven't read this yet!)

University of Cambridge, 'Contextualising Islam in Britain: Exploratory Perspectives', [PDF]

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Nottingham, Muslim website launch "The Nottingham Muslim Directory will enable visitors to access information about local mosques, voluntary and community organisations. It will also contain advice, links to radio stations and key events taking place around the city."


Inayat Bunglawala: "Gay Muslims need support"

Inayat Bunglawala, Guardian, 'Comment is Free', Gay Muslims need support, 5 Oct 09 "In Muslim communities the issue of homosexuality is very rarely discussed in a candid manner and is all too often wished away as if it is an affliction that involves other groups, not them. Not far from the surface, however, are reports of gay Muslim men being pressurised into rushed marriages by parents desperate to avoid any social stigma. The woman's family is never told the truth about her husband's sexuality, of course, with the result that another soul has to endure unhappiness due to the initial failure to face up to the issue. It is a highly dishonest and unethical approach.

"Islamic scholars and imams should ideally be performing a much-needed pastoral role by helping in these situations and providing guidance. At the very least they should insist that any intimidation or discrimination against gay Muslims is unacceptable.""

This is a significant article, which will clearly receive a great deal of comment from all sides. There are many comments on the Guardian's own pages, including responses from Bunglawala.

There's some lively discussion on this at Harry's Place: "Here at the Spittoon we have tended to give Inayat Bunglawala a bit of a hard time. But we also give credit where credit is due. In that spirit, he certainly deserves credit that, on the back of a panel discussion about religious freedom and sexuality in Dublin (in which he participated with Peter Tatchell), he has just written a spirited defence of gay rights."

It will be interesting to track responses elsewhere to Bunglawala's line of thought.

Monday, 5 October 2009

'Black Muslims in Britain' - new book

Richard Reddie, Guardian, Why are black people turning to Islam? 5 Oct 09 "Black conversion or "reversion" to Islam is not new; it has been taking place in the African diaspora since time immemorial. However, I looked deeper into the phenomenon to find out why a growing number of Black Britons, especially younger ones, are embracing Islam. Although I am not a Muslim, I have always been interested in Islam – three of my all-time heroes, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X and Jamaican singer Prince Buster were Muslim converts, and I was intrigued by the way Islam inspired all three to transcend their respective vocations to become icons."

Book details of Reddie's book are here - I look forward to reading this

Prevent Violent Extremism

Haroon Siddique, Observer, Muslim groups hit out over 'funding with security strings attached', 4 Oct 09 "The government is facing a rebellion over its anti-terrorism strategy from Muslim groups that claim public funding to tackle social deprivation has been made contingent on security co-operation."