Thursday, 29 May 2008

Radical Islam taking advantage of Christianity's decline, says bishop

Radical Islam is threatening to fill a “moral vacuum” in Britain as a result of a decline of Christian values, a senior Church of England bishop has said.

The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, claims that the Church dissolved its influence over the country’s morals during the social and sexual revolution of the 1960s. He said that the waning influence of Christianity had created a lack of principles that was allowing radical Islam to push its “comprehensive” claims.

Mohammed Shafiq, of the Muslim youth organisation the Ramadhan Foundation, criticised the Bishop, saying that there was no evidence that the vacuum left by Christianity was being filled by extremists; it was being filled by secularists and an obsession with celebrity, fame and money, he said.

Dr Nazir-Ali said in his article for the political magazine Standpoint that Christianity had brought together a “rabble of mutually hostile tribes, fiefdoms and kingdoms” into a nation conscious of its identity and able to make an impact on the world.

He quoted an academic who blamed the 1960s cultural revolution for bringing Christianity’s role in society to an abrupt end. It was said that, instead of resisting the social and sexual revolution, church leaders had capitulated. The Bishop said: “It is a situation which has created the moral and spiritual vacuum in which we find ourselves. Whilst the Christian consensus was dissolved, nothing else, except perhaps endless self-indulgence, was put in its place.”

Marxism had been shown to be a “nonsense”, he added. “We are now, however, confronted by another equally serious ideology, that of radical Islamism, which also claims to be comprehensive in scope. It remains the case, however, that many of the beliefs and values which we need to deal with the present situation are rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.”

Earlier this year the Bishop argued in a Sunday newspaper that Islamic extremists were creating “no-go areas” for non-Muslims in Britain, over which he received death threats. Last weekend he was quoted as claiming that the Church was not doing enough to convert Muslims to Christianity.

In his Standpoint article he said: “The question is not ‘should faith have a role in public life?’ — but what kind of role? Every temptation to theocracy, on every side, must be renounced. There is no place for coercion where the relationship of religion to the State is concerned.”Government would have to be more open to religious concerns and to make room for religious conscience, the Bishop said.

“The integrity and autonomy of public authority and of the law will also have to be recognised and it would be best if religious law in its application was left to the communities. Public law should, however, continue to provide overarching protection for all.”

Mr Shafiq countered the Bishop’s argument on extremism, saying: “Another day and another attack on Islam and Muslims by Mr Nazir-Ali.

“Everything this man says is based on fiction and promoting intolerance and fear among communities.
“Islam is on the rise because people recognise and are inspired by the trueness of our faith, whilst recognising that we live in a majority Christian country. We all have a duty to work together to build cohesive communities and not establish division,” Mr Shafiq added.

Friday, 23 May 2008

I offer my total condemnation at the attempted terrorist attack in Exeter City Centre. I pay tribute to the Police and Security Services in their hard work to protect the country. I urge any citizen of the United Kingdom that has any information to bring this to the attention of the Police. Islam totally condemns terrorism in any form and we stand ready to offer any assistance.

I urge calm and unity in this country and not allow the terrorists to succeed in their aim to divide the citizens of this country and establish hatred amongst different communities.

I are however disappointed that the description of this suspect of a convert to Islam suggests that those who convert to Islam are somewhat mental and brainwashed into converting, this is a grotesque description and one that is not true. Thousands of people convert to Islam every year in this country because we are a faith of compassion, peace and tolerance – any attempt to belittle converts intelligent decisions to convert will not be tolerated and is a trick to once again demonise Islam.

On behalf of the Ramadhan Foundation I offer my total condemnation of the terrorist attack in Exeter City Centre, we are all grateful of the Police and security services for their hard work.

The attempts to belittle and ridicule converts that come into Islam are unacceptable and will harden divisions amongst communities. Converts come to Islam because they see compassion and peace; we hope extremists rediscover the true meaning of Islam.

I urge unity in this country and urge anyone with information on terrorism to contact the Police.”

Monday, 19 May 2008

Fusion Awards announces finalists - I'm nominated for man of the year!!!

UNSUNG heroes who have contributed to their communities in the north west will be recognised at the Fusion Awards 2008 this weekend.

The finalist have been announced for the sold-out event which will take place this Saturday at the Premier Suite, Ewood Park, Blackburn.

As well as the awards ceremony, entertainment will also be provided. This will include a catwalk show featuring some of the north’s top designers and performances from top comedienne Shazia Mirza and Bollywood dance group Imagine Asian.
The finalists are as follows:

Community group of the year

Youth in Action (Preston), a voluntary group set up by and for young people. Helping younger people to focus on studying and personal development, Youth in Action has 10 young board members and works with over 100 young people in the inner-city Frenchwood and Avenham areas of Preston.

Building Bridges Pendle (Nelson), producing Community Cohesion Education Programmes for local primary and secondary schools as well as inter-faith seminars, peace vigils, community forums and joint projects between places of worship from different faiths.

Behna Group (Great Harwood), helping advance women’s education through informal training for women aged 20 to 60 in a friendly environment, with all board members using their free time and relying on very little funding

Brookhouse Community Action Team (Blackburn), raising awareness of vital health issues among young people, including designing the first-ever testicular cancer toolkit which will be distributed through Macmillan Cancer Research

Our Independence (Altrincham), a group helping disabled people make new friends, set up by Renu Duggal after she suffered a stroke and lost the use of one side of her body. The group meets weekly and all activities are offered free of charge.
Community Cohesion Award

Omar Khan (Preston), Omar's group works closely with disaffected young people in the Fishwick, Callon and Deepdale wards of Preston, with an emphasis on diversionary activities to keep youth away from gang culture and gun crime. Omar often works in his own free time, and has used his own money when funding has dried up.

Bolton Interfaith Council, whose activities include the discussion and resolution of issues, an ongoing events programme and other awareness-raising activities working towards raising trust and understanding between the faith communities in Bolton.

Father Phillip Sumner (Oldham). Admired by so many people from all backgrounds, responsible for very successful grass roots inter-faith initiatives in the Oldham area after spending 25 years in the Moss Side area of Manchester where he set up the ‘Young, Gifted and Equal’ programme advocating respect for young people’s ethnic and religious identities.

One Extreme to the Other (Oldham), a ground-breaking play by Mike Harris, performed to over 2,500 pupils in Greater Manchester. Developed by Mossley-based GW Theatre Company in partnership with Oldham Council, the play features a Muslim extremist as well as a white extremist group and is now being commissioned for performances across the UK.

Trish Ferrarin and Judy Smith (Blackburn), chair and secretary of the Revidge Community Association to tackle neighbourhood issues including crime, traffic hot spots and litter and to promote inter-community understanding.

The Community Cohesion Award is sponsored by the Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire Constabulary.

Entrepreneur of the year

Kay Gire (Blackburn), founder, Nirvana Centre for Well-Being. Kay left a career in financial services to specialize in the 5,000-year-old emotional freedom technique; she also publishes the international e-zine Bliss.

Penny Virdee (Preston), Style Rooms, a boutique that really breaks the mould in Asian fashion retail, with hand-picked designer labels, a made-to-measure service and eye-catching interior design. Penny also works hard with local charities including Cancer Concern.
Rukshanda Ibrahim (Bolton), A mother of four, Rukshanda knew at first-hand that children lose dummies constantly, and came up with a unique product – personalized dummies.

Shabnam Naz Khan (Nelson), Maria’s Cash & Carry and Maria’s Farms. Shabnam was the first Asian woman in the North West to run her own cash-and-carry, deciding that business was her true vocation although she’d studied law. Investing in a farm on the outskirts of Colne and employing local people there, Shabnam recently bought a second farm, and is now rearing 400 cattle in total and looking into halal dairy produce.
Public service award

Hena Begum, East Lancashire Children’s Home. Already having been the first Bangladeshi to join Lancashire Constabulary, Hena switched to working as a residential social worker in Lancashire, where she now champions equality and diversity.

Humayun Shouib, National Probation Service. Lancashire-based Humayun has worked for the Service for 16 years, in which time he has negotiated prayer facilities and halal food provision as well as delivering diversity training and establishing a Black and Asian Staff Networking Group.
Sadiq Patel, Blackburn with Darwen Council for Voluntary Service. Sadiq has been providing a critical link for inter-faith dialogue, with both the CVS and with Blackburn Rovers Football Club.
Sheela Solanki, Preston Women’s Refuge. Sheela, a Youth Offending Team Officer working in Blackpool, is volunteer chair of the management committee at Preston Women’s Refuge, a drop-in centre with a 24-hour staffed helpline.

Sports personality award, sponsored by Nationwide Leasing

Prabha Halai (Bolton), organizer of the Bend It Like Beckham Project in Bolton which promotes women’s football – and its teamwork and health benefits - among women of all ages and abilities in the local South Asian communities. Prabha’s team have gone from strength to strength and now play in local leagues.

Ferrari Faqiri, winner of 23 karate and tae kwon do medals in the last 12 months. Ferrari already holds two world championships in karate and one in tae kwon do, and aims to be an Olympic champion in London in 2012. Ferrari, who was born 10 weeks prematurely and is an asthma sufferer, also trains young people from the local area at his father’s gym.

Ibrahim Shah (Blackburn), 12-year-old winner of the North West Golden Gloves finals in Manchester earlier this year. The Audley Boxing Club member, Blackburn’s first ever Golden Gloves finalist, was chosen to represent England and he fought in the Three Nations Tournament in Sheffield, clinching gold in his England debut.

Maira Malik (Liverpool), nine-year-old karate black belt and ‘success coach’ to other youngsters. This year Maira was named Under-10s Sports Personality of the Year at the British Asian Sports Awards.
Man of the year

Canon Chris Chivers (Blackburn Cathedral), who has been at the forefront of inter-faith dialogue and initiatives in the area, especially projects helping build bridges between Muslims and Christians.

Muhammed Matadar, a Blackburn-based Premiership official who began as a referee in local community leagues 12 years ago and has now refereed for the Champions League and the UEFA Cup amongst others. Muhammed continues to assist local leagues, including organizing charity tournaments, despite his busy schedule.

Muhammed Shafiq, Rochdale-based head of the Ramadhan Foundation, who has been vocal in helping debunk media misconceptions around Islam and who has spoken widely on issues affecting first-generation British Muslims.
Woman of the year

Feeraz Begum, Brierfield-based founder of Caring Today, a support group for parents of children with disabilities. Herself the mother of a child with multiple disabilities, Feeraz set out to challenge some of the notions about disabilities within the South Asian communities. Caring

Today now has seven full-time staff and 16 sessional workers.

Mussurut Zia, a Blackburn woman who has spent the last 10 years working for community cohesion in her role with Lancashire Constabulary, tirelessly campaigning for women’s rights and against domestic violence, forced marriage and honour killings. Mussurut has written training materials on these subjects for the police, the CPS and voluntary sector organizations.

Fatima Patel, Tay Jiva and Monica Bhagchandani, three Bolton women who set up Ethical Entertainment, an organization involved in community celebrations. The group has strong connections with the Fortalice women’s refuge, for whom they have helped forge meaningful links with women in the South Asian communities.

An Education Achievement Award, sponsored by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), will also be awarded on the night.

Fusion Awards 2008 has been supported by No Limits, Lancashire Constabulary, Blackburn with Darwen Council, Nationwide Vehicle Leasing, the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) and Asian Image

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Malaysia's ex-PM Mahathir wants Iraq war leaders on war crimes charges

LONDON (AFP) — Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for an international tribunal to try Western leaders with war crimes over the war in Iraq, a spokesman for the organisers said.

In a speech at Imperial College, London, Mahathir called for a tribunal to try US President George W. Bush plus former prime ministers Tony Blair of Britain and John Howard of Australia for their part in the conflict, said a spokesman for the Muslim group the Ramadhan Foundation, which set up the event.

Spokesman Mohammed Shafiq told AFP that Mahathir, who was in office from 1981 to 2003, wants to see the trio tried "in absence for war crimes committed in Iraq.

"It was a opportunity for students to put a range of questions about war crimes and the international situation.

"He said that people have to stop killing each other and use arbitration, negotiation and discussion as an alternative to violence, war and killing."

On the war in Iraq, Mahathir spoke about "the thousands dying, the economic war, the power of oil and how we could utilise some of these tools to have a leverage against the people who commit countries to war," Shafiq said.

He purposely did not speak about or answer questions from students on the political situation in Malaysia, said Shafiq.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is facing growing demands to quit, following an unprecedented electoral setback in March.

More than 450 people attended the speech and about 200 more had to be turned away.
Mahathir was in Cuba earlier this week to take part in the first International Conference of the Cuban Centre for Studies on Defence Information.

The Ramadhan Foundation is a leading British Muslim youth organisation working for peaceful co-existence and dialogue between communities.