Friday, 28 June 2013

Respect councillor leads campaign against grooming

Respect's Bradford council leader Alyas Karmani has written a sermon which will be heard in mosques throughout the country today which will condemn sexual grooming.

The sermon will highlight how the Koran emphasises that Muslims must protect children and the vulnerable. As the BBC reports it......
It was supported by leading Muslim organisations, a spokesman said.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the Mosque and Imams National Advisory Board and the Islamic Society of Britain had all pledged to devote sermons to the issue of sexual grooming, said TAG, a not-for-profit organisation set up to tackle sexual grooming in the UK.
The sermon, written by Alyas Karmani, an imam and youth worker in Keighley, West Yorkshire (and Respect council leader in Bradford) opens with a quotation from the Koran forbidding "sexual indecency, wickedness and oppression of others".
These "disgraceful actions" must be wholeheartedly condemned, it adds.
It finishes with a call for action and reminds Muslims to speak out if they see any "evil action".
Mr Karmani said: "There's a profound disrespect culture when it comes to treating women. One of the reasons we feel this is the case is poor role models.
"Access to pornography, which also objectifies women, is creating a culture where men are now ambiguous when it comes to the issue of violence against women."

Mr Karmani said the sermon was being circulated in an effort to counter what he claimed was a taboo in mosques about talking about sex.

The sermon is the first phase of a "hard-hitting" campaign following a number of high-profile child grooming cases involving Asian men in Bradford, Oxford, Rochdale and Telford.
While sexual grooming and child abuse affected all sections of society and was perpetrated by people of all ethnic groups, the Koran exhorted Muslims to act against evil and injustice and create just societies.
On Thursday, seven men who abused girls as part of a sadistic sex grooming ring based in Oxford were jailed for life at the Old Bailey.
Two of the men were of east African origin and five of Pakistani origin.
Former Labour MP for Keighley Ann Cryer said she was "delighted" by the move, which she said showed the issue was being taken more seriously than in the past.
Ms Cryer said she was approached by mothers worried about grooming in 2002, and was frustrated when police, social services and mosque elders took no action.
"I just hope this message gets beyond the mosque to the non-attenders, because by and large the people who behave like this don't go to the mosque," she said.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Met Police Smear Campaign Against Stephen Lawrence Family: I know I was there. (By Lee Jasper)


The recent revelation by the Guardian newspaper that in 1993, the family of Stephen Lawrence and those campaign groups that supported them were spied upon by police, in an effort to smear and undermine the campaign for justice will no doubt surprise some, not however me.
Former Met undercover police officer Peter Francis says he and others were employed to ‘monitor and smear’ the Lawrence’s and their supporters, including he says a special focus on all of the ‘black justice campaigns’

I have started an e-petition calling for the PM to recall the McPherson Inquiry team to examine these issues. You can sign here
As part of the National Black Caucus I had the honour of working with others in those dark days in the immediate aftermath of Stephens’s tragic and sickening murder. I helped organize demonstrations, public meetings and helped orchestrate the political strategy to secure a public inquiry.

The Commissioner back then was on Paul Condon who I knew when he was an inspector. In February 1987 he secured promotion as Deputy Assistant Commissioner in charge of West London.

It was here that our paths crossed in the late 1980's., I was Chair of Mangrove Community Association All Saints Road Notting Hill. Condon was the kind of copper that “Life on Mars” probably based on.

He engaged and was actively involved in leading his officers in a relentless campaign that sought to smear us in the press and falsely criminalize the local black community.

We at the Mangrove experienced this on a daily basis that culminated in the false arrest and imprisonment of the leader of the Mangrove and legendary community father.

The Met and Condon wanted to close down the Mangrove a bastion of black power activists that constantly challenged police corruption, racism and brutality. All thirteen of those arrested in the ‘drugs raid’ were acquitted in…wait for this… thirteen separate consecutive trials, including Frank Crichlow.

Condon himself gave evidence at Franks trail in a desperate effort to have an innocent man jailed. He failed and Frank subsequently received what was at its time the largest civil award settlement on British judicial history.

Under his watch reigned “The Black Watch “ unit operating out of Notting Hill police station a group of police officers that targeted Black youths and planted them with drugs. He was also responsible for swamp policing of the 1987 and 1988 Notting Hill Carnivals that saw brutal policing and disturbances.

So it comes as no surprise that Condon as Commissioner would have engaged in such a despicable campaign to ensure that he Lawrence family and their supporters like me should be smeared and arrested on real or trumped up charges if possible. That was Paul Condon’s modus operandi, his signature move. This was the standard model of policing protest borrowed straight out of the 1960’s US COINTELPRO programme. The Met at the time knew of my very public and high profile involvement in the Lawrence campaign and no doubt hoped that he could finish of the job he failed to complete at the Mangrove.

These new revelations should now be the basis of a new full inquiry and all those surviving or retired officers engaged in the covert Metropolitan Police surveillance of the Lawrence’s and supporters should be thoroughly investigated and where found to have crossed the line face disciplinary or criminal charges. 

The most damming fact is all this information was denied to the McPherson public inquiry and fact quite staggering in its implications. The question to be asked and answered immediately is which police officers were involved in the original surveillance operation and who took the Mets decision not to present this critical information to the inquiry? It is beyond belief that the then Home secretary of the time Jack Straw did not even know about this. The decision to engage in this disgraceful campaign must have been taken at the highest level of the Met Police.

It is not good enough for the Met to say (as they have) that this will now form part of an ongoing general investigation into undercover policing. Neither can Prime Minister David Cameron's call today for a new 'police investigation' misunderstands the serious nature of problem. 


Now I here that 
Mark Ellison QC is already looking into allegations of police corruption in the initial investigation of the murder and that he will look into this matter. Nobody knows who is he working for and what is his remit and who is he reporting to? This travesty of a response is just more of the same old same old, placate the public so as to make them believe we are doing something. Nobody trust either the Met Police, Boris Johnson or the Independent Police Complaints Commission on this issue.

This is much more serious than that and ought to result in the immediate recall of McPherson Public Inquiry team so that the full detail of what happened and who was involved can be forensically explored.

The Met’s reputation with London’s Black communities is the worst it’s been in my 30 years experience and getting worse every day.  Deaths in police custody, harvesting black peoples DNA, stop and search, the use of the dreaded joint enterprise law, 2011 civil disturbances alongside routine everyday police racism has created a toxic atmosphere in some areas.

Not all of this is entirely the result of police racism. The catalyst for these worsening relationships is result of the malign influence of Boris Johnson and London Tories who from day one of his election actively campaigned to rid the service of the tag of ‘institutional racism’.

To ensure that Boris got his way he ensured the employment of a series of nodding dog Commissioners most of whom did not have the character or strength of will of say a Sir John Steven who was notorious for not entertaining political interference of any kind. The combination of a culture of Tory ideological prejudice against the McPherson recommendations and weak Commissioners has led to this pretty pass.

The Lawrence’s search for justice has always at its root represented a wider public campaign for police accountability. Now that we know the depth of the conspiracy those guilty of crimes and misdemeanors must now face justice or an already toxic relationship between black communities and the Met will become radioactive.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives & mothers?

I take a deep sigh and brace myself – I know exactly where this conversation is heading. It troubles me to see yet another sister has shifted her entire focus on marriage and motherhood. Of course, marriage is a highly recommended Sunnah and brings many benefits for us spiritually, mentally and physically. But when our struggle and strive overwhelmingly revolves around marriage and motherhood then know that there is a problem in our understanding of the religion.
And what causes an intelligent, hardworking, ambitious single sister to now accept that her goal is simply to be a married woman with children? Since when did the ONLY purpose in life revolve around matrimony and offspring? It begs the question – were women created solely for the purpose of becoming wives and mothers?
God answers this in Chapter 51 (Surah Ad Dhaariyaat) “And I did not create the jinn and humankind except to worship Me.”
Our goal in life is to worship God. This is not to say we sit in prayer all night and day but rather the beauty of Islam is such that (with the correct intention and staying within the Islamic framework) worship takes numerous forms. Being a mother, a daughter, a friend, a student, a public speaker, a poet, a writer, a teacher, a doctor, an artist, a scientist, a political figure, a news correspondent, a blogger, a babysitter, a hair dresser, taking part in discussion and debating can all fall under the umbrella of worship.
Despite this, the community pushes forth another ideology that a truly ‘successful’ person is a married one who quickly progresses to parenthood! The amount of pressure that is applied on Muslims getting ‘hitched’ is not the same as it is on bettering themselves spiritually, improving their character or engaging in political matters. Marriage is only a tool in becoming closer to God it is not the end goal. The purpose of our life is not ONLY to become spouses with children.
Let’s look at some examples of women who thrived in the Deen. The wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her) was a successful business woman with her own caravan trade managing a number of agents. Rufaidah Aslamiyyah was a specialist in medicine and surgery and was known to tend to the sick and injured in the battlefields. Khansa bint Amr was a renowned poetess whose poetry was said that none could match. In fact, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would encourage her to recite more of her poems! Umm Umara was a warrior blessed with many honors. And her most honorable role came during the battle of Uhud where she stood firm fighting against the enemies when others had fled.
Women were also very much involved with politics. They contributed and advised on numerous issues; voicing their opinions and criticizing matters regarding the state. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself would seek advice regarding state matters from his wives. It was Umm Salamah’s consultations that eased the heated situation surrounding the treaty of Hudaibiah whereby the weak terms of the treaty had angered the companions. Similarly Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) would often consult Shifa bint Abdullah; an intellectual and scholastic woman in certain matters.
Another academic and competent scholar was Fatima bin Qais. Her counsel was sought on the selection of the next Caliph by the nomination committee when Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) died. Amra bint Abdur-Rahman gave legal verdicts in Medina after the time of the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Companions, and some of her opinions took precedence over opinions of other authorities.
Shifa bint Abdullah ibn Shams was appointed by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as the administrator and accountant of the largest market at that time; Medina. She was also later reappointed by Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) during his time of reign as Caliph. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) was a female jurist whose rulings are till this day studied in Universities across the globe. Umm Salaam was also known for giving several legal rulings during her time.
The list goes on. And we see from these few examples that Muslim women flourished religiously, academically and politically. They worshipped God through specialising in their fields to defend their religion. They worked to protect the Ummah, they used their knowledge to benefit others and they used their skills for the betterment of society. This is something we can all take heed from male or female; married or single.
Those scholars who study the role of women in Islam will notice that throughout the different periods of history, women were actively engaged in every field of endeavour, be it politics, government, or learning. Women were not confined, as some have assumed, to mothering and household occupations.” [Salah al-Din al-Munajjid]
Many of us have heard/read the famous Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him): The Muslim Ummah is like one body. If the eye is in pain then the whole body is in pain and if the head is in pain then the whole body is in pain”. Our bodies, families, friends and neighbours all have specific rights over us but at the same time so do the millions of other people around the Globe. Their welfare is also OUR responsibility whether we are male or female.
Yet, there is an imbalance in determining priorities in the minds of Muslims. We are infatuated in following a self-interested version of Islam whereby our own needs and desires are placed above anyone else’s. And this epidemic has distracted us from the higher purpose in life – worshipping God and following His commands in their entirety. Do we not see that by focusing on fulfilling only a specific segment in Islam we neglect other imperative commands of God? We create an imbalance not only in our lives and religion but also in society affecting the Ummah as a whole.
Let us refrain from exerting all our focus on only one aspect of our lives and focus on building our relationship with God instead. Let us learn our religion, let’s embrace opportunities to do Dawah, let us work on our relationships with others, let us improve our spiritual state and let’s help fulfil one of the most important duties of a Muslim – to love, support, defend and protect the Ummah. For nothing, nothing is more tragic then standing in front of our Lord on the Day Of Judgement knowing that we neglected one of the most critical forms of worship…
Beautifully Written by Iram

Friday, 7 June 2013

Galloway fights closure of three museums

George Galloway has put down a parliamentary motion and written to the Secretary of State for Arts and Culture over the threatened closure of three museums, including the National Media Museum in Bradford.

Along with the media museum, two others in the same group - the National Railway Museum in York and the Museum of Science and Industry - are threatened with cuts or closure in the forthcoming spending review. Galloway points out that the three are integral to Britain's cultural heritage, have outstanding records which would be even better with more adequate funding. The closure of the media museum, he went on, would have a devastating effect on attempts to revive Bradford's city centre.