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Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)

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United States
08/15/2006 09:18 AM
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Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
Muslims call for special bank holidays

10:27am 15th August 2006

Muslims call for special bank holidays
Muslim leaders summoned to talks with the Government on tackling extremism in their midst called for public holidays to mark their religious festivals.

The Whitehall meeting was set up in response to last week's airline bomb plot discovery.

Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly had prepared an uncompromising message on the need to tackle dangerous radicalism.

But, in what she admitted were 'sharp' exchanges, some senior Muslim figures turned the tables yesterday and made a series of demands which also included the introduction of Sharia law for family matters.

Dr Syed Aziz Pasha, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland, said: 'We told her if you give us religious rights, we will be in a better position to convince young people that they are being treated equally along with other citizens.'

Dr Pasha said Miss Kelly had agreed to look at the proposals, though her spokesman insisted later that she did not favour any legal change which would give 'special treatment' for the Muslim community.

Some of the 30 moderate Muslim leaders at the meeting told Miss Kelly that important days in their two main religious festivals - Ramadan and Eid-ul-Adha - should be made public holidays for followers of the faith.

Sharia law, which is practised in large parts of the Middle East, should also be introduced in Britain, they argued. While it specifies stonings and amputations as routine punishments for crimes, Dr Pasha said he wanted it only for family affairs.

Under the law, a husband pays his wife a dowry on marriage, and money and assets are shared out between family members in specified amounts after someone dies.

'We are willing to co-operate but there should be a partnership,' Dr Pasha said.

'They should understand our problems then we will understand their problems.'

A recent poll suggested that a third of British Muslims would rather live under Sharia law, while a similar number said they also hope Britain will one day become an Islamic state. But Dr Pasha claimed the legal changes he proposed would help convince young Muslims to integrate better into British society.

The Union of Muslim Organisations of the UK and Ireland claims to be a widely representative umbrella group. However, it does not include more influential and high-profile bodies such as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the MCB, also attended the meeting but distanced his group from the calls for Sharia law.

He said: 'We believe one legal code should apply for all citizens of the UK. There is no place for multiple legal systems for people of different religious or ethnic backgrounds.

'If people object to a certain law they should campaign peacefully and democratically for a change - but only so that it applies to all people, not just Muslims.' The Government has accused Muslim leaders of a 'dreadful misjudgment' for claiming its foreign policy has fuelled the threat of extremism. An open letter, signed by three Muslim MPs, three peers and 38 community groups, said the 'debacle' of Iraq, combined with the recent failure to do more to bring about an immediate end to the Middle East conflict, had encouraged extremists who threaten Britain.

Three hours of talks

After more than three hours of talks with the senior Muslims, Miss Kelly insisted foreign policy in Iraq and the Middle East was not the 'root cause' of fundamentalism.

But she acknowledged there were 'different views' over aspects of Government policy and there had been a series of 'sharp and challenging exchanges'.

'There is a battle of hearts and minds to be won within the Muslim community, working with the Muslim community to take on the terrorist and extremist elements that are sometimes found within it, not just in the Muslim community, but elsewhere as well.'

Muslims must feel that if there was frustration on particular issue, there were ' democratic channels for that to be vented', she added. 'What I do accept is that there is a lot of anger and frustration out there in the community that needs to be properly expressed and vented through the democratic process.'

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Communities Minister Meg Munn also attended the meeting. Moves being discussed include 'de-radicalisation forums' to help young Muslims engage with Government policy, improved spiritual guidance for Muslim university students and support for training of imams. Haras Rafiq, of the Sufi Muslim Council, said: 'The first thing that we need to do as a community is admit there is a problem.

'It is like being an alcoholic - we need to stand up and say these things and have an open and honest debate.'

Kharshid Ahmed, chairman of the British Muslim Forum, said: 'We believe that the threat is still external - it is people coming from outside and leading the radicalisation.

'We need to deal with that before people inside our communities are leading the radicalisation.'

There are currently eight permanent bank and public holidays in Britain. Three fall on religious days - Christmas Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday. The latter two are common law holidays - not specified by law as bank holidays as they were traditionally days of rest and to go to Church.

The other bank holidays were made law in 1871, to give their workers time off - causing other businesses dependent on the banks to follow suit.

Add your comment | View all Reader comments (80)

80 people have commented on this story so far. Tell us what you think below.

Here's a sample of the latest comments published. You can click view all to read all comments that readers have sent in.

I have a friend who is a Pagan. He claims that Pagans and other 'religions' are already able to take time off work for their festivals. Apparently this right is enshrined in recent work related legislation.

- Sarah, Cobham, Surrey

After discussing the above with an intelligent work colleague, she raised a very interesting question.

Can anyone please tell me how many Christian public holidays are observed in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran etc.?

- Mh, Harrow, Middx

This is a Christian country at the end of the day. If we moved out to a Muslim country we would have to adhere to their rules which is the right thing to do.

- Leeann, Wolverhampton

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Anonymous Coward
User ID: 131322
08/15/2006 09:30 AM
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Re: Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
OP suicide
Ain SophIA
User ID: 129673
United Kingdom
08/15/2006 09:45 AM
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Re: Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
I like the idea of the UK having more bank holidays. I think we should have Muslim BHs!
We should also have Catholic, Hindu, Seikh Bank Holidays.

We could do with more 4 day weeks.

Anonymous Coward
User ID: 21
United States
08/15/2006 05:06 PM
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Re: Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
The only solution is for the U.K. to TAKE any child born to muslim parents immediately after birth, for a proper and normal education, including tolerance of differing belief systems, and a healthy respect for freedom.

The parents would then be sent to Gitmo, or another secure facility, and told to:


Within 20-30 years all terrorism would be gone from the Earth, if every country did this.
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 104103
United States
08/15/2006 05:11 PM
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Re: Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
I'm glad this is not happening in America.
Sir Humphrey
User ID: 129746
United Kingdom
08/15/2006 05:15 PM
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Re: Muslims demand Sharia in Whitehall meeting (England)
when its Eid they all take the day off work anyway.