Sunday, April 30, 2017
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Urban Echo News

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Stage Three of the Tour de Yorkshire 2017 starts in Bradford city centre and will be passing through large parts of the Bradford district on Sunday 30 April 2017.

The race is due to start in City Park in the city centre at around 12.10pm and will travel through large parts of the district including Manningham, Frizinghall, Saltaire, Shipley, Lower Baildon Menston, Burley-in-Wharfedale, Ilkley, Addingham, Silsden, Riddlesden, Keighley, Cross Roads, Haworth, Oxenhope, Denholme, Mountain and Queensbury. It is expected to clear the district by around 2.45pm.

Prior to the race there will be ‘the caravan’. This is a publicity parade which travels ahead of the riders on the race route. The caravan is expected to leave City Park at around 10.10am.

So that the organisers of the event can put the infrastructure in place for the start of the race in the city centre a series of road closures will be in place from 5am on Sunday 30 April 2017.

The following roads in the city centre will be closed:

– Sunbridge Road (Godwin Street to Aldermanbury)

– Bridge Street (Between Hall Ings and Aldermanbury)

– Tyrell Street

– Hustlergate

– Market Street

– Bank Street

– Broadway

– Hall Ings (Jacobs Well to Drake Street)

All traffic to the Broadway Shopping Centre will be routed via Croft Street, Shipley Airedale Road and Leeds Road.

Jacobs Well Car Park will be closed for public use from 11pm on Saturday 29 April to allow for parking for media and race team vehicles.

Out of the city centre the race convoy will move through the rest of the district in a mobile road closure “bubble” using a Police outrider escort.

The outriders may close roads for around 20 to 30 minutes at a time as the race progresses, this is dependent on the speed of the cyclists taking part in the race.

In certain locations, both along the race route and off it, longer road closures will be needed to ensure the safety of the competitors and members of the public.

The following roads in the district will be closed:

-Skipton Road in Silsden will be closed at the junction of Woodside Road from 11am to 3pm

– Holden Lane/Silsden Road in Riddlesden will be closed between Hawber Lane and Banks Lane from 10am to 3pm

– The full length of Banks Lane/Granby Lane in Riddlesden will be closed from 10.30am to 3pm

– The full length of Main Street/West Street/Changegate in Haworth will be closed from 11am to 3pm

– The B6141 Station Road/Denholme Road/Long Causeway in Oxenhope/Leeming will be closed along its full length from 11am to 3pm

These times are indicative and may change on the day due to conditions and the needs of the race.

Due to these road closures delays are to be expected on the day of the race and people are advised to plan their journeys well in advance.

On sections of certain roads on the race route where the speed limit is above 40mph, the speed limit will be temporarily lowered to 20mph for the duration of the race event. This is to protect the competitors and vehicles at the back of the race convoy. Drivers are reminded that if they are approaching the rear of the race they should not attempt to overtake the escort vehicles under any circumstances, this is for their own safety and the safety of competitors and spectators.

The Council has written to residents and businesses in the city centre and along the race route to inform them of road closures and parking restrictions, as well as contacting taxi operators and liaising with bus companies so that they can also make plans for the day. Signs have gone up across the district to remind people of the delays that they may experience on race day.

Bus services in Bradford city centre will be diverted from 5am to at least 2pm. As roads outside the city centre will be closed via a rolling road closure there may be delays to bus services. More information about disruption to bus services is available on www.wymetro.com.

Taxi ranks on Norfolk Gardens, Bank Street, Broadway and Sunbridge Road in the city centre will also be suspended on the morning of the race.

It is anticipated that normal city centre operations will resume early afternoon – however this cannot be guaranteed and may change on the day.

Residents and visitors to the area are asked to park their vehicles off the main race route on the day of the race, so that the riders can safely pass by. It also means that spectators get a better view. Residents have also been reminded that vehicles may be subject to searches by the security services and may be removed if necessary.

Phil Barker, Assistant Director for Sport and Culture, said: “So that the race can pass safely through the district and everyone has a great day watching this spectacular event in safety, we are asking people to plan ahead and have patience on the day.

“If you are planning to watch the race think about where you will watch from, how you will get there, where you may be able to park once you are there and how you will get home again.

“If you’ve got other plans for when the race comes through, have a look at the race route and the timings and plan your journey in advance.

“Your patience and co-operation on the day is really appreciated and once the race has passed through we will get things back to normal as soon as we can.”

For information about the route of the Tour de Yorkshire in the Bradford district and the times that the race will pass through please visit http://letour.yorkshire.com/

 

Six months ago the Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke about her commitment to the ‘just about managing’, the poor as well as the rich, and to tackling the ‘burning injustices’ of social and economic inequality. The need for national consensus in the wake of the Brexit referendum and a revival of one nation conservatism. She made great capital about the steadfast and steady leadership she would provide and the cynicism and opportunism of those encouraging her to call an early election. The country she argued could not risk the instability that would inevitably cause!

Understandably today’s announcement of a General Election on June 8th caught many by surprise. In contrast to her often quoted prime ministerial predecessor, this Lady certainly is ‘for turning’ especially when the fruits of our electoral system beckon so strongly.

It seems that building a national consensus and safeguarding the country against political and economic instability are of scant importance, especially when compared to the prospect of locking out opposition to a hard Brexit whilst burying the Conservative Party election expenses scandal.

Today’s announcement is political game playing of the highest and most deplorable order. A cold and calculated attempt, less than a year since her leadership success and not two years since the last general election to create political advantage from uncertainty.

Theresa May and the Conservative Party have shown their true colours. After seven years of Tory austerity let us be in no doubt what a further term of office would mean.

This is a government that is dedicated to exploiting division not healing it.

I represent Bradford West, I have sought to work tirelessly on behalf of all the people living in a constituency that I was born in, grew up in and have lived in all my adult life. There are things a working class woman from West Bradford knows in her heart and can see with her own eyes that no Tory election spin can hide.

Since 2010 the Tories have imposed an agenda of economic austerity with unswerving disregard for its impact on the people of my home city. The simple fact is that Tory policies have hit the poorest people in the poorest places hardest. Those least able to cope with the loss of public services live in the areas where they have been cut most.

The Tories told us that savings could be made with cuts to top heavy management but it’s clear that its front line services that are now in a state of collapse. Those working in schools, hospitals, social services or the police work longer hours and carry a greater workload as they desperately strive to shield the most vulnerable from the full impact of Tory cuts.

Cuts to management that are so extreme that strategic and organisational capacity are undermined. The impact hits working class communities hardest. They make the greatest use of public services and notice what are initially presented as small changes to hours, waiting times, and cost. The effect is cumulative and disproportionate. When allied to a world of employment that is increasingly precarious and uncertain, where wages have stagnated for years and employment rights feel like a thing of the past, Theresa’s May’s hypocrisy is staggering.

There is an alternative. We need to start funding the public sector again, and we need to rebalance between investment and saving. We need to listen to alternatives because austerity has not worked. Debt is higher, borrowing is higher, and we have paid enough of a price for this government’s failure to deliver.

The time for bleak, pessimistic austerity from Tory governments is over.

It has bought the NHS to its knees, stripped local government of vital resources, decimated school funding and put immense pressure on those who were struggling the most.

This is a chance for optimism. It is a chance for us to want better. WE deserve better!

Better for ourselves and better for the next generation.

It is a chance to make a change.

This is your opportunity to vote for it!

Naz Shah MP
Bradford West

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West Yorkshire Police are urging Class A drug users to use caution following two suspected drugs related deaths in the County on Saturday.

Enquiries remain ongoing into the deaths of a 36-year-old man in Leeds and a 27-year-old man in Normanton, both on April 15.

Officers were called to  Compton View in Leeds at 8:22am and found the body of a 36-year-old at the property.

At about 12.47 on Saturday afternoon, paramedics were called to Park Green, Normanton following reports of a 27-year-old man suffering breathing difficulties.  He passed away at the scene.

Both deaths are being treated as none suspicious and, while toxicology results are being awaited, it is believed they are drugs related.

The deaths are not currently being linked by detectives.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Dunkerley of West Yorkshire Police, said: “Enquiries remain ongoing into both these men’s deaths.  While we are awaiting full toxicology results we do believe these deaths are Class A drugs related.

“The force is aware of warnings issued by other forces in the Yorkshire and Humber region about unusually strong heroin or heroin derivates potentially being in circulation, and given that, it seems prudent to issue a warning now to local drugs users.

“There is no information to suggest such drugs are in circulation here in West Yorkshire but, given the unusual circumstances of two suspected Class A drugs deaths in less than 24 hours, we are conducting enquiries.

“Taking Class A drugs is of course, extremely risky in itself, but we would urge users who experience unusual side effects from taking heroin or substitutes to seek medical help via 111 or in life threatening situations 999.

“Anyone who has information about the distribution of illegal Class A drugs in West Yorkshire is asked to contact West Yorkshire Police on 101.

“Information can also be given anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”

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Award-winning director Ken Loach and Hollywood star Idris Elba are among a string of high-profile figures who’ve criticised the government’s cuts to housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds, ahead of a national demonstration being held in Bradford tomorrow (Saturday).

Ken Loach – whose Bafta-winning film I, Daniel Blake attacks the bureaucratic cruelty of benefit cuts – has thrown his support behind Bradford’s #HouseTheFuture campaign, and has sent a special message to be delivered alongside a string of high-profile speakers at tomorrow’s demonstration, which will take place in Centenary Square.

In his message for the Bradford demonstration, Ken says: “These cuts to housing benefits will make it even harder for many young people to find somewhere to live. More will suffer the instability of homelessness, overcrowding or sofa surfing with friends. And more will be on the streets. The government knows the devastating effect of its policies but carries on regardless. The Tories know they are creating poverty and chaos in people’s lives. Their aim? Drive you to work in the most exploited way possible. Low wages, zero hours, unreliable agency work – a casualised, exploited, vulnerable workforce, where people are afraid to stand up for their rights. That’s Tory Britain.”

This follows comments made by actor Idris Elba, who condemned the government for abolishing housing benefit for 18-21 year-olds who are out of work. Idris said: “We have one of the strongest currencies in the world, why do we have 60,000 women and single mothers’ homeless? The government is trying to take away housing allowances from 18-21-year-olds… No one should be homeless… No one should be hungry.”

Tomorrow’s #HouseTheFuture demonstration in Bradford begins at midday in Centenary Square, and also has the backing of a number of high-profile MPs, including Shadow Minister for Voter Engagement and Youth Affairs, Cat Smith MP.

Cat Smith said: “Cutting housing benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds is a disgraceful attack on young people and could force thousands into homelessness. The Tories claim that they are building “a country that works for everyone” yet are disadvantaging some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. That is why I am supporting the Bradford campaign against the Government’s welfare cuts, and standing up for the younger generation.”

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said: The Government’s decision to scrap housing benefit for those between 18 and 21 is a vicious and senseless attack on some of the most vulnerable in Bradford and across the country, and even the Government’s own figures accept that 10,000 young people will face the impact of these cuts, leading to my fears that thousands will be forced onto the streets with nowhere else to turn. At a time when rough sleeping and homelessness are on the rise, we need to be doing more to help keep young people, who form almost 10% of rough sleepers, off the street, supporting those who have had to leave their homes, not casting them out into the night, and I am proud to put my support behind this campaign.”

The Bradford demonstration has been organised by Bradford Labour councillor and campaigner Richard Dunbar. Cllr Dunbar said: “More and more people are supporting our campaign against the government’s unnecessary and unjust cuts to housing benefit. We would urge everyone to join our national demonstration on Saturday and join the growing number of people who are telling the government that their devastating cuts will be challenged every step of the way.”

Confirmed speakers for the #HouseTheFuture demonstration include Shelly Asquith, NUS Vice President; Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council; Bill Adams, Yorkshire Regional Secretary of the TUC; and Cath Bacon, Bradford Council’s Anti-Poverty Champion.

When Bradford was named the world’s first City of Film in the summer of 2009, it is fair to say a few eyebrows were raised. Overcoming competition from Los Angeles, Cannes and Venice to win the UN honour, Bradford was officially recognised as UNESCO City of Film.

photo 1-5At the time of this prestigious honour in 2009, Bradford played host to the Bradford Film Festival, Bite the Mango International Film Festival and the Bradford Animation Film Festival. Three major film festivals that were serious players in the international annual film calendar. The Bradford Film Festival, hosted and organised by the then named National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, was one of Bradford’s jewels in the crown. In its two decade history, the festival attracting global film stars such as Jean Simmons, Oscar winner Michael (The Deer Hunter) Deeley, John Hurt, Terry Gilliam, Claire Bloom, Richard Attenborough and Kenneth Branagh. Organised by the NMPFT’s Head of Film Bill Lawrence and Festival Director Tony Earnshaw, The Bradford Film Festival “brought a touch of the red carpet, a tangible sense of glamour, the presence of living, breathing film heavyweights and the notion that the north could do it as well as the south. Some said even better” stated Tony Earnshaw at the time.

The Bite the Mango Film Festival was billed as a ‘celebration of world cinema’ and since its inception in 1995 by Carey Sawney who passed on the baton to me in 1998, the festival became one of, if not the leading film festival of its kind in the UK. Between 1998 – 2008, both BIFF and BTM put Bradford on the global map as a city where independent and commercial cinema would be celebrated. Regular world premieres, screen talks, workshops and seminars became common at the NMPFT and the emphasis of film BiFF_logo_new_blkwas very much at the forefront of the Museum’s attraction peaking at almost one million annual visitors. A contribution to the attraction of visitors was the global film personalities that visited the museum. BTM attracted global stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar Pooja Bhatt, the late Om Puri (twice), Mahesh Bhatt, Shabana Azmi, Amit Khan, Anil Kapoor, Samina Peerzada, Meera, Subhash Ghai, Shatrughan Sinha and James McAvoy. With these stars, Bradford and the festival were highlighted in the New York Times, Mumbai Mirror, Screen Daily and other international journals.

Even before the film festivals were born, Bradford has always had a rich history as a city of locations for filmmakers. Famous films such as The Railway Children, L.A. Without a Map, Billy Liar, and The Dresser used locations around the city such as Keighley, Little Germany, Undercliffe and the Alhambra Theatre.

Let us now fast forward to 2017. The NMPFT has changed its name to the National Science and Media Museum (no emphasis on film) and was on the verge of closing in 2013 due to a lack of funding. Bradford now has NO film festival. Bite the Mango was axed in 2010 as it was struggling to “attract the harder to reach communities” according to the Head of Marketing at the time of cancelling. The Fantastic Films Weekend followed in the same vain in 2013 and the Bradford Film Festival was finally put to the sword in 2016 after being ‘temporary cancelled’ a year earlier pending a review. As I said at the time, reviews only mean one thing. Now we know what it meant.

Today, Bradford has very little film activity even though we do have a team at the Bradford City of Film office. Sporadic fringe events do not justify the status of City of Film. The museum, it seems, will now take a direction towards science and as one walks around the struggling venue today, there is no displayed archive of the movie greats that once stood foot in the venue. It is though the museum has eradicated any possible memory of the film festivals that once took place.

Bradford does not deserve the status of City of Film. It’s as plain and simple as that. Doing the odd sporadic event is simply not enough. Unless it once again plays host to a major film festival or the bosses in charge of film activity in the city up their game, the status will remain embarrassing.

by Irfan Ajeeb

 

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by Humaira Rehman, Shire Soliocitors
Since the referendum, there has been confusion about the rights of EU Nationals in the UK as yet there is no clear message as to what will happen after Article 50 is triggered and how the Brexit process will work. However as the law presently stands, we can say with certainty there has been no changes to the rights and status of EU Nationals in the UK and vice versa.

EU Nationals become an initial qualified person by exercising their treaty rights in the UK through employment, self -employment, as a jobseeker for six months, studying in the UK or being economically self-sufficient. The last 2 categories require Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (CSI) that must cover the EEA National and their family members when in the UK.

A student with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can rely on their EHIC card but they must declare that they do not intend to make the UK their home, otherwise CSI will be needed.

For those in employment, it is essential that they are in ‘genuine and effective’ employment. The Home Office measures this based on an applicant’s salary. The current minimum earnings threshold is £155 per week but this is reviewed every year in April. If an applicant is earning less than the minimum threshold, the Home Office may find that an EEA National is not exercising their treaty rights as a worker.

A retired person may be able to rely on their previous employment to claim a right to reside in the United Kingdom. This is normally based on how long they were working in the UK prior to receiving state pension. Alternatively, they can claim to be self-sufficient as long as CSI is in place.

Although EU Nationals have access to the NHS, the UK Government does not recognise this as CSI, as it is not insurance based. EU nationals must have private health insurance which is ‘comprehensive’. What constitutes comprehensive is debatable and even the Home Office have not clarified the position but it is advised that applicants have the highest level of care available.

Family members who are EU Nationals themselves can rely on the main applicant as long as he/she is a qualified person. Non-EEA nationals can also rely on their EEA National but an element of dependency may need to be demonstrated, depending on the nature of the relationship between the parties.

After five years of continuous residence in the UK as a qualified person an EU National becomes eligible for permanent residence and can apply for a document confirming the same. Family members can also apply at the same time provided they have been in the United Kingdom for a five year period as well. It is important to note that until a person obtains a British passport, they must not leave the United Kingdom for a continuous two year period. If this happens, they may lose their permanent residence, depending on each individual’s circumstances.

If you wish to discuss the above please call 0800 772 0413 for a free consultation.

Humaira Rehman is an Immigration Paralegal at Shire Solicitors, 7 Eldon Place BRADFORD BD1 3AZ
h.rehman@shiresolicitors.co.uk

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Bradford’s rising boxing star Hamed Ghaz has teamed up with one of Bradford’s leading eateries Food2Go.

The Afghan born fighter who fights at super lightweight, boasts an unbeaten record of 10-0. The 21-year-old recently fought Michael Mooney at the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds in front of a sell-out crowd overcoming his opponent by a unanimous points decision.

zdvcFood2Go, who are now one of the most established food brands in Bradford, have a history of backing local talent and getting behind charitable causes. Ghaz is the latest local talent that the restaurant is backing.

The light-welterweight has turned some heads on small hall shows and on the undercard of the Josh Warrington-Joel Brunker card in 2015 with some all-action performances. “My style is more of an explosive, aggressive style” was how Ghaz described himself.

Like many, his entry into the sport was rather fortuitous.

“The first time I got into boxing was about nine years ago. I’d been doing some taekwondo but then my gym got closed down and I could never find a better gym,” Ghaz told Urban Echo. “So like seven month went by and I wasn’t doing anything. Then my dad’s mate came round and he was persuading me to go boxing. He said, ‘It’s better than just sitting at home.’ He motivated me in the end to go.

“I started really enjoying boxing more than taekwondo,” he continued. “With boxing, it was more of an aggressive thing. Punching and getting in there. So I just took to boxing. I was liking it more and more. I never missed a day, training hard. My brother and me were pushing each other.”

The young man who came to the UK as a child also feels completely at home here and has the urge like many to represent his local area with pride.

“I left Afghanistan a long time ago,” he said. “I feel Leeds and Bradford, England itself. That’s home. It just feels like home. I’ve spent most of my life here.

“I am very grateful to the Food2Go team for backing me and believing in me. Without my sponsors, it would have been very difficult to be in the position that I am currently in.”

A representative of Food2Go told Urban Echo: “Hamed is a real talent and we believe that he will go a long way in boxing. But first and foremost he is a local lad chasing his dream. That is what we at Food2Go like to support and encourage. We are very proud to be supporting Hamed Ghaz and I hope we can help him realise his dream.”

 

The Broadway Shopping Centre in Bradford  will be hosting auditions for the 2017 season of X Factor on April 15th.

On the search for the next Olly Murs or Little Mix, the producers of the iconic TV show will be holding open auditions in the centre from 10.30am until 5.30pm.

The auditions will be held on a first come, first served basis so candidates are advised to arrive early, and those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult and have a valid ID with them.  Hopefuls may be asked to sing acapella, but may also be allowed to use their own backing track CD or music of their own.

The X Factor has been essential viewing on UK television screens for 13 years, with one of the biggest success stories, Zayn Malik, hailing from Bradford.  These initial auditions will decide which potential superstars have what it takes to go forward and prove themselves in front of the celebrity judges this summer.

General manager of The Broadway Shopping Centre, Ian Ward, is excited to see what talent the auditions reveal: ‘The X Factor has been a huge part of Saturday night television for the last 13 years,. We’re hoping to uncover the city’s next Zayn right here at The Broadway; someone we can all support and be proud of as they take on the X Factor challenge.

‘This audition process could be the first step in an amazing career for any talented Bradfordians who have maybe been hesitant to audition before now.  If you think you can wow Simon Cowell and people all over the UK on live TV, come down to The Broadway on Saturday 15th April and show the producers of X Factor what you’ve got – I know you’ll have the whole of Bradford behind you.’

The X Factor team will be watching auditions from 10.30am until 5.30pm on Saturday April 15th, and you must be over 16 from the 1st July 2017 in order to audition.  Keep an eye on the official X Factor social media channels, as well as The Broadway Facebook page for any updates.

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Bradford Council has taken an option to purchase the former Marks & Spencer building on Darley Street as part of a major £15 million development scheme to regenerate the top end of Bradford, revitalise the city centre markets and support local trade.

The proposal would see a new food-focussed market open in the former Marks & Spencer building in Darley Street. As part of the same proposal, Kirkgate Market would receive a face lift as the result of significant investment to redesign it. It would be the biggest investment in the Market since it opened in 1974.

Once the work on the markets is complete and open to the public, the Oastler Centre would close.  The Council would seek to redevelop the site, focussing on city centre housing, creating a new community which would support both markets and North Parade as the local high street.

Further detailed work to develop these proposals will now be undertaken by the Council. Consultations will be held with market traders, local businesses and other interested parties to gather their views. Market traders were the first to learn about the proposals when they received a letter this morning inviting them to a meeting. The proposals and all feedback will be examined by the Council’s Executive later in the year before reaching a decision.

The Council is also proposing significant public realm improvements on North Parade and nearby streets to make it a more attractive visitor destination and encourage further investment, building on the thriving food and drink offer. North Parade was shortlisted in 2015 in the Great British High Street competition.

These measures are in addition to the £2m grant approved by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Working with property owners, the Council will transform some of Bradford’s most beautiful historic buildings, returning them to their former glory and increasing use and improving the built environment.

In addition to the Heritage Lottery Funding, the Council has set aside money originally planned for the refurbishment of the Oastler Centre. The Council is also in discussions with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority for additional funding.

Coun Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: “Creating a new market at the heart of Darley Street would be brilliant for Bradford.  We have a great food offer and our ambition is for it to be centre stage, in the heart of the City on a street associated with markets in Bradford for generations.

“City centres change all the time, regeneration never stops. In this country our shopping habits have changed enormously and it’s important that Bradford city centre keeps pace with these changes.”

The Council has already enhanced public realm in the city centre by introducing attractive stone paving and planters and will continue to promote the City Centre Growth Zone and Priority Streets funding which offers business rates relief to those businesses who are creating jobs, and support events such as the Creative Streets activities and family entertainment.

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by Zaf Shah
by Zaf Shah
The tragic events of 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities have grabbed attention all over the world. As an unintended consequence, this has changed the way we view the adherents of the Islamic faith.

This brought with it significant challenges for all of us. Indeed, and in Britain this was felt more acutely after the 7/7 London bombings and more recently the attack in Westminister. An ‘us and them’ notion of religious identity separation began to emerge more strongly than ever.

For me, and I am sure many of you reading this, created some real internal struggles. At what level in Islam was this sanctioned, or was it a misinterpretation of the ‘sacred text’?

Is the West at war with Islam? One can argue that the debate over who and what makes someone kill in the name of a religion or a political goal has been exhausted over the course of the last decade.

hqdefaultHowever, the why at the human level still eludes us. For example, why would a seemingly ordinary Bradford family decide to pack their bags and leave for a war zone in the hope of celestial redemption? This question is by no means easy to answer. It is for this reason that I embarked on the greatest intellectual struggle of my life, a PhD programme with the University of Huddersfield’s, Secure Societies Institute.

The research is primarily rooted in religious and political narratives. Anti-Terror legislation also features in the research. The Governments Counter Terrorism Strategy (Prevent) has created untestable suspicions for British Muslims; this is an element not to be overlooked. The research looks specifically at both political and religious narratives told by scholars and political ‘leaders’, that arguably many of us adhere to and act upon as ‘Gospel’. For example, what is it that a ‘scholar’ says that can make us act in ways that is in the traditional normative sense, very alien?

This research brings with it challenges to my own identity in the 21st Century as a British Muslim. To some extent which has never been more curious, and in part, thought provoking. Over the course of my life, I have tried, like many of you to navigate between what it is to be British, Muslim, a Bradfordian and a Yorkshireman. In some ways, I felt as though Britain was looking at my own culture as inferior to the ‘British culture’.

That said, the rationalised country in which I live helps me navigate my place in our social system, one that based on my own experiences with both my Muslim and Christian family has allowed me to create a distinct role, yet without a clash between my faith(s) and society. The community to which I belong has allowed me to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that my own social identity plays a distinct part in shaping not only my own views, but also how I view the wider world and its citizens. While grappling with my own identity, my faith has allowed me to, understand and accept that the rights of all members of the human collective are not at odds with Islam. Yet at the same time, it is difficult to see where, given the rise of fundamentalism and traditionalist Islam, if ever Islam in the West will be able to reconcile the varying and competing interpretations of Sharia’h with human rights.

The events playing out in the Middle East serve as a constant reminder of the challenges British Muslims face in trying to understand the links between a faraway land and their rightful place in Britain. Britain has seen a surge in imported and transplanted traditions into society, both Islamic and cultural. While, this brings with it challenges, my experience of society through the British education system, and familial experiences, has allowed me to engage with a different set of values. Values which have gone on and continue to enrich my identity.

On a monthly basis, I will try to answer some of the provocative questions you may have. For example, is the West at War with Islam? Is the Government Prevent strategy a state spying tool aimed solely at Muslims? This is just a sample of what is going to be a journey of discovery and intellectual enlightenment, with the main purpose to bring us closer, rather than allow discord and divisions to be sown by a few.

Mr Zaf Shah, BA (Hons) PGC Law
PhD Scholar
Secure Societies Institute

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