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Archive for July, 2009

Last year I launched a family solutions charity for Muslims. Unity Family Services, based in Glasgow, helps Scottish Muslims solve personal disputes. So far we have saved dozens of marriages, an outcome which is best for the couple, the children, and society in general. Our main adviser on Islamic law, Shaykh Amer Jamil, is trained not just in Islamic law, but also in British law, and an important part of his job is ensuring that there are no conflicts between them.

Some people have accused us of trying to implement sharia law by the back door through this counseling service. They are wrong. The use of Islamic rules to settle disputes poses no threat whatsoever to British law. Let me explain.

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Madjid Bougherra

He’s 6 foot 3 and he’s got a tan,
He doesnae eat at Ramadan,
Madjid Bougherra the Rangers centre half

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Today’s Sunday Herald carried a piece about our plan to hold events in the Middle East next year aimed at promoting Scotland.

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Tabloid stories about “fanatical Muslims” are so common these days as to merit barely more than a passing glance, and are very often based on nothing but a fear-mongering agenda. The difference in the case of alleged threats against the Pakistani Café in Glasgow’s south side is that the accuser is a Pakistani non-Muslim.

According to the Daily Record, “Jimshaed Sharif, 50, says he has become a target for fanatical Muslims because he plays music and serves alcohol”. Anna Smith wrote in the News of the World: “So if ever we needed a wake-up call to the level of bigotry from Islamic fanatics who live among us, then the owner of the Pakistani Café in Glasgow has given us that. Jimshaed Sharif has shown the kind of raw courage that should be applauded by the stance he has taken against the extremists who have threatened him in the name of their twisted view of religion.”

It is the easiest thing in the world to smear someone as an “extremist”, “fanatic” etc. and these matters, for people interested in truth and fairness, need some scratching below the surface. For others, a person’s claim to have received death threats is enough of a guarantee of credibility.

The Record article included a tale about a young man campaigning for a “separate Muslim cemetery” who left and came back with over a dozen friends who “started causing a disturbance telling me I had to stop playing music and selling alcohol. It got so bad I had to call the police.”

That “young man” was me.

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The sheriff presiding over the case of Neil MacGregor has ordered that he be admitted to psychiatric hospital for further tests before his next hearing regarding sentencing on 31st July. See BBC for more.

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