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.
I was actually organising a clean-up at the local existing Muslim cemetery in my spare time, something that was supported by local politicians. I’ve also organised clean-ups in Christian cemeteries.
We had a table booked, as the Café’s employees confirmed on our arrival. In written testimony, one of the others there, Dr Nadeem Bhatti, states that on that day – 9th May 2009 – he was on his way to meet us at the Café when he received a call around 8.45pm saying that I had been thrown out for being a “fascist”. On his arrival, he tried to reason with the proprietor but Mr Sharif insisted that he could throw out whomever he wished, so the men went outside to wait in their cars for others to arrive. It was when a third man, Dr Khalid Malik, tried to smooth things over that he was “manhandled out” and the owner shouted: “You fascist terrorist Muslim bastards”.
It was us that contacted the police, not Mr Sharif, and we waited in our cars in order to give our statements to the police. We were a group of respectable professionals not used to being treated in such a way, and far from the “thugs” portrayed in the opportunistic media coverage.
The fact is that practising Muslims brought up in Scotland are quite at ease with the fact that there are countless establishments that sell alcohol. Although Islam prohibits any dealings with intoxicants, unfortunately there are Muslim shopkeepers and cash-and-carry owners who sell alcohol, and even they do not face much criticism from the community. One has to wonder why Jimshaed Sharif would be the specific target for such opprobrium. Furthermore, music is such an everyday part of life that it seems quite absurd for a group of Muslims to object to music being played in a restaurant, even if many do avoid music as far as possible for religious reasons.
In summary, the reality is quite a different one from that published uncritically in the papers. It is a story of anti-Muslim bigotry, which is now with the authorities to investigate. The fact was as soon as he saw the word ‘Muslim’ on my leaflet, he went crazy.
I am collecting a dossier on bad experiences at the Pakistani Cafe. If you have similarly suffered there, please email me
Posted by Rizy Mohammed