Ed Husain, professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service in Georgetown University, visited mosques across Britain, speaking to businesses owners, imams and locals about life in predominantly Muslim neighbourhoods. He used his on-the-ground research to write a book, ‘Among The Mosques: A Journey Across Muslim Britain’, which is set for release next week.
The Muslim author grew up in a Bangladeshi family in London and was radicalised in his youth before renouncing extremism. According to the professor, integration issues in the UK continue to persist.
One man in Blackburn told Husain that “Asian” teengers repeatedly “jumped” his 12-year-old son simply for “being white.” Another local told the author that certain parts of the town had become “no-go areas.” Blackburn has the largest Muslim population in the UK outside of London, and is a major hub for ultra-orthodox Islamic sects.
Husain also learned that one school in the town had barred girls from participating in swimming lessons, saying that it was inappropriate for them to be seen in bathing costumes.
While visiting a bookstore in Blackburn, the author stumbled across several volumes advocating strict restrictions and dress codes for women, as well as copies of a book which argued that it is sinful to enjoy dancing and listening to music. The town also reportedly has restaurants that provide gender separation for their clientele.
While visiting Bradford, Husain was amazed by how few white residents there were, and was reportedly told by a taxi driver that they had “gone with the wind.” He noted that mosques were on nearly every corner and that even private homes served as places of worship and religious schools. The professor also learned that some Muslim parents in the area had prohibited their children from going to drawing and dance lessons.
An imam in the city confided that there was “widespread abuse of disabled children in the Muslim community,” and that parents were pocketing social welfare money while neglecting their children.
In Didsbury, the author came across a sign for a local ‘Sharia Department’, which deals with marital issues and other disputes through the lens of Islamic law.
He reported similar interactions and situations in places like Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
One woman told him that some Muslim communities in the UK had become a “different universe” from the rest of the country.
Like other European countries, the UK has struggled with integrating immigrants from Muslim-majority nations, sparking concern about radicalisation. At the same time, reports suggest that there is a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the country. During Husain’s trip to Bradford, a local predicted that anti-Muslim sentiment could lead to “an apartheid city” within 30 years and give rise to Nazi-like political parties that would persecute immigrants.
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