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Free book download: ‘Tries and Prejudice’

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Ikram’s book ‘Tries and Prejudice’ can be downloaded here: Click on the picture

Ikram’s book ‘Tries and Prejudice’ can be downloaded here: Click on the picture

 

The autobiography of England’s first Muslim rugby international has been released free of charge on Amazon.

Ikram Butt, who played Rugby League for England as well as rugby union for Pakistan, has worked tirelessly over the past 13 years to build bridges between communities through a number of organisations including his own BARA (British Asian Rugby Association).

His hard hitting yet entertaining autobiography ‘Tries and Prejudice’, co-authored by Tony Hannan, is available to download for Kindle without cost. It covers his life in professional sport and challenges faced away from the pitch growing up in Yorkshire.

Ikram explained: “As a Muslim living in Britain I was disgusted and saddened by the attacks in Manchester and London. In my work over the years in using sport to unite communities it’s clear that we have to find common ground between ourselves.

“Our similarities will always far outweigh our differences and bringing people together of all backgrounds and faiths using sport does work. I have seen it time and time again and we must persist down this path.

“Practical measures must be taken to mitigate the chance of radicalization by getting young people involved in activities that build bridges. Sport can achieve so much in this respect if the political will is there,” added Ikram.

Ikram is widely recognised as one of the most influential British Asian role models and recipient of an honorary doctorate from Leeds Beckett University as well as a Fellowship from Bradford College for using sport to change people's lives.

Ikram carries out ambassadorial duties for the British Asian Trust and Mosaic, both founded by HRH Prince Charles as well as being a leading voice in the White Ribbon Campaign aimed at raising awareness of abuse by men against women and girls.

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Skateboard fury: Hindus voice disappointment with Amazon over “inappropriate” Lord Ganesh items for sale

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Hindus are disappointed with world's largest online retailer Amazon.com for continuing to carry skateboards, bed covers, duvet covers and bedspreads; showing images of Hindu deity Lord Ganesha; which they called highly inappropriate and urged their withdrawal a while back.

WITHDRAWAL: Hindu statesman Rajan Zed in Nevada, USA,  says he’s “disappointed” with Amazon after it continues to sell goods carrying images of the Hindu deity

WITHDRAWAL: Hindu statesman Rajan Zed in Nevada, USA, says he’s “disappointed” with Amazon after it continues to sell goods carrying images of the Hindu deity

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, who spearheaded the protest, in a statement in Nevada said that Lord Ganesha was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to put your feet on or touch with your feet or sleep on it. Inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the faithful.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged Amazon.com and its President Jeffrey P. Bezos to offer a formal apology, besides withdrawing about few dozen of such products, as this was not the first time for the company to offer such products which were deemed offensive by Hindu devotees.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with about one billion adherents and a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken frivolously. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Rajan Zed indicated.

Zed further said that such trivialization of Lord Ganesha was disturbing to the Hindus world over. Hindus were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivialising it hurt the followers, Zed added.

In Hinduism, Lord Ganesha is worshipped as god of wisdom and remover of obstacles and is invoked before the beginning of any major undertaking. There are about three million Hindus in USA.

Amazon.com, Inc., a Fortune 500 company founded in 1994, and headquartered in Seattle (USA), claims to offer earth’s biggest selection of retail goods.

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Christmas’ unlikely star: Amazon ad makes Leicester Imam a festive face

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IT’S KNEEL-Y CHRISTMAS!: Zubeir Hassam and Rev. Gary Bradley are the two stars of Amazon’s Christmas ad this year

IT’S KNEEL-Y CHRISTMAS!: Zubeir Hassam and Rev. Gary Bradley are the two stars of Amazon’s Christmas ad this year

Forget the northern star; Imam Zubeir Hassam is the Midlands star.

A man who very few people may know by name, he is the clergyman selected by Amazon to front their 2016 Christmas ad this year.

Depicting the story of an imam and a priest at Christmas, the advert shows the two respected faith leaders exchanging presents, which both turn out to be knee supports for their prayers and sermons.

Seen across all major channels, the commercial was praised by social commentators from every background.

For Zubeir, he says it was a good reflection of true faith relationships.

“The reaction from my community across Leicestershire has been tremendous,” he said during a Facebook Live video on Al Jazeera.

“It was the reflection that showed that the two faiths get along very well ... And I think that hug we gave each other that really got everyone.”

When not on television, Zubeir is a principal of the Muslim School Oadby, in Leicestershire, whilst his co-star, Reverend Gary Bradley, is the vicar of Little Venice in London.

The pair have since become friends following their unexpected rise to fame and are in regular contact with each other.

Whether or not the duo will be exchanging gifts this Christmas is yet to be seen, yet Zubeir insists it is something he promotes amongst all communities.

“We do this kind of thing all the time (exchanging gifts),” he said. “It is just that it is never shown on television.

“There are not reports going out saying faith leaders are getting on. This ad has probably broken that ice and has brought more people together.

“I am sure come Christmas, neighbours will be knocking on each other’s doors, saying ‘I am Zubeir and I bring something for you’. I do that often in my street where I live and take food to the doors.”

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World’s largest tropical forest in peril

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Recent drought completely shut down the Amazon Basin’s carbon sink

The most extensive land-based study to date, led by researchers at the Universities of Leeds and Exter, on the effect of drought on Amazonian rainforests has shown that a recent drought completely shut down the Amazon Basin’s carbon sink.

Previous research has suggested that the Amazon – the most extensive tropical forest on Earth – may be gradually losing its capacity to take carbon from the atmosphere.

This new study paints a more complex picture, with forests responding dynamically to an increasingly variable climate.

The researchers studied two large-scale droughts that occurred just five years apart, in 2005 and 2010.

The aim was to better understand how drought affects tree growth, and therefore the rate of uptake by trees of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Study co-author Professor Oliver Phillips, from the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, said: “For more than 20 years the Amazon has been providing a tremendous service, taking up hundreds of millions more tonnes of carbon every year in tree growth than it loses through tree death.

In the first basin-wide study of the impact of the 2010 drought and its interaction with previous droughts, the international team of researchers found that tree growth was markedly slowed by drought across the vast forests of the Amazon. 

By using long-term measurements from the RAINFOR network spanning nearly a hundred locations across the Amazon Basin, the team was able to examine the responses of trees.

While both droughts killed many trees, the 2010 drought also had the effect of slowing the growth rates of the survivors – shutting down the Amazon’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

As the most extensive tropical forest on Earth, the Amazon forest stores 100 billion tonnes of carbon in biomass, so changes here have global consequences.

The research provides important new understanding of the impact of climatic change on the behaviour of forests and carbon dioxide levels.

The researchers caution there is still much to learn.

Not only are droughts now occurring more frequently, but temperatures across Amazonia are on the rise, having hit all-time records in 2015.

As climate change proceeds, a better understanding of the combined impacts of droughts and heatwaves on tropical forests is urgently needed. 

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