BEAMING: Patriotic Abrar-ul-Haq is delighted to see Pakistan’s Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed as the back page story of Asian Express
“At a time when I was in the middle of negotiating the right price for the plane, my mother passed away. That changed everything for me.”
“The hospital, whose services are free and funded through Zakat (Islamic taxes), has treated some 2.7 million people to date.”
Hailed as one of Pakistan’s most-loved pop, bhangra and folk singers, Abrar-ul-Haq says that through his music helping those who don’t have access to medical facilities is a top priority to him.
ALL SMILES: Asian Express’s CEO Nadim Hanif is a big fan of Abrar-ul-Haq
The 48-year-old philanthropist, speaking exclusively to the Asian Express Newspaper is currently putting 200 students through medical college in Pakistan.
Born in Faisalabad and after completing his Masters in Social Sciences, he became a teacher in Lahore. Abrar-ul-Haq shot to stardom in 1995 with his debut single ‘Billo De Ghar’, which became an overnight success.
Though the song erupted great controversy due to the chants young men were making in the streets using the first line of the song, ‘Billo De Ghar’, his debut album sold over 16 million copies worldwide.
Over the last two decades Abrar-ul-Haq, the youngest of eight siblings, has become one of Pakistan’s top celebrities that is using his hard-earned fame for charitable causes.
From a Punjabi background and recently married, 34-year-old Jag is a real ‘family man’. With a liberal, left-wing attitude, he is open-minded and extremely affable.
Growing up in Dewsbury, his early life has helped him understand how many different races, religions and backgrounds gel together into one brilliant, dynamic and cohesive community across the north of England.
He said: “I believe Asian Express represents the world we live in, today.
“We don’t live in a society which is segregated, as the mainstream media wants us to believe.
“I’m proud to work for a company which is religiously and politically unbiased and the paper is a great vehicle for any business - that’s any shape or size - to shout and scream about what they stand for.”
Jag’s parents used to own a small shop that closed down due to bigger corporations coming into the town and ‘stealing’ their business.
“I’m here to support independent business owners because I understand what it’s like. I have a vast knowledge of different businesses, from e-commerce to hospitality. I believe people buy from people and I strive to build friendships first and foremost with my clients.”
So how did Jag come to join the Asian Express team?
“I met Nadim, our Managing Director, in June 2015 whilst working at Mumtaz Leeds as an Operations Manager.
“He was impressed with the Graphic Design work that I did for the company and when he found out about my sales background, he took me on board. I started working here in February 2016 and haven’t looked back.”
Jag describes his work ethic as methodical, fair and understanding; whilst his co-workers would say he’s ‘a real good guy’. They even went along to his wedding this year, where they were treated to Langar and a lot of laughs.
“I’ve always been an Asian Express reader, along with my family. My favourite section of the paper would be the local news and motors.”
Watch out for Jag... who’ll be looking for business in your area very soon!
DEMONSTRATION: Paveen Yaqub stands outside court in Istanbul which has now ruled that the case be adjourned
High court adjourned as Gaza freedom flotilla fight continues
Families and friends of those killed six years ago in an armed naval attack - led by Israeli Commanders on a ship delivering aid to Gaza – will have to wait at least two more months for answers after the latest court hearing was adjourned.
The 7th Criminal Court of Istanbul held its thirteenth hearing of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla case on 19th October for the fatal raid, of the Mavi Marmara, that took place on 31st May 2010.
However, despite the longevity of the case, a further postponement was deemed necessary by authorities after the last judge was not considered to be impartial.
Paveen Yaqub, who was part of the aid flotilla and saw a fellow passenger – Ugur Suleyman - on board the ship die from a bullet wound to the head, said she is ‘disappointed but not deterred’.
On the latest adjournment, she said: “I felt mistrustful and wondered if it was a tactical move because we had many people represented from different countries, who were flotilla victims.”
She continued: “Perhaps the court and the government think that if they delay, fewer of us will come back in December, and it would be easier for the court to carry through the sentiments of the Turkish and Israeli governments, who have reached their own political agreement that should have no bearing on our legal process.”
During the 2010 attack, nine humanitarian activists were killed and another was left in a coma after he was shot in the head. He later passed away.
Other passengers suffered bullet wounds, dozens were left injured, and hundreds were ‘traumatised’ after being subjected to a bloody and brutal attack at sea.
Surviving victims were subsequently taken from international waters to Israel and detained, until international outrage and intervention ensured their freedom and safe return to home countries, including passengers from the UK.
The flotilla consisted of a fleet of humanitarian ships carrying vital aid and hundreds of charity workers bound for the besieged Gaza strip.
SURVIVOR: Paveen Yaqub was on board an aid ship when it was attacked by Israeli Commanders
Asian Express talked exclusively to Paveen Yaqub about her experiences:
Do the horrors of the Mavi Marmara still feel like yesterday?
Being in Istanbul for the purpose of the court hearing always brings me closer to the memories of the horror that unfolded six years ago when Israeli naval forces opened fire on a on the Mavi Marmara humanitarian ship. Tonight, in Istanbul, victims who have travelled from various countries will gather for a pre-court briefing.
Tomorrow will be worse because the families of those killed will be in court - as they always are.
Seeing them always makes me deeply sad because, not only are they still grieving the loss of their loved ones, but they again will hear the details of the brutality that ended the lives of their husbands, fathers and sons. Yet still justice has not been delivered to them, or any of us who survived the terror that Israel brought to bear on innocent civilians.
What are you hoping to come out of this court case? Do you think you will ever get justice for Ugur Suleyman?
I hope that this court case marks history in shaping a trajectory that holds Israel accountable for its crimes against humanity, for its flagrant disregard for international and humanitarian law, for its illegal military occupation; its criminal blockade of Gaza, and its privileged position of impunity granted by the USA, the UK and the UN.
This isn't simply seeking justice for Ugur Suleyman, Furkan Dogan, or the eight other humanitarians whose lives were worthless in the eyes of Israel commandos - neither is this a justice that I seek for me.
This is a stance against Israeli state terrorism and a service to humanity, a symbolic effort for Palestinians and any other oppressed people that the international community has abandoned because it does not serve their own political and diplomatic interests to care.
Whether we achieve justice or not, it doesn't change the truth nor does it deter me from knowing 'human rights from human wrongs', even if our politicians struggle with this simple concept.
Do you believe news in today’s climate is easily forgotten/ disposable/ and that atrocities get brushed over all too easily?
News always moves at a fast pace and with so many atrocities in the world, it’s difficult for people to respond meaningfully as it can become too overwhelming.
Death and violent conflict is so prevalent that people can also fall into an apathetic state or simply don't want to hear about it anymore, so they disconnect.
However, what is very clear to me is that for mainstream media there is a distinction between those whom deserve our attention and those who do not: the lives which matter and those which are dispensable.
It's a desperately sad situation to consider that, by denying truth and a fair representation of conflict, the mainstream media industry is shaping views about who the victims and perpetrators are, even if these representations are false, biased and misleading.
This dismissive approach to reporting the truth is what is helping to stoke the fires of conflict, unrest and division in our communities.
I have first-hand experience of the BBC for example, reporting the flotilla raid in such a distorted and unfair way. I was there. I know what leading media anchors did to the truth, leaving me questioning so much of what our media and our governments tell us.
How are you rebuilding your life? Do you feel strong?
I am doing better these days and focusing on rebuilding not just my life but my sense of who I am again.
Israel stole something from me that I doubt will ever return but fortunately they didn't take the most important thing I own, my faith. I realise that it's not what is taken from you in this life that matters but what you give, and what you find as you walk the road ahead with belief, hope and humanity. I have something the Israeli commandos were devoid of: I have value for the life of others and I have no place in my heart for hate, not even for them.
I would hope that others who feel they want to serve humanity do so with constructive action and use the processes available to them.
People touched or angered by injustice should hold on to how they feel and channel that into practical actions like lobbying politicians or campaigning peacefully but robustly.
Whether we like it or not, politics is where the power is held and that's where we have to take our grievances over and over again until our governments heed our concerns.
As Leeds continues to build on its ever-growing reputation as the ‘capital of the north’, exciting investment opportunities continue to arise with a helping hand from Parklane Properties.
Established for over 25 years, the Parklane group are the number one estate agents in Leeds city centre with an ever growing award-winning portfolio of properties for tenants and investors.
Amongst them is the new off-plan development, Victoria House, located in the northern quarter of the city centre.
With a guaranteed net yield of eight per cent for three years, properties like this do not come on the market very often, especially with a reservation fee of just £5,000.
Within walking distance of the city centre, and in close proximity of the new Victoria Gate Shopping Centre and local universities, these are apartments ideal of investors and owner occupiers alike.
Hi-tech one and two-bedroom apartments are still available alongside contemporary studios, with communal gardens, a concierge service and en-suite bathrooms all included in your investment.
With fantastic returns on your investment, and available at 20 per cent less than market comparables, Victoria House could be the perfect opportunity you have been searching for.
Perhaps you are on the lookout for a different type of investment? Well with Parklane Properties, there are always more options available.
The X1 Aire apartments, on East Street, have received much interest from investors across the country and beyond, looking to capitalise on the vastly undersupplied rental market in the city centre.
A stunning range of apartments are available for every budget, from bespoke one-bed apartments to luxury penthouses, and again offer up an amazing net yield of six per cent in year one.
Taking boutique living to the next level in Leeds, X1 Aire apartments are guaranteed to impress, with onsite amenities including a private gym and management office to compliment your stunning accommodation.
Find out more information about these two properties and many more investment opportunities across the city centre by visiting www.parklane properties.com now.
Bradford’s city centre has undergone some major changes in recent history, with redevelopments and renovation work occurring across the region.
One building however has remained at the heart of all of this for over a century as the Great Victoria Hotel celebrates 150 years of dedicated service.
Built in 1867, the iconic venue is so much more than a place to rest your head, with dozens of couples tying the knot at the city’s grandest hotel every year.
From the classic Victorian high ceilings, to grand staircases and glittering chandeliers, the Great Victoria has an aura of prestige and history in every room.
Today more than ever, it is the perfect setting for the most important and memorable of occasions, combining urban chic with traditional splendour.
Husbands and wives-to-be continue to choose the venue for their big day with specially tailored Asian Wedding Packages providing everything you need to make your day as perfect as it should be.
Everything from the delectable menu to the table linen can be organised for your convenience, with three-course menus developed by chefs from Pakistan, and approved by couples right here in Bradford.
Every bespoke package is uniquely developed around your needs, with experienced wedding co-ordinator, Rachel Pollard, on hand to inspire, guide and arrange any necessity you have.
“We have always received amazing feedback from Asian weddings hosted here, from the bride and groom themselves to guests from across the country,” she said.
“Last month we launched our new Asian Wedding Package service, ensuring no detail is overlooked for a couple’s big day and allowing us to help create special moments that will last a lifetime.
“We offer a personal touch to every wedding organised and take great pride in delivering exactly what the bride and groom want and deserve.”
As well as boasting an unparalleled history, the Great Victoria Hotel can cater for all the guests on your wedding day through their Corniche and Velasco Suites.
With original Victorian features, including high ceilings, draped elegant curtains and natural light bursting through grand windows, the Corniche Room is packed with delightful surprises.
Likewise, the Velasco Suite offers a visually-stunning concept for guests, as the classic elegance of the Victoria Hotel meets a contemporary twist, setting the scene for a perfect wedding.
For the more intimate occasions, the Camargue room, with original fireplaces and natural light, is the perfect venue for vows to be exchanged, whilst the Dragon Fly Suite can accommodate any smaller gathering.
After the biggest day of your lives, unwind in the luxurious Bridal Suite, with a stunning king-sized bed and couple’s baths helping you relax in style.
Guests can also retire to their spacious rooms and suites with accommodation to suit every budget.
The Great Victoria Hotel has a history like no other venue in Bradford. Why not add the next chapter yourself and make your big day the perfect day in the city’s grandest setting.
The Artz-I partners (l-r) Fuad Khan, Tehreem Rasul and Mohammed Rasul
Whether you are looking for a unique gift for a special friend or a piece of art to act as a focal point in your home or office, Artz-I has the perfect contemporary or classic Islamic design for you.
With an expansive showroom exhibiting over 100 pieces of intricate art, the Bradford-based business has quickly established itself as a reputable supplier of must-see, must-have designs.
From winding calligraphy imported from Istanbul, to oil paintings from Pakistan and in-house creations, there is a painting, carving or design waiting for you.
Mohammed Rasul established Artz-i with business partners, Tehreem Rasul and Fuad Khan, and explained more about the exciting exhibition gallery on the third floor.
“When we opened Artz-I, we wanted to combine our sales floors of furniture and handicrafts from around the world, with something completely unique, not only in Bradford but probably in the whole of the UK – a dedicated Islamic art Gallery,” he said.
“In the coming months, we hope to exhibit even more locally-produced Islamic art because there are a lot of talented artists in this area yet no platform to show their work.
“Even though there are websites out there, we have found that art lovers much prefer to see art work in the flesh, rather than online.
“We do not expect our customers to have to pay above their means to purchase a piece of art, and that is why we give all artists a chance – ensuring you are not simply paying more for a ‘name’.”
As well as traditional canvas paintings, calligraphy designs are also available on framed travertine stone, giving an aged and authentic look, and proving extremely popular with customers.
All sizes are available, with an in-house framing service helping to make any modifications you need to create the framed work you desire.
Meanwhile, customers can find unique embossed gold and silver-foiled wall art, designed and completed by Artz-I’s own team of artists for the more individual creations.
“We try to showcase the widest variety of Islamic art we can in our showroom,” Mohammed added. “Everybody has different tastes and that is reflected in our range.”
Keep an eye out for upcoming exhibitions at Artz-I with a collection of local artists having a chance to shine in November.
Working in collaboration with Bradford council, the expansive showroom will showcase all types of art and give the public a chance to pick up a unique piece, perfect for their living room wall or in their office, setting them apart from the rest.
In Early 2016, an international exhibition will also be held, with the focus once again on unique Islamic creations.
“This is a big aim of ours, to bring together local and international talent, to form a unique showroom,” Mohammed said.
“Since opening our doors, we have had orders from all around the world, from London to New York, and we look forward to seeing even more new faces walk through our doors in coming weeks.”
Akshay Kumar son 13-year-old Aarav, joined his mum Twinkle and grandmother Dimple for a procession before offering the prayers
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was spotted with her daughter Aaradhya
Vinayak Chaturthi, the Hindu festival celebrated in honour of the elephant-headed god Ganesha, has been celebrated with its affiliated vibrancy all across the world.
The modern-day version of public celebrations in India involves installing clay murtis (idols) of Ganesha in public pandals (temporary shrines) and worshipped together for ten days. It’s not uncommon for some murtis to scale to 70 feet in height.
But in Mumbai, there is a special spirit of oneness when you see Bollywood stars join the excitement, visiting the famous Siddhivinayak Temple to take part in the ‘aarti’, like any commoner. Aarti is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to one or more deities.
The 10-day festival kick-started on 17th September whilst the grand immersion took place on 27th, after which the idol is immersed into water.
Vivek Oberoi with his adorable children – two-year-old Vivaan Veer Oberoi and five-month old daughter Ameyaa Nirvana Oberoi
It was adorable to see their little ones joining them, showing great composure while partaking in the prayer ceremonies. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was spotted with her daughter Aaradhya at the GSB Ganpati pandal. The three-year-old looked the absolute spitting image of her mom.
Vivek Oberoi as well was seen celebrating the occasion with his adorable children – two-year-old Vivaan Veer Oberoi and five-month old daughter Ameyaa Nirvana Oberoi at his residence.
Sanjay Dutt and Manyata Dutt’s four-year-old twins – Shahraan and Iqra offered pooja to Lord Ganesh
Sanjay Dutt and Manyata Dutt’s four-year-old twins – Shahraan and Iqra offered pooja to Lord Ganesh in the presence of their parents before the immersion of the idol in a tank at their residence. The twins will turn five this October, and Shahraan already has grown taller than his sister Iqra.
Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra took their little boy Viaan for the immersion. Raj carried his son on his shoulders while Shilpa danced along with the crowd.
Meanwhile Rishi Kapoor and Neethu Singh were joined by their daughter Riddhima and granddaughter Samara while offering prayers at a temple.
Akshay Kumar son Aarav, who turned 13 recently, joined his mum Twinkle and grandmother Dimple for a procession before offering the prayers and immersing the idol in the sea.
Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra took their little boy Viaan for the immersion
Mr. Cameron said that anyone reading the letter could see that it clearly praises the Muslim community saying that they make a great contribution to UK, and that what is happening in terms of extremist terror has nothing to do with the true religion of Islam.
The letter had also praised the way Muslims in Britain had responded to the Paris terror attacks and Mr. Cameron said that he believes that in no way did it intend to undermine Muslims in Great Britain and that the letter was being taken out of context.
When question on wether he understands how the Muslim's in Britain may be feeling exposed and vulnerable to stigmatisation by the letter, Mr. Cameron says: “We cannot turn away from Islamist extremism, all of us have to look at this and ask how do we combat this poisonous narrative. Obviously we needed the Muslim community in Great Britain to join us on this.”
The Prime Minister said that the Iraq war or 911 attack was just a wake up call to the realisation of radicalisation of vulnerable young Muslim men and that “we cannot turn away from this - all of us have to look at this and is ask how do we combat this distorted view of Islam - peaceful religion,” he says.
He criticised the Governemnt's old Prevent programme stating that it was a “bit muddled” and that it didn't do very well on either objectives of trying to support mosques and prevent terrorism. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration to prevent terrorism.
“Obviously we need the Muslim community in Great Britain to work with us.
“We need to unite to make a clear and loud definition between Islam - religion of peace and Islamist extremism, and we need the help of the Muslim leaders on facilitating this,” says the Prime Minister.
He added that he feels rooting out terrorism is a generational challenge and feels that it will take some time to overcome.
“We must unite as a nation to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. “At the same time, we have to stand up and fight against Islamophobia.
“It's a real problem in our country and it makes people feel vulnerable and fearful and it is extremely unpleasant and unnecessary,” he says.
Faith leaders, he says, are in a unique position in British society as they have a precious opportunity and important responsibility in explaining and demonstrating how faith in Islam can be part of British identity.
David Cameron pays a visit to Britain’s largest free Asian newspaper and joins ABDN conference with Yorkshire’s business leaders
WARM WELCOME: Eight-year-old Shyla Hanif greets the Prime Minister at the Asian Express offices with a bouquet of flowers
Prime Minister David Cameron traded 10 Downing Street for 4 Armley Court earlier this week as he paid a visit to the UK’s largest free pick-up Asian publication.
The Prime Minister graced the offices of Asian Express Newspaper on Thursday 5th February, as part of his visit to Yorkshire where he further pledged his commitment to end the ‘decades old divide between the North and South’.
AN HONOUR: Team Asian Express delighted to have the Prime Minister David Cameron at their offices in Leeds
Mr Cameron seemed very relaxed as he met with the dedicated team of Asian Express, who welcomed his arrival at the Leeds-based offices.
A few jokes were cracked about how tall the PM actually was, where Mr Cameron laughingly stated that TV cameras make everyone seem short and stout
Being led on a tour of the Asian Express Newspaper office’s by co-founders, Managing Director Nadim Hanif, and Editor-in-Chief, Andleeb Hanif, Mr Cameron viewed some of the recent front page headlines and commended the newspaper for its work on not just a local but national level.
TOUR: Founders of Asian Express Nadim and Andleeb Hanif show the Prime Minister around the building and discuss the paper
The Prime Minister had also facilitated a conference with the Asian Business Development Network (ABDN) in Leeds, which has recently been acquired by Nadim Hanif. A number of Yorkshire’s most influential Asian business leaders attended the meeting, chaired by Mr Gurdev Dahele.
Mr Cameron spoke to them about the launch of the Yorkshire phase of the government’s economic ‘Northern Powerhouse’ scheme, and reiterated the importance of Asian businesses and the role they play in Britain’s recovering economy.
CONFERENCE: Mr Cameron discusses the importance of Asian business with ABDN board members and guests
Matters of concern to small and medium sized ethnic businesses were discussed, as well as the absence, or very little representation, of Asians in LEPs, and subsequent opportunities for professionals to hold higher executive roles on a local government level.
He recognised the entrepreneurial nature of the Asian community and said that he was keen to work with organisations such as ABDN, who would play a key role in building a Northern Powerhouse with a world-class infrastructure, backing businesses and supporting industries of the future.
EXCLUSIVE: Mr Cameron has a one-to-one discussion with Managing Editor Andleeb Hanif and MD Nadim Hanif
The Prime Minister highlighted his commitment of a long-term economic plan for Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, which would create more jobs and financial security for hardworking people across the region.
Yorkshire business people, Asian Express Newspaper staff and Prime Minister David Cameron