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Firefighter’s Ramadan advice

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South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service are urging Muslim communities to take extra care ahead of one of the most important periods in the Islamic calendar.

Bosses fear people are more likely to be at risk of fire during Ramadan, which is now underway until 25 June.

Head of community safety Trevor Bernard, said:

“We recognise this is a really important time in the Islamic calendar, but want to make sure people observe it safely.

“In particular, people should take extra care to keep an eye on their cooking, as fasting could leave you feeling tired and more likely to become distracted or have an accident.

“Smoke alarms are the best way of making sure that if a fire does occur, you have the vital extra minutes to escape. So make sure smoke alarms are fitted on every level of your home and test them regularly.

“It’s also vital that if the smoke alarm do sound, everyone in the house knows what to do and knows how to escape, so talk this through with your family and loved ones.”

Recommended to stay safe during Ramadan:

Half of all house fires start in the kitchen, so take extra care when cooking, particularly with hot oil – it sets alight easily.

Never throw water on a burning pan – in the event of a fire get out, stay out and call 000.

Take extra care with clothing – make sure hijaabs, shalwar, kameez and saris are kept well away from the hob.

Plan escape routes – and make sure every member of your family knows it well.

Have a working smoke alarm on every floor of your home-  test them weekly to make sure they work.

Cohesion over the Channel: Interfaith visit brings communities together

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COMING TOGETHER: The delegation, organised by London Faiths Forum, laid flowers outside the Bataclan almost one year on from the Daesh attacks

COMING TOGETHER: The delegation, organised by London Faiths Forum, laid flowers outside the Bataclan almost one year on from the Daesh attacks

Faith leaders from across the UK visited Paris’ infamous Bataclan Theatre last week to pay their respects to those killed during the terror attacks last year in the French capital.

On 13th November 2015, gunmen opened fire in the popular music venue, killing 89 people, while attacks elsewhere in the city resulted in 41 more deaths and injuries to more than 350.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks, leading to a rise in community tensions across the country.

This past week, Muslim leaders from the UK, including Leeds’ Qari Asim, imam at the Makkah Masjid, travelled to the site of the shooting to lay flowers and build up faith relations.

Explaining why the group had travelled over now, Mr Asim said: “It’s not only the anniversary of the terrible Paris attacks, and a time of which we should all be paying tribute to the victims, but also a time of remembrance for the First World War.

“During our trip we shared ideas with faith leaders on how we can become more resilient against terrorism.

“It was really poignant that it is 100 years since the First World War and people of all faiths and none were united in their causes against Fascism and Nazism. Today, 100 years on, we again need to remain united in the face of terrorism which is the madness of our time.”

Amongst the other sites visited for the group was the home of Father Jacques Hamel – a priest who was brutally murdered on 26th July 2016 in a Normandy Church Attack by Daesh.

In the aftermath of his death, the local catholic community, the sisters at the church and the Revd who has replaced Revd Hamel, remained determined not to let the shocking attack create division between communities.

Mr Asim added: “It was a really grief-stricken experience when we were there,” he said.

“Some of the emotions we had were pain, grief, horror, and that effectively a person of faith, who was a gentle, kind person, spreading the message of peace and love was brutally murdered by these terrorists. It was amazing to see that this community has worked so hard to stay together.

“People can very easily be capitalised upon a situation when tensions are high. Building walls of hatred is not the solution. It was remarkable that they didn’t let that happen and it also shows how important it is to ensure peace and solidarity work continues.”

Joining Mr Asim on the trip was Suffah Foundation Chairman, Shaykh Umar Hayat Qadri, Shaykh Yazdani Misbahi of London Fatwa Council, and Brother Dawood Masood of Al-Hira Centre, Luton.

The visit was arranged as part of the inter-faith delegation organised by London Faiths Forum.

Girl power: Muslim and Jewish communities unite in Leeds

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INTERFAITH DIALOGUE: Co-chairs of the Leeds branch of Nisa Nashim, Salma Arif and Hilary Curwen

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE: Co-chairs of the Leeds branch of Nisa Nashim, Salma Arif and Hilary Curwen

A revolutionary new group in Leeds, which brings women from Muslim and Jewish communities together to celebrate their similarities, has been hailed a success by the organisers.

The city’s branch of the Nisa-Nashim – which means women in Arabic and Hebrew – was officially launched at the Shine Centre in Harehills earlier this month.

With hundreds of members across the UK, the group aims to form meaningful and personal relationships between different faith groups, while benefiting the wider society in which they live.

At the Leeds launch, around 80 women were in attendance to engage with community members and listen to speeches from founders of the original Nisa-Nashim project in London, Julie Siddiqui and Laura Marks.

Laura said: “The need to bring the Jewish and Muslim communities together has never been greater.

“What is so wonderful about Nisa-Nashim is that the women simply love getting to know each other, building trust and solid friendships so that politics, suspicion and bad feelings simply curl up and leave the room.

“The Leeds event reinforced our belief that this approach can really work and challenged the traditional ways in which both communities have operated in the past.”

In the near future, the ladies will be organising a number of social events to further pursue relationships between the different faith groups.

These will include friendship walks, picnics and halal-kosher food evenings.

The inaugural event was hosted by regional co-chairs Hilary Curwen and councillor for Harehills and Gipton, Salma Arif.

Cllr Arif said she was ‘thrilled’ at the turnout for the launch, saying that there was an: “Amazing atmosphere and a real appetite for dialogue within the Muslim and Jewish communities.”

She added: “My key goal is to get to know the Jewish community better, build bridges in society and help attend to this appetite for dialogue we have seen since our launch.”

With the result of the EU referendum uprooting bad sentiments across the nation, the Nisa-Nashim project also aims to re-united the UK’s residents.

Upon why she established the group, Hilary said: “Although I belonged to an interfaith group, there was nothing specifically for Muslim and Jewish women and it felt like an elephant in the room that we weren’t supposed to get on.

“I wanted to do something to detoxify the climate –the paranoia and the fear. There was a disparity between what I was seeing in my life and what I was reading in the newspapers.

“The response we have had since our first meeting has been terrific.”

The group are planning on hosting their first event – a picnic in the park – on Sunday 31st July. If you would like to know more about the project please visit www.nisanashim.org

£70,000 pledged at charity dinner: Give a Gift on target for six-figure fundraising goal

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WELL ATTENDED: Over 250 guests gathered for the dinner, pledging £70,000 in donations through charity challenges

WELL ATTENDED: Over 250 guests gathered for the dinner, pledging £70,000 in donations through charity challenges

A charitable initiative, set up in Leeds three years ago to bring  Muslim communities together in aid of local charities , is preparing to hit its latest milestone in fundraising this year.

At the fourth annual Give a Gift dinner last weekend, over 250 guests piled into Aagrah Midpoint for a night of entertainment and charity pledges.

Organised to get guests involved with the charity challenges, those in attendance signed up for a range of activities, from climbing Ben Nevis and Mount Snowdon, to skydiving and coast-to-coast bike rides.

DISCUSSION: A number of speeches were given on the day including one by nine-year-old Margoux Barker

DISCUSSION: A number of speeches were given on the day including one by nine-year-old Margoux Barker

Even Asian Express founders, Nadim and Andleeb Hanif, have pledged to raise funds as they head thousands of feet into the sky before jumping out of planes with nothing but an instructor and parachute on their backs.

Give a Gift Ambassador, Rifhat Malik, was delighted with the number of pledges made at this year’s dinner, and is confident of surpassing all previous records.

“Every year we host the family dinner to get people involved with Give a Gift,” she said. “Last weekend we received around £70,000 in pledges alone, which will all go towards helping two great causes.”

She added: “We had fantastic entertainment on the night from the Leeds Bhangra Society Dancers and Haleema Khan - a young steel pan star.

“There were also speeches from parents whose children have been cared for by the two charities, and that really inspired a lot of us to get behind the pledges and volunteer ourselves.”

The Give a Gift initiative raises money for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and Martin House Children’s Hospice.

A number of events have been held in recent years with the initiative culminating in the flagship Ramadan Toy Appeal.

Sharon Cheng, chief executive of Leeds Children's Heart Surgery Fund spoke of the importance of initiative such as Give a Gift.

She said: “CHSF are thrilled to be working with the Give a Gift Initiative for a fourth year.

“The relationship we have with the team is fantastic, they are very inspiring. The donations we have received so far from this community group have been extremely useful in terms of supporting the work we do.

“Thanks to all involved, we are extremely grateful and we look forward to the fundraising year and wish them every success.”

COMING TOGETHER: Give a Gift Family Dinner host, Ruby Malik, and ambassador, Bhranti Naik, are all smiles at the event

COMING TOGETHER: Give a Gift Family Dinner host, Ruby Malik, and ambassador, Bhranti Naik, are all smiles at the event

Martin House Community Fundraiser, Sarah Tarpey, added: “At Martin House we care for some of the most vulnerable children and families in Yorkshire, needing help and support at the most difficult of times. Already our families have benefitted from the generosity of Give A Gift, receiving donations in excess of £35,000 as well as huge numbers of toys and gifts; for which we are incredibly grateful.

“With most of our funding coming from voluntary donations, without the generosity of people like Give A Gift, quite simply, Martin House would simply cease to exist. We are proud of our association with Give A Gift and look forward to working with them again in the months ahead”

Having already raised £70,000 for the two causes in 2016, the money raised through the activities planned later this year will help the group surpass the £100,000 mark for the first time in their history.

If you would like to get involved with one of the Give a Gift fundraisers, please contact Rifhat Malik on 07711 623386.

Muslim-run centre aims to engage with all communities despite initial protests

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OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Mohammed Arif, chairman of UKIM Leeds, stands outside the new Lingfield Centre in Moortown

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Mohammed Arif, chairman of UKIM Leeds, stands outside the new Lingfield Centre in Moortown

Old pub to community hub

A new community centre, which took over six years to develop in the heart of Moortown, opened its doors for the first time last week with the aim of uniting the area’s diverse community.

The Lingfield Centre, on Lingfield Drive, has been established by the charity, UK Islamic Mission (UKIM), and aims to provide a space for people of all faiths and backgrounds to utilise.

At a cost of just under £600,000 to renovate, the former pub is now an asset to the area, with a prayer hall accompanied by a large community hall, kitchen, and soon-to-be gym, library and IT suite.

Despite far right protests against the site’s opening three years ago, chairman of UKIM Leeds, Mohammed Arif, says he is certain the centre will be warmly received.

“This site has admittedly been a long time coming,” he said. “It has been six years in the making and the launch event went really well with around 700 people turning out.

“I think opposition to the centre initially - certainly the more vocal opposition - came from a very small minority, fuelled by external factors. Today I don’t see working here as a challenge.”

Mr Arif added that it was ‘reassuring’ to see members of Muslim and non-Muslim communities turn out for the open day.

Plans are already in place to host a number of events at the centre in the near future to further strengthen interfaith relationships.

“The plan is to hold a number of events over the summer months,” he said, “with World Food Day and a barbeque afternoon already being discussed.

“The whole purpose of the centre is to get different communities to get to know each other, and stay true to our vision which is to engage with communities of different faiths and backgrounds.”

Although the site has opened without incident to date, a Facebook group - ‘Moortown and Leeds against the Islamic Centre’ – is still running with 735 members.

 

Yorkshire: Community leaders unite to discuss British values

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SEMINAR: Panellists at the safeguarding seminar discussed the Prevent agenda, British values and dual heritage

SEMINAR: Panellists at the safeguarding seminar discussed the Prevent agenda, British values and dual heritage

Removing radicalisation from Yorkshire

Communities must continue to show a united front against forces on ‘both sides of the fence who attempt to plant seeds of division’, Makkah Masjid Imam, Qari Asim, said last weekend.

Speaking during a safeguarding seminar at Carlton Junior School in Dewsbury, the Leeds based Imam praised local community resolve as attempts to tackle extremism and radicalisation continues across the UK.

“We’ve had people from this part of the country, not only going off to Syria and Iraq but also having to tolerate members of the far right coming and marching on their streets,” he said.

“In order to deal with these challenges of extremism, we need to have an intelligent and robust strategy which will involve both parents and children, and teachers and community leaders.”

“These communities have lived together in this region for many years and we should not let anything destabilise the relationships that exist between these communities.”

Mr Asim was just one of the panellists at the seminar, organised to discuss the Prevent agenda, British values and dual heritage.

He was joined by West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff, Bradford West MP Naz Shah, Carlton Junior head teacher, Rizwana Mahmood, and Cabinet member for schools and learning in Kirklees, Cllr Shabir Pandor.

The hour-and-a-half event gave each panellist the chance to speak about the aforementioned issues before a question and answer session for those in attendance.

Deemed a success by the organisers, Mr Asim also praised the event for its proactive message.

COMMUNITY LEADER: Imam Qari Asim, of the Makkah Masjid, urged communities to remain united in the fight against radicalisation

COMMUNITY LEADER: Imam Qari Asim, of the Makkah Masjid, urged communities to remain united in the fight against radicalisation

“These kind of events showcase that the Muslim community is taking ownership of the challenges faced by us all,” he added.

“It is only by sticking together that we can defeat any racist, offensive, extremist ideas.”

Last year, a teenager from Dewsbury became the UK’s youngest suicide bomber after he blew himself up during a Daesh attack in Iraq.

Reports of people travelling to join extremists in the war-torn nations have also been seen in Bradford.

Ms Shah, who represents Bradford West, said the seminar allowed community leaders to discuss the most effective safeguarding techniques, for both children and the wider community.

Meanwhile, Ms Sherriff added: “Everybody has a part to play in terms of preventing radicalisation.”

As well as a lively discussion, presentations were also made on the day by Kirklees Council’s Prevent team, Westborough High School and representatives from anti-extremist group, Engage.

Sharing is caring: Qurbani distribution unites Bradford’s communities

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intouc qurbani team (800x507)

Two Bradford charities came together in a bid to ensure Muslims across the city had an Eid to remember last month as they distributed Qurbani meat to hundreds of individuals and families.

The InTouch Foundation and IslamBradford united for the project, which saw over 800kg of meat provided to the local community.

Having held a smaller project last year, the InTouch volunteers, who run mobile soup kitchens across West Yorkshire, decided to expand operations last month with IslamBradford’s city centre base chosen to host the operations.

Aiming to serve as many diverse communities as possible, representatives from the city’s South Asian and East African communities turned out to receive over 800 packs of meat.

Osman Gondal, founder and board member of the InTouch Foundation, was on hand to distribute the meat on Sunday 27th September and said he could not have hoped for a better day.

“The event itself went really well,” he said. “We handed out 864 packs of meat to families and individuals meaning almost a tonne of meat was distributed.

“People from different backgrounds, including the local Syrian, Sudan, and Nigerian communities came down on the day and we were able to ensure they all had Qurbani to celebrate Eid.

COMMUNITY: Volunteers from the InTouch Foundation and IslamBradford handed over Qurbani packs to individuals and families from Nigeria

COMMUNITY: Volunteers from the InTouch Foundation and IslamBradford handed over Qurbani packs to individuals and families from Nigeria

“A huge thank you to all our volunteers, those who donated, and IslamBradford for helping to make this project possible.”

As well as handing over the bags of Qurbani, the two charities aimed to build cohesion between different cultures on the day.

Providing coffee and cake to those who came down, discussions about the charities’ works were also held with guests.

Osman added: “IslamBradford were generous enough to offer free refreshments at the site, to create more of a community atmosphere.

“We didn’t want people to think they were just to receive meat and leave, so by doing this we generated a more welcoming feel.

“The location of IslamBradford as well proved a big hit with visitors and we will be sure to build on this success for next year.”

Faisal Tariq, the UK InTouch Fundraising Manager, was also present to help distribute the meat.

He said: “It was amazing to share our Qurbani with our brothers and sisters from thousands of miles away. The smiles on their faces were priceless.”