PRESS RELEASE: London Muslims come together in good faith – Launch of ‘London Muslim Coalition’

PRESS RELEASE: London Muslims come together in good faith – Launch of ‘London Muslim Coalition’


London Muslim Coalition

28 March 2003

PRESS RELEASE: London Muslim’s come together in good faith – Launch of ‘London Muslim Coalition’

Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, will be attending the launch of ‘London Muslim Coalition’ (LMC), a coalition of local and national organisations, heralded as the most representative body of Muslims in London. With almost 50% of Britain’s estimated 1.5 to 2 million Muslims resident in the capital, London can proudly claim to be the Muslim capital of Europe.

Date: Tuesday 1 April
Time: 11:30 am
Venue: Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1

The LMC aims not just to be a purely representative body of the most diverse Muslim community in Britain, but a pro-active forum which can articulate and communicate the needs and aspirations of Muslim Londoners, hopefully making an invaluable contribution to London’s cherished multi-cultural fabric.

The Chairman of LMC, Kumar Murshid, said:

“With almost 1 in 10 Londoners professing to be Muslim, this substantial group have been effectively excluded from participating in London’s political and social life. If we survey London’s political landscape it is disheartening to see not one London Muslim MP or London Assembly member. LMC wishes to challenge this glaring disparity and all barriers that impede greater Muslim participation in London life.”

Ken Livingstone, elected mayor of London, said:

“For far too long Muslims have not been properly represented in local and central Government, have suffered unacceptably high levels of deprivation and unemployment and have their needs misunderstood or overlooked by public service employers. This is why I welcome the launch of the London Muslim Coalition and will be working with a range of Muslim organisations to ensure that the Greater London Authority fully meets the needs and aspirations of London’s Muslim communities.”

Note to the Editors: background information (see following pages)

Right after 9/11 the Muslim community came together to form LMC. 1st April marks its official launch.

For further information please contact press officer, Massoud Shadjareh on 07958 522 196.

Note to Editors:

1. London: Europe’s Muslim Capital
2. LMC Founder Members

1. London: Europe’s Muslim Capital

It is now official: London is the Muslim capital of Europe. One out of every eleven Londoners is a believer. And with more than 50 Muslim nationalities living in the capital, only Makkah and Madinah can claim to be more diverse. But while this is reflected in daily life and in the streets Muslim representation and access to resources is negligible.

Considering the large numbers of Muslims in London the under-representation of the community in the corridors of powers is, to say the least, surprising. None of the 65 MPs is a Muslim. None of the 25 members of the Greater London Authority is a Muslim.

According to figures released in February 2003 by the Office of National Statistics Muslims are the largest minority faith community nationally: 2.7 percent (or over 1.5m people) of the total population in Britain are Muslims. However, in London, this rises to 8.46 percent (or over 700,000 people) of the capital’s population – nearly half of the total British Muslim population.

Technically this means that one person out of every eleven in London is a Muslim. In comparison Hindus consist of 4.07 percent, Hindus 2.09 percent and Sikhs are 1.45 percent.

Yet the profile of all the other communities in the affairs of the city are much more higher and pronounced then the Muslims.

London’s Muslim community is widespread across the capital. Every single borough has a Muslim presence. The top five are Tower Hamlets (36.4%) Newham (24.3%), Waltham Forest (15.1%), Hackney (13.8%) and Brent (12.3%). The uniqueness of the community is further enhanced by the fact that it is multi-racial and multi-cultural. Members of the Muslim community in London come from all the four corners of the world and speak in nearly a hundred tongues: Moroccans in Ladbroke Grove, West Africans in Peckham, Somalis in the north, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in the East, Bosnians, Kosovans, Afghanis and Iraqis in the West. Everywhere you go in the capital one is challenged by the community’s diversity and genuine plurality.

Yet this richness has hardly been recognised or appreciated by the authorities. While Muslims participate in events such as the Notting Hill Carnival, St Patrick’s Day and huge Diwali celebrations there is, for instance, a conspicuous absence of any major event to acknowledge and celebrate their culture and heritage.

To a large extent the problem has been the reluctance particularly by the race industry to accept and respect the Muslim identity. The Race Relations Act of 1976 effectively made the Muslim community invisible by refusing to accept any other identity for the visible minority except those based on colour and race. So Muslims, a complex multi-racial community, was ruthlessly pressurised to either be ‘black’ or ‘Asians’. But as events from the Anglo-Rushdie affair, the first Gulf War and then Bosnia showed, for the vast majority of Muslims it was their faith which was the determining factor in their identity – not the colour of their skin or politics.

The effect has been to make the Muslim communities invisible and ensure that they did not benefit from any initiatives aimed at addressing discrimination. As a result Muslims have benefited the least from any efforts to regenerate communities and have therefore emerged as society’s new underclass.

As if discriminatory policies adopted by the secular race industry and the racism from mainstream society was not enough Muslims have also had to deal with the evil of Islamophobia. This particularly evil form of discrimination, first officially acknowledged by a Runnymede Report in 1997, has caused havoc and devastation to the Muslim community.

The self-esteem and confidence of members of the community, particularly the youth, is under constant attack through negative coverage in the media, jibes in school, attacks in the streets and discrimination at the workplace. The situation is made even more worse by the insensitive and often discriminatory services provided by local and central authorities.

Contrary to popular opinion widespread among service providers and race activist the Muslim community is not a ‘problem’: actually the community has to be praised for its success in surviving and even prospering despite all the odds. Today London can boast of nearly 300 mosques, over 500 madrassahs and numerous other community amenities that have been entirely set up and are run by the community with no help or assistance from any outside agencies.

There are now signs that there is recognition of the failure of race-based service provision. But the revolution to cater for such a complex and deprived community need to be bold, imaginative and relevant. Any half-baked tokenistic effort is likely to lead to negative effects and plunge community relations into even more chaos.

The most important thing for service providers and policy makers is to liberate them from outdated notions of understanding society in term of racial categorisation. A willingness to treat Muslims as a discrete heterogeneous group is essential for any initiative to be equitable and achieve the desired results.

Muslim demands for essential resources needed to revitalise their communities need to be taken seriously in any genuine initiative aimed at community cohesion. Otherwise we will reap the backlash from a community that is dangerously fragile, unnecessarily marginalised and helplessly under-resourced.

For further information please contact press officer, Massoud Shadjareh on 07958 522 196


Amal Trust, Hashim Charif
An-Nisa Society, Humera Khan
Black Londoners Forum, Ruhul Tarafder
Fair, Musab Bora
Indian Muslim Federation, Irfan Mustafa
Islamic Human Rights Commission, Massoud Shadjareh
Islamic Society of Britain, Dr Zahoor Qurashi
London Civic Forum, Ajmal Masroor
The Muslim Council of Britian, Dr Raheem Khan, Tanzimm Wasti
The Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, Ali Omar Ermes
Muslim Directory, Naeem Darr
The Muslim News, Ahmed Versi
Muslim Parliament, Dr Siddiqui
Muslim Welfare House, Fadi Itani
NAAR, Shahed Yunus
Q News, Fuad Nahdi
Young Muslim Organisation UK, Junaid Ahmed, Abul Kalam
Young Muslims UK, Imran Saithna
Youth Action Scheme, Nasir Uddin

For further information please contact press officer, Massoud Shadjareh on 07958 522 196

IHRC is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
United Kingdom

Telephone: (+44) 20 8904 4222
Twitter: @ihrc

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