Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

On a Visit to Brixton Mosque, I Found Frenzy, Fist Fights and Zeal without Knowledge

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

On a Visit to Brixton Mosque, I Found Frenzy, Fist Fights and Zeal without Knowledge

Article excerpt

I want to write what I know of our local home-grown suicide bombers, but first let me declare an interest. Mrs Howe's maiden name was Leila Ramadhan Hassan. She grew up in East Africa a devout practitioner of Islam. John Howe and Ashley Howe are my brothers. They live in Trinidad and are converts to the Muslim faith. My last son, Amiri, was conceived in Trinidad 20 years ago and has been a Muslim from the age of two. His mother, Wardah, his sisters Keleke and Kanza and his brother, Masani, are practising Muslims. Wardah's husband, Hassan, is an Islamic scholar.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

A couple of years ago, I recorded, in these pages, that Hassan was shot through with bullets in a dispute within the Jamaat al-Muslimeen, an organisation comprising mainly converts who seized power in July 1990 in Trinidad, after conflict with the then government. The military leader of the insurrection was Bilal Abdullah, Wardah's brother and my son's uncle. Only days ago I returned from Trinidad, where I was engaged in a two-and-a-half-hour radio discussion with Bilal about the insurrection on its 15th anniversary.

Recently, I gave evidence in Hassan's and Wardah's application for asylum. It was granted because the judge said that he believed my testimony, and that my expertise on the issue was impeccable. Such knowledge had enabled me to convince Channel 4 to finance a documentary on the movement of black Brixton towards Islam. That was ten years ago.

It began with a few, but the Muslims were able to convince a mass of youths willing to break with the drift to unemployment and criminality. …

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