News

Wales re-entered lockdown on Sunday 20th December 2020, this was an Alert Level Four lockdown, a new system in operation in Wales.

As of 15th February 2021, Wales continues in lockdown. Both the UK Government (Prime Minister Boris Johnson) and the Welsh Government (First Minister Mark Drakeford) have discussed the possibilities of changes in coming weeks or months. This is due to the falling number of cases in Wales and the United Kingdom as well as the roll-out of the vaccine. It is important to note however that nothing has yet been announced or confirmed, and as such, you should continue to follow the following rules:

  • People will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with. However, single person households are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household.
  • Non-essential shops will close, including gyms beauty-salons and hairdressers. Restaurants will only be open for takeaway.
  • Mosques can remain open for ritual obligation worship only whilst maintaining social distancing regulations and must have carried out risk assessments.
  • Worshipers must not congregate outside the masjid before and after the prayer.
  • Nikkah and Janazah can take place, but within the safe limits of the mosque, and only the specific ceremony.
  • All children organised activities are not to take place, thus the madrasah or maktab cannot continue in the mosque. Many mosques will go back to providing this service online.
  • Travel is only for essential purposes.

The Muslim Council of Wales will contact mosques, Islamic organisations, and other members should there be any changes announced and release information on what this means or mosques and religious activities.

In the meantime, we pray your continued safety.

Remember the three key things to help limit the spread of coronavirus, hands, face, space.

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The Muslim Council of Wales were greatly saddened to hear of the passing of Hajji Ghazanfar Ali. He died on 4th January from COVID-19. He was a well-known and much beloved business leader in Wales, running Eastern Cuisine, which catered for weddings, community events, and indeed many of the Muslim Council of Wales interfaith dinners.

He was born in Lahore, Pakistan, but moved to Britain in 1970. His time in the United Kingdom took him across the country, from Bristol, Slough, Scotland, Bridgend, and eventually settling in Cardiff. He was a devoted Muslim, and known for his generosity. He would often cater to charities either for free or at a discounted rate, many have shared stories of him cancelling the invoices of family events he catered if he discovered they were struggling to pay. He was a devout Muslim and regular mosque-goer, acting as the ameer of Abu Bakr Mosque in Grangetown.

The Muslim Council of Wales were pleased to have honoured his lifelong dedication and contribution with an award presented by the First Minister Make Drakeford in 2019.

No one would ever go hungry at an event catered by “Uncle Ali”, as he was affectionately known by many. Our prayers are with his family, and we ask Allah to grant him the highest station in paradise.

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Following the Welsh Government Announcement on Saturday, starting from Sunday 20th December Wales will re-enter a lockdown.

This alert level four lockdown will mean the following changes:
– People will not be allowed to mix with anyone they do not live with. However, single person households are allowed to form a support bubble with one other household.
– Non-essential shops will close, including gyms beauty-salons and hairdressers.
– Restaurants will only be open for takeaway.
– Mosques can remain open for ritual obligation worship only whilst maintaining social distancing regulations and must have carried out risk assessments.
– Worshipers must not congregate outside the masjid before and after the prayer.
– Nikkah and Janazah can take place, but within the safe limits of the mosque, and only the specific ceremony.
– All children organised activities are not to take place, thus the madrasah or maktab cannot continue in the mosque. Many mosques will go back to providing this service online

– Travel is only for essential purposes

Places of worship have been allowed to remain open as they have consistently been run safely and with strict measures, we must keep this up however to ensure everyone’s safety. Worshippers attending mosques, please only do so if you are certain it is safe, don’t risk harming another person. Stay at home if have any symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has an undertake a COVID-19 test.

Stay at home, continue to wash your hands, wear your masks and maintain social distancing.

 

On Monday the 9th of November Wales’ Firebreak will end and Welsh Mosques will open their doors to daily prayers and Jummah prayers again.

We’ve produced a handy infographic to help you keep your congregation safe!

We want to emphasise that even though the Firebreak period has ended, we are still in the midst of a pandemic and urge everyone to stay safe by regularly washing hands, keeping 2m distance and wearing face masks in public areas. 

We’ve attached a small infographic highlighting the key changes and messages from the Welsh Government.

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These next two weeks are going to be a difficult one for us living in Wales with the new lockdown measures coming into place from tomorrow (Friday 23/10/2020). 

We must do our bit to in the battle to stem the spread of the coronavirus by staying at home. 

We’d like to thank the Welsh Government and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) for supporting the work Muslim Council of Wales does. 

We’ve been able to produce some fantastic infographics in English, Welsh, Bangla, Arabic, Urdu & Somali. 

 

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We have been just been briefed by Welsh government regarding the proposed “Circuit Breaker” Lockdown Measures.

The details of the new lockdown measure a:
– Dates: Friday 23/10/2020 6pm – Sunday 08/11/2020
– Jummu’ah prayer will be allowed to take place on 23/10/2020
– Mosques to suspend the 5 daily prayers including educational activities
– Remote learning can be utilised
– There is no change to the rules surrounding Janzah and Nikkah ceremonies
– Essential public services can take place at a place of worship such as food kitchens, food banks, childcare provision etc

The Muslim Council of Wales have produced this infographic for our Mosques to benefit from the key messages. 

 

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In April 2018, several Jewish representatives, including the Board of Deputies and the South Wales Jewish Representatives Council, requested an informal meeting with Saleem Kidwai OBE (Former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales). At the meeting, the attendees raised several historical Facebook and Twitter posts made by Sahar al-Faifi, our then Assistant Secretary General, which they considered anti-Semitic. We indicated that this discussion would be best conducted with Sahar present, as we were confident Sahar was not anti-Semitic, and had positively engaged with many Jewish organisations and synagogues throughout working within the Muslim Council of Wales.

We next met, with Sahar, on the 12th February 2019. The meeting included Eddie Cawston (Cardiff Reform Synagogue), Sheila Gelwob (Board of Deputies), Anthony Silkoff (Board of Deputies), Rabbi Michel Rose (Cardiff Shul), and Mark Stone (then Cardiff Reform Synagogue).

At the meeting, Sahar made an unreserved apology for an anti-Semitic post made in the past and deleted. The attendees accepted the apology and thanked Sahar. Subsequent discussion focused on articles and extended Facebook posts made, and as to whether they were anti-Semitic. For example, this included items such as a comment piece Sahar wrote criticising Sajid Javid for not visiting a mosque, yet making visits to a synagogue. In general, the attendees all accepted Sahar’s intended meaning was not anti-Semitic, but there was disagreement as to whether the wording used conveyed that. The meeting concluded positively with several action points, including anti-Semitism training (as a whole, but including Sahar) and the Jewish representative to attend Islamophobia training to which they have not done yet.

Through the meetings, Sahar al-Faifi was open, willing to engage with Jewish representatives, keen to seek a positive resolution.

Her commitment to social justice is exemplary, and throughout her tenure in the Muslim Council of Wales, she campaigned and worked for equality and justice for all in society – without exception or discrimination.
Sahar’s public profile and visibility as a Muslim women active in politics and campaigning has made her a target for abuse, online and in-person. Her case also highlights the vulnerable position of Muslims in public life, who face much greater scrutiny than others.

We believe it is important for Muslims of all backgrounds to engage in political life, and become active members of political parties. One of the aims of MCW is to promote active citizenship and engage Welsh Muslims with all parties across the spectrum.

Muslim Council of Wales

Following recent revelations of Islamophobic behaviour from members of the Conservative Party, the Muslim Council of Wales has contacted the Chairman of the Conservatives, Rt Hon Brandon Lewis, to express our concerns about Islamophobia in the party and are calling on him to conduct an independent inquiry into the issues. Our full letter to the Chairman can be seen below:

The Muslim Council of Wales takes seriously the dangers of anti-Semitism, and commits itself to addressing, challenging and combating anti-Semitism in society.

As part of our work building relationships, we are proud to have been the first Muslim organisation to host the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Ephraim Mirvis. In addition, we have held collaborative interfaith events, such as a talk by a Holocaust survivor (Ruth Barnett) in a mosque, exhibitions on Jewish and Muslim solidarity, and we regularly meet with representatives of the Jewish faith.

Many proponents of anti-Semitism envision a society in which the religious and ethnic identities of minorities are eradicated, and so there is often a strong overlap with Islamophobia. This operates in reverse too; those who engage in Islamophobia can easily turn their rhetoric, hatred, and violence, towards Jewish communities. Given this, it is incredibly important Muslims and Jews cooperate in tackling both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

We utilise the following definition of anti-Semitism, and will implement it to ensure it is institutionally understood. It is taken from the European Union’s Campaign Against Antisemitism.

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

For comparison, we operate with the following definition of Islamophobia from the University of Berkeley.

“Islamophobia is a contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a perceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool to achieve “civilizational rehab” of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise). Islamophobia reintroduces and reaffirms a global racial structure through which resource distribution disparities are maintained and extended.”

We note that while there are many similarities between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, there are also significant areas of difference.

Jewish history in Europe, for example, has included significant acts of violence, most notably the Holocaust, but also other acts of discrimination, exclusion, and persecution. This has been embedded within European cultural memory, European institutions, language, and cultural idioms.

Another point of difference between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism is that European relationships with Muslims have been largely predicated on empire and imperialism, and this has a lasting impact on contemporary relationships. This large-scale global exploitation, violence, and oppression not only affects relationships between Muslim citizens in European countries, but also the relationships between states in the West and Muslim-majority countries.

Nonetheless, the mobilisation of ideas, rhetoric, and violence against Muslim and Jewish minorities are comparable, especially around issues of integration (or lack thereof), of divided loyalties, and of religious traditions accused of being “incompatible” with Britain/the West/modernity. Another similarity is the paradox of power. Jews and Muslims are often spoke about as infiltrating society or controlling its politics while simultaneously accused of being “culturally backward” and degenerate.

An area of tension for some Muslims and Jews is how criticism of the state of Israel can be perceived as anti-Semitic. For many reasons, Jerusalem, the occupied territories, and the state of Israel, are a complex and emotive topic for Muslims and Jews.

The Muslim Council of Wales recognises that at times Israel is used as a “stand in” for Jews, and age-old anti-Semitic tropes are used and mobilised in criticising Israel. We recognise this is painful and dangerous. The Leader of the SNP in Westminster, Angus Robertson MP, argued that in pursuing support for “the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” some individuals start using “language and imagery” that draws “repeated accusations from the 20th and 19th centuries about Jewish ownership of the press or the financial system and so on”.

We believe it is possible to criticise Israel and fight for the rights and freedoms of Palestinian people without being anti-Semitic, and as such, will maintain a zero-tolerance policy against any anti-Semitism used when campaigning for Palestinian rights and critiquing the Israeli state.

There will, we believe, be areas in which the answers are not entirely clear, where there may be disagreement as to whether something is legitimate criticism of Israel or anti-Semitic, and as such, we wish to work with our Jewish colleagues and partners to resolve these issues as and when they arise, with a spirit of cooperation and commitment to each other’s rights, and a sacred recognition of each other’s humanity.

Prof. Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, and her team have developed a fantastic resource for schools entitled “Tackling Islamophobia: A Children’s Rights Resource for Secondary Schools in Wales.”

Last year, the advice charity ChildLine reported a sharp rise in calls to their hotline reporting Islamophobic bullying , with children as young as 9 years old being targeted, and some turning to self-harm as a result.

The Muslim Council of Wales were very happy to help with the development of this timely and urgently needed resource, by recruiting young people from the Cardiff Muslim community to a listening session with the Commissioner’s team last summer. We are immensely proud of the wisdom shown and insights provided by these young people into the struggles they face every day as Muslims living in Wales.  

Islamophobia is on the increase.  No child should be the target of hate for any reason, however, there are many ways that everyone, Muslim and otherwise, can work together to end these problems in our society.   

For more information, please visit the Commissioner’s website , download the resource to give to your child’s school, and share the videos below on your social media platforms.