British Muslim Archives offer ‘hope,’ says London mayor

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at the event. (AN photo)
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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the event. (AN photo)
Updated 24 November 2017
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British Muslim Archives offer ‘hope,’ says London mayor

LONDON: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan inaugurated a new strong room at the East London Mosque on Thursday which will house Britain’s first Muslim archives.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds at the London Muslim Centre, Khan said: “At a time when there are people trying to divide us, our shared history can be a source of hope, because by looking back we can also look forward to a brighter future.”

The mayor, who was invited to unveil a plaque and officially open the new flood- and fire-proof strong room, quoted wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his speech.

He also reminded the audience that the study of archives has recently highlighted the valuable contribution that Muslims made to Britain and Europe’s freedom.

“We now know 2.5 million Muslims fought for us — the Allies — during World War I,” he said. “At a time when Islamophobia is on the rise, it is important to recall that Muslims were among those who sacrificed their lives for a free Europe.”

The East London Mosque is Britain’s largest, and one of the most influential in Europe. It was the first mosque in the UK to develop a professional archiving system, and it now holds 250,000 documents dating back to 1911.

The project was supported by The National Archives and has taken five years to complete. The collection has an online catalogue and is available for viewing by appointment in the mosque’s reading room.

The collection — which tells the story of the mosque and of East London’s early Muslim community — includes photos, minutes, newspaper cuttings and annual reports of functions and activities that have taken place at the mosque and the London Muslim Centre, as well as more personal documents, including marriage and conversion records.

There is also a collection of letters written by one of the mosque’s early supporters, the famous Qur’an translator, Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall.

“The archives are important because they allow the Muslim experience to be woven into the tapestry of British social history,” said Dr. Jamil Sherif, the chair of the East London Mosque Archives Project’s Steering Committee. “Without that narrative, Muslims are always going to be considered as the ‘other’ and their contribution will never be appreciated.”

As well as the mosque’s records, the archives contain documents of the Indigent Moslems Burial Fund, set up to aid early British Muslims who were unable to meet the cost of burying their dead.

Those who attended the launch included Abdul Maalik Tailor, founder of Muslim History Tours, which take visitors around London revealing the city’s hidden Muslim past.

Tailor believes more mosques need to be supported to follow the example set by the East London Mosque.

“There are people within other mosques across the country that have an interest in archiving the history of their institute, but they need support and funds to do this,” he said. “The history of mosques are the history of the Muslim community and we need to help them to preserve it.”
 


Assange sues Ecuadorian government over ‘fundamental rights’ breaches

Updated 6 min 19 sec ago
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Assange sues Ecuadorian government over ‘fundamental rights’ breaches

  • Wikileaks founder Assange has filed a lawsuit in Ecuador seeking better access to communications
  • Assange has lived in the Andean nation’s London embassy for six years

QUITO: Julian Assange is sueing the Ecuadorian government over breaches of his “fundamental rights.” 

Wikileaks founder Assange has filed a lawsuit in Ecuador seeking better access to communications as part of his asylum in the Andean nation’s London embassy, where he has lived for six years, his lawyer told a news conference on Friday.

The whistleblowing website said its general counsel arrived in Ecuador on Thursday to launch a legal case against the government for “violating (Assange’s) fundamental rights and freedom.”
“The move comes almost seven months after Ecuador threatened to remove his protection and summarily cut off his access to the outside world, including by refusing to allow journalists and human rights organizations to see him,” WikiLeaks said.
It added that the embassy was requiring Assange’s visitors — including journalists and lawyers — to disclose “private or political details such as their social media usernames.”
The Ecuador government issued no immediate statement in response.
Assange’s legal action comes with speculation mounting that Ecuador was preparing to end its standoff with the British government by terminating his six-year asylum.
Quito confirmed blocking Assange’s Internet and mobile phone access in March after accusing him of breaking “a written committment” not to interfere in Ecuador’s foreign policies.
Assange found refuge in the embassy in 2012 after a British judge ruled he should be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, and he feared being transferred to the US.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in March 2017 that arresting Assange for leaking sensitive US government files through his websites was a “priority.”