British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
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Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performs the adhan in Canary Wharf. (Supplied)
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Updated 25 May 2020

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf

British-Muslim entrepreneur ‘felt so privileged’ after performing call to prayer in London’s Canary Wharf
  • Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public
  • He has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin

LONDON: When Kazi Shafiqur Rahman performed a call to prayer in the heart of London’s financial district, he had little idea of the scale of reaction his performance would draw.
Within hours of delivering the adhan at sunset in Canary Wharf, the video had gone viral and Rahman was flooded with messages of goodwill from people of all faiths worldwide.
Rahman, 34, told Arab News that he thought nothing of performing the adhan, which he does in the style associated with the Grand Mosque in Makkah, when he was first asked.
But he said once he was in position outside the One Canada Square Skyscraper with sunset approaching, he started to feel the pressure.
“When I did the sound test, I could see passers-by and drivers stopping to have a look, and by the end of the test there were quite a few people watching me, waiting to see what was happening,” the British-Bangladeshi entrepreneur said. “This is when I started feeling nervous and could feel the pressure.”

Rahman is no stranger to performing the adhan in public, and has spent years perfecting the delivery of it in the style of the Grand Mosque’s head muezzin Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla.
Mulla has been a muezzin at the Grand Mosque since 1975 and his voice is recognized by Muslims worldwide regardless of whether they have visited the holy city.
His voice, which featured on cassette tape recordings of the Qur’an in the 1980s and 1990s, is broadcast on Arab TV channels, and more recently has been used by prayer apps.
Mulla has also been labeled the Bilal of the Grand Mosque, an honorific reference to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Bilal who was chosen by the prophet to be Islam’s first muezzin because of his beautiful voice.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Sheikh Ali Ahmad Mulla since I was a child,” Rahman said. “I have a talent for mimicking people, and as a child I’d accompany my father to Islamic talks and events.
“For the sunset prayer, my father would always put me forward to perform the adhan. He would even talk to the organizers and ask them to allow me to do the adhan.
“This put me under a lot of pressure to perfect the Makkah style adhan, and I’d listen to cassette recordings of it repeatedly every day.
“When I went to Makkah in 2008, I heard Sheikh Mulla perform the adhan live for the first time and I was blown away. It was then that I fine-tuned the version I’d learnt, and I perfected it when I came back.”
Rahman said there is much more room for improvement as Sheikh Mulla’s adhan is “absolutely amazing.”


The London-based entrepreneur was asked to perform the adhan in public in Canary Wharf as part of an event organized by Tower Hamlets London Borough Council, Tower Hamlets Homes and Canary Wharf Group.
“The organizers wanted to show appreciation to the Muslim community and engage with it. Many Asian Muslims live in this area, and this was a goodwill gesture to them during lockdown Ramadan,” Rahman said, adding that he agreed to the request without hesitation.
“The most important thing is that the comments were so positive. Even non-Muslims were commenting on how beautiful the adhan was. It’s amazing. I feel so privileged when I look back at the event.”
Wearing a Saudi thobe and ghutra added a finishing touch to Rahman’s performance. “I performed the adhan in the style of Makkah’s head muezzin, so the way I dressed completed the whole performance,” he said.
“People from all over the world have reached out to me saying how inspired they’ve been by me performing the adhan in Canary Wharf.
“My brother posted the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. It went viral and spread like wildfire. I didn’t imagine the event to become so big.
“Mohamed Hadid, the father of Gigi and Bella Hadid, also shared the video of me performing the adhan on Instagram.”
The event has motivated Rahman to learn how to perform in styles associated with different regions of the Muslim world.
“After performing the adhan in Canary Wharf, I’ve been inspired to practice performing the adhan in different styles, including the Madinah one,” he said.
“My dream is to be able to perform the adhan at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, even if it’s just a one-off.”

 


Terror charges laid against attack suspect in Canada

Terror charges laid against attack suspect in Canada
Updated 46 min 53 sec ago

Terror charges laid against attack suspect in Canada

Terror charges laid against attack suspect in Canada
  • Police allege the incident was a planned and premeditated attack targeting Muslims
  • Nathaniel Veltman also faces one count of attempted murder due to terrorism activity

LONDON/ONTARIO: Prosecutors laid terrorism charges Monday against a man accused of driving down and killing four members of a Muslim family in London, Ontario.
The prosecution said Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism and prosecutors have upgraded those charges under Canada’s criminal code.
Police allege the incident was a planned and premeditated attack targeting Muslims.
Veltman also faces one count of attempted murder due to terrorism activity.
The upgraded charges were laid as Veltman made a brief court appearance via video Monday morning. He has yet to enter a plea.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna and her 74-year-old grandmother, Talat Afzaal were killed while out for an evening walk on June 6.
The couple’s nine-year-old son, Fayez, was seriously injured but is expected to recover.


Philippines suspends decision to scrap troop pact with United States

Philippines suspends decision to scrap troop pact with United States
Updated 14 June 2021

Philippines suspends decision to scrap troop pact with United States

Philippines suspends decision to scrap troop pact with United States
  • Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin says suspension would be for a further six months

MANILA: The Philippines has suspended for the third time its decision to scrap a two-decade-old Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States, its foreign minister said on Monday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin said the suspension would be for a further six months while President Rodrigo Duterte “studies, and both sides further address his concerns regarding, particular aspects of the agreement.”
The Philippines is a treaty ally of the United States, and several military agreements are dependent on the VFA. Duterte last year notified Washington he was canceling the deal, which came amid outrage over a senator and ally being denied a US visa.


Manchester Arena owner, security firm face multimillion-pound lawsuits after bombing inquiry

Manchester Arena owner, security firm face multimillion-pound lawsuits after bombing inquiry
Updated 14 June 2021

Manchester Arena owner, security firm face multimillion-pound lawsuits after bombing inquiry

Manchester Arena owner, security firm face multimillion-pound lawsuits after bombing inquiry
  • SMG Europe, Showsec both criticized in terror attack report, set to be published Thursday
  • Greater Manchester Police, British Transport Police also set for severe criticism in report

LONDON: The owners of Manchester Arena are set to be hit with a series of multimillion-pound lawsuits by victims of the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert at the venue in 2017, with an inquiry report on the attack set to be released this week.

Twenty-two people, mainly young women and girls, were killed when Salman Abedi detonated a bomb in the arena’s foyer, injuring hundreds of others.

His brother Hashem was later jailed for a minimum of 55 years for his role in organizing the attack.

SMG Europe, the owner of the arena, is set to be heavily criticized in the report, due to be published on Thursday, along with the British Transport Police, Greater Manchester Police and Showsec, the company that provided security for the concert.

Showsec is also likely to face lawsuits from survivors and families of the victims for substantial damages.

Sources told the Daily Telegraph that the companies and police forces had all received letters detailing criticisms of them from Sir John Saunders, the inquiry’s chairman, ahead of publication to allow them to respond.

Letters have also been sent to two men — Kyle Lawler and Mohammed Agha — both of whom worked for Showsec at the arena on the night and were alerted to Abedi’s presence by members of the public. 

Another source said: “The actions will be levelled against SMG primarily because ultimately they were the ones legally responsible for protecting the audience.”

The lawsuits against SMG and Showsec could run to tens of millions of pounds, with many survivors of the attack experiencing physical injury as well as long-term mental health issues.

Showsec, the inquiry heard, employed a large and predominantly casual labor force who were poorly trained and on minimum wage.

The company said blame for not stopping the attack predominantly lay with the police and SMG, with whom there had been a “breakdown in communication” over checking the area of the venue, a mezzanine level and CCTV blindspot in which Abedi hid for almost an hour. Both SMG Europe and Showsec declined to comment.

Thursday’s report, focusing on security arrangements at the venue, is the first of three set to be released following the inquiry.

The second will examine the emergency response to the attack, and the third will assess whether it was preventable.

The UK Home Office, meanwhile, is considering proposals for a new law — named after one of the victims, Martyn Hett — to require large hospitality and public venues to put in place protection and protocols to prevent terrorist attacks in future.


Nearly 1,300 migrants arrive on Italian island

Nearly 1,300 migrants arrive on Italian island
Updated 14 June 2021

Nearly 1,300 migrants arrive on Italian island

Nearly 1,300 migrants arrive on Italian island
  • Good weather encouraging more crossings to Europe, says mayor of Lampedusa
  • More than 500 have died trying to reach Italy, Malta this year, according to UN

ROME: Nearly 1,300 migrants landed during the weekend on the Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. Most of them were rescued by Italian fishermen from the dinghies they used to make the trip from North Africa.

“The good summer weather is encouraging migrants to attempt the perilous trip to Lampedusa and Europe. One boat is landing here nearly every hour, and the situation is getting worse,” Salvatore Martello, the mayor of Lampedusa, told Arab News.

He said that the identification center on the island is overcrowded, with sanitary measures at risk of being compromised as a result.

“The situation may turn explosive there, so the Coast Guard is moving some of the center’s guests to one of the quarantine ships moored in the waters of Lampedusa,” Martello added.

Between Sunday night and Monday morning, 42 migrants, including four minors and 11 women, landed in Lampedusa.

A spokesman for the Coast Guard in Palermo told Arab News that 60 more people, who were rescued offshore by Italian fishermen, are now on their way to the Island.

Once they arrive, they will have to be dispatched elsewhere, probably to Calabria, as the local center for migrants is full.

“We spotted the boat in the sea while we were fishing. It was a very old one, and it was not stable at all. We decided to stop our work and reach them. You cannot leave people at sea, especially on board those rickety crafts they use to make the trip. A strong wave would be enough to capsize them,” Giovanni Curatolo, captain of the Italian sailing ship Ettore III, told Arab news. 

Another 410 migrants were rescued from seven different boats during the weekend in the Channel of Sicily by the Geo Barents vessel, operated by Médecins Sans Frontières.

The Geo Barents is the only NGO ship still operating off the Libyan coast. In recent days, four more ships — Sea Watch 3, Sea Watch 4, Open Arms and Sea Eye — were subject by the Italian Coast Guard to administrative detention related to bureaucratic issues.

The massive presence of children, most of them unaccompanied, worries the NGOs.

“Their parents entrust them to other migrants in the hope that they will be able to escape persecution and misery. This is the most dramatic aspect of this infinite emergency that has now become ordinary,” Cardinal Francesco Montenegro, archbishop of Agrigento, told Arab News.

On Sunday, Pope Francis said that the Mediterranean had become the “biggest cemetery in Europe,” as he remembered the migrants who died trying to reach the continent.

More than 500 people have died crossing the sea to Italy and Malta between January and mid-May this year, according to the UN’s International Organization for Migration.


Muslim support for UK’s Labour dips ahead of crucial election

Muslim support for UK’s Labour dips ahead of crucial election
Updated 14 June 2021

Muslim support for UK’s Labour dips ahead of crucial election

Muslim support for UK’s Labour dips ahead of crucial election
  • Poll: Support has fallen by a tenth under Keir Starmer’s leadership
  • His stance on Kashmir cited as one of the reasons for decline in popularity

LONDON: The UK’s main opposition Labour Party is losing support among British Muslims, a new poll has revealed, amid party fears that it will lose a crucial by-election in northern England next month.

The poll found that support from Muslims has fallen by a tenth under Keir Starmer’s leadership.

With the Batley & Spen by-election looming on the horizon, alarm bells are ringing for Labour strategists, with Starmer’s popularity dropping far behind that of his party among Muslim voters following his stances on Kashmir, Palestine, and a report on internal Islamophobia, The Times reported on Monday.

He was criticized heavily soon after taking the leadership in 2020 when he suggested that Jammu and Kashmir was a constitutional issue to be resolved by India and Pakistan. This was a reversal of Labour’s stance that the region had a right to self-determination.

Starmer is enduring a favorability rating of minus 7 percent among Muslim voters, compared to a 42 percent rating for the party.

His decline in popularity matches a fall in support from Muslims for Labour, which fell by 11 percent between 2019 and 2021. 

The findings of the poll, carried out among 504 voters by Survation for the Labour Muslim Network, will stoke fears among Labour activists that the party faces losing Batley & Spen, where the population is estimated to be 20 percent Muslim.

The party’s fears have been worsened by the presence on the Batley & Spen poll of former Labour MP George Galloway, who has been campaigning heavily in the constituency.