There is a ‘Big Issue’ piece in this week’s Citizen, relating to Barton & Tredworth, entitled There is no such thing as Islamic terrorism.

In the article, members of a local mosque offer to dispell ‘misconceptions’ about Islam in a single day session or over a few days, and the piece cites several ‘sterotypes’.

The main theme of the piece, as exemplified by the title, though, seems to me like a straw man. Saajid Badat notwithstanding, in the twenty plus years I have lived in Barton, violent Islamic extremism has not been the problem, but rather a creeping assimilation of property and resources, what some would call ‘Islamification’, of the ward, coupled with poor or non-existent interaction with the ‘indigenous’ community. Local people are a lot more bothered, for example, with the traffic disruption caused by the ‘Islamic school’ on Stratton Road, when they were assured a decade ago that the building would be a community centre for everyone, and not a place where parents would clog up the road with their cars, not just in the morning and afternoon, but evenings and weekends as well.

The Working Man’s club on Barton Street is now the Friendship Café, dedicated to the benefit of (Sunni) Muslims. At least three properties on Charles Street have been bought up so that an Islamic centre, with parking, can be built at the back. The Barton & Tredworth Community Trust runs a madressah. It’s trying to sell the premises, due to financial mismanagement, but there’s little danger that a new venue won’t be found for the madressah if the new owners don’t want to share the building.

If the volunteers really want to reassure the community, they might wish to give their assurances that the BBC report about abuse in Islamic schools has no bearing on Gloucester. Islamic terrorism really is as much of a ‘Big Issue’ here as ‘bonkers boundaries’.

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