There are a couple of stories in the news this week.
In the London Borough of Redbridge on the Essex side of east London
The new Mayor of Redbridge will begin his first full day in office today after he was officially elected during the council’s annual meeting last night. Cllr Muhammed Javed, who has become the first Muslim borough mayor, donned his robes and chain at the meeting in the council chamber at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford.
Today in the London Borough of Ealing, in west London
ONE of the first Pakistanis to set up shop in Southall became Ealing’s first Muslim mayor this week.
Councillor Mohammad Aslam was hailed by colleagues across the political spectrum in a rare show of unity at Ealing Town Hall on Tuesday night.
In Leicester, Cathedral city in the Midlands well known for being so multicultural that it is tipped to be the first city (as opposed to borough or district within a borough) where the indigenous English will be a minority.
The city's first Muslim Lord Mayor was sworn in at a ceremony held at the Town Hall last night.
In a traditional inauguration, Councillor Abdul Osman was officially made Lord Mayor of Leicester at Leicester City Council's annual meeting, held in the Town Hall's chambers.
Coun Osman said: "It's an important year, with the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, so it's a privilege for me to hold office with everything that's going on. I want to focus on visiting the communities and raising the profile of the office of Lord Mayor. I'm proud to be the first Muslim councillor to hold the position – we've had Christian, Hindu, Sikh and now I'm able to bring the Islamic faith to the office which is a great honour."
Last year in Bradford.
Bradford council says the city has installed the first Muslim woman to become lord mayor in the UK. Naveeda Ikram, a Labour councillor for Little Horton since 2004, was officially installed at a ceremony in Bradford City Hall on Tuesday.
Muslim mayors are nothing new. Waltham Forest where I grew up has had several going back to the 1980s. About LB Tower Hamlets no need to say more. May is the month when many boroughs elect their Mayors from the ranks of long serving and respected councillors.
But have you noticed that these men and women, who have been chosen by their colleagues for important office, are openly described and identified by the BBC and local press as Muslim?
Not Asian. Muslim.
Happy to be Muslim when doing something prestigious. Contrast this with the Muslim men, who must number in the hundreds if I had the energy to count them all, 9 sentenced in Rochdale this month, another 30 odd from the Rochdale area pending, 9 in Telford a singleton in Carlisle and 6 in Leeds during the first five months of this year alone, convicted or awaiting trial from the sex abuse rape and trafficking of young girls who the media insists in describing as ‘Asian’.
Using the term Asian for people from what my geography teacher called the ‘Indian sub-continent’ may confuse by its exclusion of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and those from the Far east. Because I know the individuals who run my local convenience store I am aware that the formidable lady owner is a Hindu businesswoman from Bombay, that her counter hands are Sri Lankan one of whose cousins owns the rival shop round the corner, while the Post Office concession is managed by a Roman Catholic Anglo-Indian. To describe it as an ‘Asian corner shop’ is harmless and accurate.
But to describe vile criminals, with names like Mohamed and Islam, at least one of whom taught in a mosque, and can thus be specified as Muslim, as ‘Asian’ is an insult to Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, Christians and Buddhists. I’m not surprised they are angry.
Something good = Muslim.
Something vile and criminal = hide behind geographical neighbours.