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‘No-go’ Muslim areas aren’t real – but Islamophobia is

We need to take miseducation about Islam more seriously – if non-Muslims are fearful of entering certain areas, it says more about their prejudice than the Muslim population itself

Aisha Rimi
Saturday 29 January 2022 18:48 GMT
A ‘Daily Mail’ article claimed that parts of Blackburn, Didsbury, Bradford and Dewsbury were no go areas for white Brits
A ‘Daily Mail’ article claimed that parts of Blackburn, Didsbury, Bradford and Dewsbury were no go areas for white Brits (Getty Images)

It’s another day and another reminder that Islamophobia is rife in this country. A University of Birmingham survey published earlier this week revealed that not only are Muslims the third least-liked group in the UK, after the Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities, but also that more than one in four – and nearly half of Conservative and Leave voters – hold conspiratorial views about Sharia “no-go areas”.

Now, I was hardly surprised that Muslims like myself make up one of the least popular communities in the UK – the only surprise being that we didn’t take the number-one spot. But this idea that “Sharia no-go areas” exist in this country is a narrative that needs to come to a swift end.

It’s not the first time the idea of these insidious no-go zones for non-Muslims in the UK has been a part of public discussion. Just last year, the Daily Mail published an online article claiming that “parts of Blackburn are ‘no-go areas’ for white men, while ultra-orthodox parents in Bradford make children live under Taliban-like rules”.

In the same article, areas of Didsbury, Bradford and Dewsbury were also described as places where white people lived in fear, afraid they would experience racial violence from the supposed overwhelming Muslim population.

Just to clarify, the 2011 census showed that Didsbury West was 84.1 per cent white and 5.8 per cent Muslim, while Didsbury East was 77.9 per cent white and 9.18 per cent Muslim. So make of those claims what you will.

The Daily Mail ran another similar story in 2014, where the chief inspector of constabulary said that “parts of the UK are becoming no-go areas for police because minority communities are operating their own justice systems”.

Statements like these are what fuels negative views about Islam and Muslims. I know there are also plenty of other factors, but to see such stories continuously perpetuated and to see the effects of it on our society’s thinking is worrying.

Sharia law is widely misunderstood in this country – for starters, it isn’t really a “law”, more a code of conduct for how Muslims should live an Islamic life,  derived from the Quran and the rulings of Islamic scholars.

Sharia councils do exist in the UK and have done so since the early 1980s, but they exist mostly to guide couples through marriage problems and to deal with divorce and inheritance issues. However, the councils do not have the ability to override UK law.

One teaching under Sharia law is that we must obey the law of the land in which we live – so Muslims trying to impose our own Islamic “laws” in the UK would simply go against our beliefs.

The problem is, we don’t take the miseducation about Islam seriously in this country. Ludicrous statements run on our front pages, but there continues to be a lack of government response to such claims.

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Keeping quiet on issues of Islamophobia and not taking any real stand shows me and the rest of the British Muslim population that our elected leaders do not take threats to our religion seriously. Otherwise, why not debunk these factual errors that keep popping up year on year? There is nowhere in the UK that operates under Sharia law.

Britain’s three million Muslims make up 5.6 per cent of the UK population. Very few parts of the country have large Muslim populations, and if some people are fearful of entering areas that we occupy, that says more about them and their prejudice towards Muslims rather than the Muslim population itself.

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