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Leicester Muslims bitterly let down by delay in lifting lockdown

28th Aug 2020

Hamed Chapman

The Muslim community in Leicester have been left “feeling sad, disconnected and bitterly disappointed” by the Government’s last-minute decision to extend local restrictions on the start of Eid al-Adha celebrations, according to the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO).

The feeling of anger has only been further aggravated by irresponsible journalism and comments by certain politicians suggesting, without any factual evidence at all, that the Muslim or BAME communities are responsible for the spread of the virus,” said Suleman Nagdi, Spokesman for the FMO, which was set up in 1983 to provide support for Muslims in the region.

Strict local restrictions, including the closure of schools and non-essential shops, were imposed on Leicester at the end of June following a rise in coronavirus cases in the city. Loosening restrictions for pubs and restaurants were also prevented.

By July 17, Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced that some restrictions “but not all” would be lifted from the following Thursday after a “substantial drop” in cases. But a week later on July 31, the Government made a series of irregular announcements via social media in the evening which alluded to maintain some restrictions on Leicester and to introduce restrictions to other areas of the country.

“What is considered a blessed night of merry anticipation (of Eid al-Adha), proceeded into frustration and desperation intensified by mixed messages from some sections of the media and members of Parliament. This only led to more confusion as to what this actually meant for Leicester and surrounding areas and as it emerged, also for others around the country,” Nagdi said.

Throughout the local lockdown, the Government was continually criticized by Leicester politicians, including the Mayor of the city, Sir Peter Soulsby, who said officials were being “messed about” by ministers and constantly called for “clarity” on what residents can do.

What was often unclear was what can open and when it can open, what people could do about meeting up with family and friends and where they can do that as well as the uncertainty about travel restrictions.
Nagdi said that the Muslim community, which,“reflects the breadth of the BAME community and proportionately high numbers of frontline workers locally and across the country deserve better.”

“We have all just endured lockdown and continue to be affected by the pandemic and restrictions, with many losing livelihoods and loved ones. We at the very least deserve better as citizens than to be frantically searching for answers on the eve of what should have been a festive day.”

Community and mosque leaders in Leicester as well as across the country have been exceptionally proactive to ensure the safety and well-being of congregations and the wider community and have been at the forefront of any decisions even before the national lockdown was announced on March 23.

This is evidenced by a meeting on March 15, where the FMO, supported by health professionals, held a meeting attended by imams and mosque committee leaders to consider potential closures of mosques and to begin putting place measures that ensure mosques are safe and can mitigate the spread of the virus.

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.

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