Thursday, 6 January 2011

Muslim in good-natured argument with authorities

Do I REALLY look like a paedophile, asks mosque decorator sacked for fighting criminal vetting checks.

Aisha Darwish’s sitting room is full of Korans. There are Korans on stands, crimson and gold in reverential velvet covers and silk sheathed volumes of the Hadith in impressively framed displays. The motifs on the curtains are elaborate sprawling quotations from the Sura, the cushions on the sofa have patterns of swirling Islamic abstract art - even her teapot is illustrated.
Sitting in one corner is Aisha, modest in full black Niqāb.
‘Do I look like a paedophile?’ she asks, angrily. ‘Of course I don’t. It’s ridiculous. I’ve got four children, 11 grandchildren and I’m as innocent as the day is long. So why should I have to prove that I am not?
‘Why do I have to show my bank statement and my passport to some official? Why should they see how much I spend on my Rupali account, for goodness sake?
‘If people don’t trust me after 15 years, then the world’s gone crazy.’

Bismilla! For the benefit of anyone who’s been stuck in a snowdrift for the past couple of weeks and missed what this row is all about, here’s a quick reminder.

Aisha Darwish’s, 64, is a Mosque decorator from Leeds who has taken a heroic stand against pointless Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks - a legal procedure designed to stop potential paedophiles from working with children or ‘vulnerable adults’, in which they are checked for any past convictions and cautions.
She’s been decorating mosques for 40 years and is chair of the Leeds Mosque Decorators’ Guild. For the past 11 months, as a point of principle, she’s refused official demands that she and her 50-strong guild (who she describes as ‘modest Muslim women over a certain age’) undergo criminal record checks.
Matters reached a head last week when an official contingent from the Mosque’s ruling body, chosen from the congregation, went to Aisha’s home on the outskirts of Leeds. They told her to quit her work with the guild. She was furious, particularly since it was just months before the highlight of their decade, the Leeds Islamic Art Festival.

‘They say I offered my resignation but that’s rubbish. I was fired. It felt like I was back at my madrassa, being carpeted by the headmaster.’

The whole row started in January when Aisha and her mosque decorating ladies were told they had to undergo the criminal records checks. The team of volunteers who wear smart green sashes and welcome visitors to the mosque at the south door had already agreed.
As had the team of guides who work in the prayer hall, the Monuments Guild members who run around with feather dusters as well as the women behind the exhibition desk.
But the mosque-decorators were ­having none of it.

‘I’d never heard such a load of old rubbish,’ explains Aisha, adding with a smile (I guess): ‘Most of the exhibition desk ladies need Zimmers to move about, for goodness sake. 

Aisha and her mosque decorating ladies were told to undergo criminal vetting in January. Twelve months later, she has now been sacked
Of course, some are able-bodied, but most are divinely ancient. In fact, nearly all the mosque volunteers are of a certain age and have worked here for decades. It’s crazy to suddenly turn on them. It’s a bit like how the Gestapo worked.

‘But the trouble with the Muslims is that they’re like sheep: they’re told what to do and they just do it.’

But not Aisha. By the Prophet (peace be unto him!), no!

Unlike the other volunteers who’d meekly acquiesced, she asked why the checks were necessary. After all, mosque-decorators don’t work with children or ‘vulnerable adults’.

The official explanation was like something from a comic spoof: the mosque-decorators share a toilet with the young Koranic scholars and, without checks, it was possible that paedophiles could infiltrate the decorators’ guild.

Aisha rolls her eyes in despair. ‘Yes, we do share a loo with the scholars. But we’re not even there at the same time. The only day in the entire year we overlap is Ramadan when they share a special service.
‘Sometimes, pupils from the madrassa attend morning prayers. But we don’t touch them! We’re far too busy to be chatting! If they’re going to screen us, they should screen the congregation, too.’

Well, it could happen... but it didn't.
Inspired by The New Criterion.


JuliaM said...

"Well, it could happen... but it didn't."

Nicely done... :)

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX in full black Niqāb.
‘Do I look like a paedophile?’XX

I dunno, take the bin bag off and give us a butchers.

Furor Teutonicus said...

What does a peado look like any way, they are not allowed pictures of Nohamhead?

James Higham said...

I think the prophet, peace be upon his soul, made it clear what was permitted and what was not by his own example.

Edwin Greenwood said...

Bastard! That was so convincing I was seven-eighths of the way to believing it.

North Northwester said...

Julia - thank you , ma'am!

FT - not 100% sure you got the point this time, but welcome back anyway.
FWIW, I fell right into Cranmer's Pope-into Sheikh CrazyBeard post early this summer. Utter humiliation for the Northster there.... The biter bit. Still, good point about the groom of the six-year-old bride as always.

James, how else must we live, but like the Perfect Man's exact example?

EG - see my self-flagellation vis-a-vis Cranmer's topsy-turvy posting above.
Question: at what point did this account of a polite, rational, free-speaking and formerly respected active FEMALE member of a mosque's congregation complaining humorously about her travails with British officialdom begin to feel like a fiction to you?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX North Northwester said...
FT - not 100% sure you got the point this time, but welcome back anyway. XX

Thank you.

I got the point. My comment was meant more as a "supplementary". The "What does a peado. look like" Came up in the woman from the catholic church as well. I seems to be a standard cliché.

The fact they were asked at all, I will agree, is bloody stupid, and actually a sinister direction in which the enforcement of law is going. (gone!)

North Northwester said...

FT -alas, I fear that comments pages, like texts, are all too often highly technological ways is which people can share mutual misunderstanding. Apologies.

FWIW again, I hang out with Church of England old dears and they do not look like paedos because, well, most paedos are men.
But watch the anti-family Left say it's all in the family.
The Western, Christian family, that is - not in any Muslim families.

Edwin Greenwood said...

" what point did this account of a ... FEMALE member of a mosque's congregation ... begin to feel like a fiction to you?"

The premise of a woman being given an important-sounding role like that of "mosque decorator" and the fact that such a role might exist did seem a bit surreal from the outset but I was prepared to run with the fascinating if unfamiliar possibility of the existence of a relatively relaxed Islamic tradition, much as there is a broad spectrum of the status of women in synagogues, ranging from Ultra-orthodox to Reform.

An excellently written parody, Sir.

North Northwester said...

EG, I know just what you mean.
I was intending banter there : not sarcasm.

It's like those BBC 'stories' where peaceful and moderate Muslims discuss their lives as they should from a family and local perspective...and then they just mention some moral equivalence craziness about the West 'attacking Islam' or 'getting Islam wrong' as if all those thousands of Muslims' attacks on the West and each other since 9/11 never happened. I keep on hearing them and wanting them to be right, the way Jews obey the law and makes something of their own in this country and not despite it...but there always seems to be a catch. Even the Imam-father-multiply-raped Hannah Shah was 'against the war' - meaning our conduct of it: not the Muslims' insistence on trying to preserve identical crimes against Iraqi women by fighting against the Coalition's attempts at building a peaceful nation.
Not everybody's like me, but jeepers! Some people are so dumb,


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