26 March 2017

‘Why Do All the Jihadis Come to Birmingham?’

.... In the neighborhoods of Sparkbrook, Washwood Heath and Alum Rock, where many of Birmingham’s Muslims live, mosques dot the cityscape, some offering Shariah councils for family matters.

After-school madrassas serve a growing demand for parents who want their children to study the Quran. Even state-funded schools often accommodate religious demands, allowing for lunchtime prayer, shortened days during Ramadan and optional head scarfs.

To many outsiders, the segregation is striking. But Muslim residents, particularly women, speak of their neighborhoods as safe havens from an increasingly hostile society.

“There is safety in numbers,” said Sara Begum, 20, shopping on Coventry Road, a bustling area where eateries advertise halal meat from Kashmir and Syrian cuisine.

Ms. Begum, who wears a face-covering niqab, rarely leaves her neighborhood for fear of being insulted or worse. She said a friend’s head scarf had been ripped away by far-right youths near Birmingham’s downtown train station. [The New York Times] Read more