Archive for the ‘History’ Category

1969 Soviet Union 10 kopeks stamp. Sergei Korolev.

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“The United States is expressing its admiration, confusion and surprise” – October 1957 US newsreel

In 1938 Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov had been identified as an enemy of the Soviet State. A Trotskyite plotter who had conspired with other missile designers and technicians to overthrow socialism and derail the Russian path to progress. Of course, Sergey Pavolvich was not a spy, nor a traitor – he was the victim of a world in which truth and fiction were as translucent as the Volga.

19 years later he sat in the control bunker at the Kapustin Yar facility in the Astrakhan Oblast and watched as the R-7 rocket he had designed catapulted an aluminium-magnesium-titanium sphere, not much bigger than a football, beyond the stratosphere and into the great unknown.  Sputnik-1, the first man-made satellite put into orbit, announced itself like a bolt from the blue with an endless set of bleeps. Perhaps, Sergey Pavlovich had enquired, we could make it bleep a message in morse code? Something to broadcast the message of socialism to the entire world? No! the reply had come from the Soviet Ministry of Radiotechnical Industry, that would be much too difficult and time consuming. Not as difficult and time consuming as building an ICBM and launching a satellite into space, Korolyov could have been forgiven for thinking.

Nevertheless, a nation which 40 years previous had been an agrarian backwater had now overtaken the USA and not only forged ahead into the space age – it had created it from scratch. The Eisenhower administration, although it played down the significance of the Sputnik launch, was well aware that it had taken its eye off of the ball – and now that ball was circling hundreds of thousands of feet above their heads, taunting with each high pitched bleep. In the paranoid cold war atmosphere of the late 1950s the US had more reasons to worry about a Soviet lead in space than the loss of a few propaganda points. If the Russians could successfully launch a rocket into space with a separating payload then they could probably launch one at the New York or Washington with a thermonuclear warhead attached. General Le-May, the hot headed chief of US Strategic Air Command, had told everyone who would listen (and everyone that wouldn’t) throughout the 1950s that the Soviets had to be destroyed before they gained the capability to do the same to the United States. In the autumn of 1957 it appeared as if Le-May’s calls to action had passed their sell by date.

All of this was not lost on Soviet Premier Khrushchev. Nikita Sergeyavich may have been born in humble surroundings in the Ukraine, but he was enthusiastic about the scope for economic and technological progress under the planned economy. As the capitalist economies struggled with the contradictions Marx had identified, the socialist model would naturally overtake them. “I will wave as we go past” he famously said to Nixon at the American National Exhibition in Moscow. Space travel was then, for Khrushchev, the ultimate expression of the new world subsuming the old one. As long as the cold war continued, Nikita would require his rockets and Sergey Pavlovich (whose identity was swiftly made a state secret) would oblige in delivering them – for different reasons of course.

For the briefest of periods red plenty was on the horizon and a Soviet satellite was above it.

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Dewsbury Market

Dewsbury Market

Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

The town of Dewsbury has a population of 56,030, with the figure remaining steady over the last forty years. It sits on the trans-pennine rail link that travels between Newcastle and Manchester, a ten minute journey west takes citizens to Leeds, whilst to the East there is Huddersfield and, to the north, Bradford. Dewsbury’s prominent location on within the rail network had traditionally been acknowledged as an important tool to attract trade and commece. Those who dwelled outside the town centre in one of the town’s sub-districts would rarely have to venture more than a mile to pick up anything they needed. It’s a memory shared by many across the country who grew up during the early to mid-twentieth century.
The town was founded on its manufacture of heavy woollen materials and was very much the centre of the nation’s “shoddy” and fine “worsted” cloth industry. The hope and feeling was that this would continue to be the case and safeguard the future of Dewsbury. Forty years later, the onset of globalisation has well and truly put paid to this optimistic, yet perhaps understanable, prophecy. By 1968, a developing economy based around a number of new industrial fields would presumably steer towns like Dewsbury in the right direction. Predictably though, the international economic system within which the town, like every other in the western world, now resides uprooted the defining industries of the country’s manufacturing centres and planted the seeds where labour was cheap and workers were less unionised.

The trains which brought visitors to Dewsbury now take workers and shoppers out. One of the defining symbols of 21st century Dewsbury, and the various other satellite towns of Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford are the mill-conversion flats dotted within a mile radius of its railway station. The premises where the men and women once toiled at the loom to cement Dewsbury’s reputation as one of the manufacturing capitals of Europe are now little more than sleeping quarters for white collar commuters.

The retail and leisure distractions of Huddersfield and Leeds would strangle the life out of the comparably meagre and humble offerings of Dewsbury. Most consider the final nail in the coffin within which Dewsbury as a retail destination now lies was hammered in by WalMart Stores, Inc. In 2002 it paid for the construction of an Asda supermarket which churns out clothes, televisions, CDs, DVDs, stationary, books, jewellry, mobile phones, home appliances and all manner of consumables at a price that the likes of Jack Senior’s sweet shop and Gerald Lee’s gent’s outfitter could not get anywhere near. The rhythm may be bleak but it’s the beat that the earners and spenders of Dewsbury all dance to.

The town is still famous for its market, with coach trips arriving from across the north of England for the second hand sellers on a Wednesday and almost 300 stalls which open on a Saturday. Major retailers like Marks & Spencer and Woolworths which were once considered part of the furniture in the town centre for decades have closed over the last couple of years along with a worrying amount of local retailers. Other household names including WH Smith and Argos do maintain a presence in the town centre against a retail backdrop which is, these days, dominated by discount stores, takeaway food outlets, cafes and the odd specialist hobby shop which fight through every month against the trend of dwindling trade.

Like many towns across the United Kingdom, much of the industrial, retail and residential regeneration has taken place on the outskirts. Matalan, JJB Sports, Next, Sainsbury’s and Halford’s occupy large units with ample car parking space whilst the aformentioned mill-conversion flats continue to sprout. Even further afield, on the border Dewsbury shares with Leeds, lies a recently built business park with over a dozen units occupied by national and international manufacturing and service corporations. Similar estates of a smaller scale have also sprung up on various plots of land dotted about the town previously occupied by the heavy woollen mills of the town’s heyday. It is these units along with Asda and the town’s biggest employer, Carlton Cards, which provide a large percentage of jobs in the town.

In the gap left by the shoddy and worsted cloth industry, there developed a new industry which today, despite not enjoying the same reputation as the woollen trade did, generates jobs and industry in the area. That field is bed manufacturing, a market spearheaded by the local Muslim population. Firms like Kozee Sleep and Highgate Beds have been established for over twenty years and are based in an area which has been aptly nicknamed “The Sleepy Valley”.

This trend of trade and commerce being pulled away from the town centre has been apparent for some years now, the latest example being the construction of a shopping park in Ravensthorpe dominated by national discount chains which target the demographic of low-income families inhabiting the surrounding community. As mentioned, this is a pattern recognisable across the UK but with Dewsbury being within striking distance of Huddersfield and Leeds, the challenges it faces as a retail destination are greater than most.

The Tetley Stadium - Home to Dewsbury Rams.

One of the more postive aspects of the town’s reputation comes in the form of its Rugby League tradition. In 1973, Dewsbury was the home of the best rugby league team in the country and, whilst the Rams, as they are now known, have yet to recapture this glory, the area remains a hotbed for the sport and a conveyer belt of talent churning out elite athletes and national stars. There are five well established clubs in the town, four of which have teams at almost every age group from seven years old upwards.

The town is divided into several regions. To the north there is Dewsbury Moor, Crackenedge and Staincliffe. To the east there is Eastborough, Chickenley, Shaw Cross and Hanging Heaton. South is Thornhill, Thornhill Lees, Savile Town and Whitley and west, Ravensthorpe, Dewsbury Moor, Westtown and Scout Hill. Most of the residents of Ravensthorpe and Savile Town live in the Victorian terraced houses built around the mills of industrial Dewsbury whereas the population of the other suburban districts live in a combination of those terraces, c1960s semi-detached homes and the council estates built in the post-WWII years.

There are four high schools in Dewsbury: Earlsheaton, St. John Fisher, Thornhill, Westborough and Birkdale. All of which, are non-selective, and attract a cross section of students from across the town. The latter two, by virtue their location, are attended by a high percentage of students of Asian origin. The percentage of students achieveing at least 5 A*-C GCSEs (including English and Maths) at each respective school is 42%, 39%, 34%, 28% and 20%e. These figures compare less than favourably with the national average of 47.6%.

Dewsbury is divided into three constituency regions: Dewsbury West, Dewsbury South and Dewsbury East. Dewsbury South and Dewsbury West are home to the majority of town’s Muslim population whilst Dewsbury East, somewhat isolated from the other residential districts is almost exclusively populated by the mostly religiously apathetic white Europeans.

Voter turnout at the last council elections in Dewsbury East was 40% (14th out of the 23 wards in Kirklees council area), In Dewsbury West it was 48% and 51% in Dewsbury East (The 2nd and highest voter turnout percentages overall). Dewsbury West is in Kirklees’ highest population density category (31.6 – 41.2 persons per hectare) whilst East and South are placed in the 2nd and 3rd categories, out of four, with 21.9 to 31.6 and 12.2 to 21.9 persons per hectare respectively.

Whilst unemployment figures are difficult to calculate, the percentage of citizens claiming job seekers allowance (based on the median figures of each designated category) for Dewsbury East, South and West are 2.25%, 3.2% and 4.1% respectively. Just over a third of citizens in Dewsbury West and South receive council tax benefit while just over a quarter do in Dewsbury East. This compares starkly with nearby Mirfield where the figure is just 13.9%.

Dewsbury’s infant mortality rate is more than double the national average, a statistic attributed to smoking and alcohol consumption whilst pregnant and the general ill health of the women carrying the baby. There are also links to this statistic with the conception of a child between first cousins. A child brought up in Dewsbury is also twice as likely, on average, to have rotten teeth as any other child in the country.

Politically, Dewsbury is hard to define. I have only ever lived to see a Labour MP representing the constituency of “Dewsbury and Mirfield”. Ann Taylor was in parliament from from 1987 to 2005 before Burnley born Shahid Malik won enough votes to become the area’s first Muslim MP. Dewsbury East, West and South are all represented by Labour councillors as well but the area is also recognised as a key region for the British National Party with Colin Auty elected councillor of Dewsbury East in 2006 before leaving the party two years later.

Revellers at the famed Dewsbury riot - started by the far right.

The ethnic and cultural make-up of the town has changed dramatically over the last few hundred years. In the early part of the nineteenth century, Dewsbury welcomed migrants from Ireland who came looking for work. They initially settled in the north west of the town before dispersing into the rest of the community over the next half century.

Later, during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, migrants from Southern Asia would arrive in the former industrial towns of England also looking for work. Like the Catholic Irish migrants who sought to create a microcosm of their homeland, the Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi Muslims, finding residence in the terraced houses of Ravensthorpe and Savile Town, would also bring aspects of their “old” life with them. Initially this took the humble form of a prayer mat in over crowded bedrooms but, as the Muslim community grew, it would lead to the foundation of mosques and madrassas, many of which exist in their original form today.

Tom Coates

Read A Religion And A Town – Pt 1

Liverpudlian solicitor W.H.Quilliam converted to Islam in 1887 after returning from a trip to Morocco. He was made Shaykh al-Islam for the United Kingdom by the Sultan of the Ottoman empire and converted roughly 150 British people to the faith. There is earlier evidence of an Islamic presence in the UK and whilst this particular chapter of history is not directly linked to the Muslims of Dewsbury, I feel it’s important to recognise that the migrancy trend of the mid-twentieth century is not the first example of South Asian culture in England.

WH Quilliam

The vast majority of the Muslims who arrived in Dewsbury in the 1950s, 60s and 70s were Sunni Muslims. The Deobandi-Tablighi Muslims arrived from the Punjabi region of India, whilst the Barelwi are originally from Pakistan and Bangladesh. The differences between the two groups within Islam are established but largely irrelevant in the modern day and based primarily on geography. Much of the modern symptoms of confict between the two sides is little more than ‘mud slinging’ between elder members, passing judgement on the cultural traits and habits of each other.

The first significant example of tension between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities came in 1978. A decaying building had been purchased by a group of local Muslims and converted in to a Mosque. Opposite the Dar Ul Ilm, however, stood The Albion, a well established pub. One early evening, a pig’s head was thrown through the mosque door and into the presence of the people assembled inside. ‘The siege of the Albion’ was the first manifestation of the underlying tension and resentment felt by the indigenous population towards their newly settled neighbours. What followed was a confrontation between the two sides. On one was alcohol fuelled disdain and on the other, a religion just finding its feet. The aftermath would see a slight swell in support for the National Front but also resistance to this act in the form of a protest organised by students, both Muslim and non-Muslim, at Dewsbury College.

The jobs that the Muslims did during the 60s, 70s and 80s a were predominantly the ones that were not being filled by the indigenous population. Many left skilled employment in their home countries to take up unskilled jobs in the UK. Clearly, the citizens of the south Asia saw a greater quality of life for their families and children in western Europe. Muslims practicing their religion at this time did so the humble form of a prayer mat in their bedrooms. As the number of Muslims in Dewsbury grew though, there was enough concentrated support in areas like Savile Town and Ravensthorpe for the first Mosques to be built. As we have seen, the first attempt at this was met with hostility but that didn’t alter the fact that progress had been made and the followers of Islam in Dewsbury had somewhere to congrergate and practice their faith.

In 1982, the Markazi Mosque was established in Savile Town. It can accommodate 4,000 worshippers and is the European headquarters for the Islamic organisation Tablighi Jamaat, a movement centred around the Deobandi tradition. Coverage of the organisation in the national press alleges links with terrorism and, in particular, Wahabism (the central Islamic ideology of Saudi Arabia) which is acknowledged by British Muslims and non-Muslims alike as a dangerous and warped interpretation of the Muslim faith. The organisation defends against accusations of this nature, stating that it is a spiritual organisation with the aim of uniting Muslims around the world spiritually.

1987 saw a further sign of defiance from the white European population against what they saw as ‘enforced multi-racialism’. During the school summer holidays of that year, 26 children were withdrawn from the application process for their new school. Their parents refusing to allow their children to attend a school whose intake was now overwhelmingly Muslim. What resulted was the 26 kids at the centre of the row receiving school lessons in a local pub, ironically now a madrassa, from sympathetic retired teachers.

The accusation leveled at the council from the parents was that they were attempting to artificially redress the racial imbalance in the school. This was denied strongly by the council. The fact of the matter was, however, that the parents of these children weren’t prepared to send their children to a school attended by a large percentage of Muslims.

By now, the presence of Islam in Dewsbury was apparent not only by the Muslim people but also by the specialist shops, tcurry houses, madrassas and mosques that had sprung up around the town. Of these shops, the most prominent was, and still is, Mullaco. Salim Mulla opened his first shop in Savile Town in 1981, it sold halal meat and other asian products that the local Muslim population found hard to come by in England.

The shop still exists today but the bulk of the operation has been moved to a large stock warehouse and a newly opened Supermarket in Thornhill Lees. The sign on the building, previously occupied by Kwik Save proudly states “Mullaco of Dewsbury” and Mulla’s business competes admirably with nearby supermarket giants Asda, Lidl, Netto, Tesco and Sainsbury. Mullaco’s strength is in the specialist product it offers but, where previously it attracted a clientele made up primarily of local Muslims, much of it’s custom now comes in the form of curry fanatics, both Muslim and non-Muslim from all over West Yorkshire.

Of course, there are dozens of other shops and mini-markets around Dewsbury run by Muslims selling anything from Carling lager and con-doms to parathas and henna. One of the larger companies operating here is Appna. Appna is not a local firm but sells a similar range of asian ingredients and foods from a large retail unit on the outskirts of the town centre. Many of the businesses operating within the town centre and on the market are run by Muslims – these include shops selling traditional clothing, Bollywood DVDs, jewelery, gifts and western fashion.

The entrepreneurship of the Asian shopkeepers led to a fundamental shift in how the neighbourhood store was run. For the first time, local shops, albeit with reduced hours, would remain open on a Sunday. The view held by the English shopkeepers was that Sunday is traditionally a day of rest but this a sentiment not recognised by followers of Islam. Nevertheless, the non-Muslims of Dewsbury and indeed the rest of the country took advantage of the stores’ extended opening hours and these days the practice of opening for long hours and on Sundays has been adopted by shops, large and small, around the UK.

In 1989, what is remembered by some as a race riot took place in Dewsbury. The confrontation was a result of a clash between Asian youths and BNP supporters. The BNP had organised a “rights for whites” march and attempted to continue activity in Savile Town, well aware of the fact that Savile Town was a predominantly Asian community. There were met by Asian youths and the violent conflict that followed was dealt with by Police.

As the Islamic population of Dewsbury grew, the ethnic make-up of some of Dewsbury’s sub-districts began to change. The overwhelming majority of Muslims arriving in the town found homes in close proximity to one another. This resulted in Savile Town becoming an area where over 95% of the residents are Muslim. High concentrations of Muslim households also appear in parts of Thornhill and Ravensthorpe.

The decline of employment in the mills, and of the mills themselves, meant that it was less of a necessity for the people of Dewsbury to live in the ageing, cramped neighbourhoods built originally for workers. This mass upheaval left homes empty and, with council houses unavailable to migrants, the white working class community was gradually replaced by the Muslim community. The houses the Muslims moved into were cheap and, due to their close proximity with one another, a new community was quickly established.

Islam was slowly developing a presence in Dewsbury. internationally however, the religion was becoming entrenched in a battle between the oil rich states of the middle east and the neo-imperialist west, this conflict landed on the town’s doorstep on July 7th 2005, when Mohammed Siddique Kahn, who lived and worked in the town, led a group of 4 radicalised Muslims in an attack on a London underground train and a bus in an act of terrorism, blowing themselves up and killing 52. Naturally, an incident of this magnitude shocked the world and many in Dewsbury who’d worked hard to bring communities together were fearful of the impact it would have on relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims in the town. The men who carried out these atrocities claimed to be acting on behalf of Islam as well as in protest against “Injustices perpetrated by the British against Muslims across the world”. Kahn, a “quiet” teaching assistant in Thornhill left behind him a wife and child who were forced into hiding following these events*.

Later that year, in November, news broke of the sale and free availability of DVDs and video cassettes promoting terrorism and opposing integration outside the Markazi Mosque – a story which put Dewsbury in the national news again. Thankfully, vigilant residents, who purchased the offending material under the impression it featured prayer citations, informed the police.

Less than 12 months later though, the town became the home of the youngest ever terrorist suspect. Hammaad Munshi, then 16, was returning home following a GCSE exam when he was arrested on suspicion of posessing material linked with an online terrorist network. It emerged that Munshi, whose grandfather is one of the town’s religious leaders, had been groomed by two other men, both 21 and of Bradford, Aaabid Kahn and Sultan Muhammad. All three men were sentenced to imprisonment.

2006 saw teaching assistant Aisha Azmi sacked from her job at Headfield Church of England School for refusing to remove her veil. This was a story that captured the attention of the country and the name ‘Dewsbury’ was once again on the lips of every journalist in England. The school claimed that, whilst ever she wore the veil, which left only her eyes visible, the children could not understand her. The decision went to the Employment Appeals Tribunal which found in favour of the school and Kirklees council, albeit with Ms. Azmi receiving “victimisation” compensation of £1,100, in what many consider to be a “trade-off” to end the saga quickly.

'The Press' - at it again.

By now the media, and particularly newspapers like the Daily Mail and Express, saw Dewsbury as a reservoir filled with newspaper selling stories of religious turbulence and Islamic ‘colonisation’. When the big stories dried up however, efforts were made to find controversy at any cost. This would ultimately result in a story claiming that NHS nurses were being forced to pander to the wishes of Muslim patients and carry out duties including providing fresh bathing water and turning beds towards Makkah five times a day. The story, carried in the Daily Express, was challenged by Dewsbury MP Shahid Malik and it emerged that the wishes of Muslims were only fulfilled if they were terminally ill and close to death.

Another example came earlier that year, a story also published in the Daily Express, this time expressing its outrage at a Sharia Court operating “above British law” in Dewsbury. The article told of the “wail of the Mosque signalling the end of British justice”. The ‘court’ is based at a former pub, which perhaps helped to fan the flames of sensationalism even more furiously. The reality of the matter was, and remains, that the Sharee council which operated from within the building welcomed local Muslims who wished to settle civil disputes such as martial seperation, child custody issues and other civil squabbles in a manner morally compliant with Islam. It has no jurisdiction over British law and instead provides an alternative to often lengthy and expensive court battles. Despite there being very little factual substance to these stories, the influence they can have on non-Muslims living amongst or alongside Muslims and, subsequently, the detrimental effect they have on community cohesion should not be overlooked.

As stated, the MP for Dewsbury and Mirfield is Burnley born Muslim Shahid Malik, a member of the Labour party. He was elected representative of the constituency in 2005 with 41% of the vote. As we have seen, Mr. Malik has been quick to defend the town when it has received the wrong sort of media attention but has himself attracted negative media attention, particularly from local newspaper ‘The Press’, the MP even took the newspaper to court in 2005 over letters the paper published which alleged that one of his campaign team had racially intimidated a rival election candidate. The case was settled out of court but Malik’s rough ride with the that particular newspaper continues. Shahid is also the Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice making him the first Muslim to be made a minister under any British government.

Malik’s closest rival for the Dewsbury seat in the general election of four years ago was Sayeeda Warsi. Despite missing out by 12% of the vote, Warsi has since risen through the ranks of the Conservative party to become Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion. Sayeeda was born and brought up in Dewsbury, attending Birkdale High School, and was the first Muslim woman selected to represent the Conservative party in a parliamentary election. In 2007, she was made a working a peer, becoming Baroness Sayeeda Warsi of Dewsbury as well as the youngest member of the House of Lords.

Tom Coates

A Religion And A Town. Pt1 – A Shoddy Town

Posted: August 11, 2010 by ifyoutoleratethis45 in Culture and Society, History

Dewsbury is a town which stands at the intersection of many of the issues which dominate the cultural landscape of Europe in the 21st century. It is no stranger to the hysteria raised over Islamic Fundamentalism and immigration, nor to the growth of the racialist far right . In four articles Tom Coates explores the religious, political and economic contours of this supposedly divided town and comes to a conclusion which is at odds with the two-dimensional image often portrayed by the media. – J Chisem

Dewsbury is a changing town, it is changing as I write this and will continue to for many years to come. The migration, settlement and integration of a religion is a long process, particularly when it is happening against a backdrop of international political unrest and local misunderstanding.

The actions of a few on July 7th and September 11th damaged the name of Islam. In many aspects, the religion is still recovering from the abhorrent actions of Islamic fundamentalists who claimed to be acting on behalf of the people it, instead, would make life very difficult for. These atrocities provided ammunition for the right wing who have made enemies of moderate Muslims around the UK and in Dewsbury and, in doing so, fanned the flames of racism.

Dewsbury is not without problems. It struggles to find an identity much the same way as the Muslims who live in the town do. Whilst followers of Islam fight against racism and misrepresentation, Dewsbury struggles to answer the questions posed to it by 21st century capitalism.

Muslims and non-Muslims may live in isolated communities at the moment but share a myriad common values, some of which they’re not yet aware of. We come together in the workplace without issue, laugh at the same things and express anger at the same things. Over the last ten years, the only acts of segregation have been perpetrated by extremist minorities on either side. On one we have radicalised Islam and, on the other, racism and hate politics. It is impossible for one of the two to dominate and the other to fade into obscurity – the more powerful one side becomes, the stronger the resistance will be from the other – the BNP, for example, will categorise Muslims as stubborn colonisers the same way they themselves are often categorised as a neo-Nazi party.

What is not up for debate, however, is that Dewsbury has gradually become a multi-cultural town with symbols of its recent Islamic influence apparent to any visitor. Often overlooked, however, is that beginning in the 1980s, aside from south Asian influence, the hallmarks of a town situated within a global market have become apparent. American companies WalMart (Asda), Clinton Cards, McDonalds, Subway and KFC all have bases in the town. Danish discount chain Netto opened a purpose built store in 2008 and German supermarket Lidl stands 200 yards from the train station. Electrical retailer Comet stocks televisions and electrical equipment made in China and Japan and Australian and Belgian beer flows from the taps of Dewsbury’s pubs. Italian and Chinese takeaways line streets across the town, family run Woodkirk garage sells French cars and Cook Islanders play for the town’s rugby team. The examples are poignant and numerous but this international dimension to the town is often missed.

Those critical of the South Asian influence over the town speak of an erosion of British values and culture whilst failing to recognise that the cultural shift commonly associated with Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Islam only tells half of Dewsbury’s story as, fundamentally, a cog within the global machine. It is a story told in towns and cities up and down the country and a trend that shows no signs of deceleration.

Islam and the people who follow it have made several significant contributions to Dewsbury making it a town of ‘firsts’ for proud British Muslims. It is incredible, and perhaps crucial, though that it is the same town considered by many to be the UK’s capital for Muslim terrorism and right wing extremism. It is because of this that the original question remains unanswered. Dewsbury is in a state of limbo, and will continue to be, for as long as the militant wings of the two communities are active. It is up to the majority of Muslims and non-Muslims living in the town who seek peaceful co-existence to realise their common goal by rejecting the poisonous elements, on their own sides, which stand in the way of unity.

Tom Coates