Supression of Religious Freedom and abuse of Basic Human Rights for a peaceful procession

Supression of Religious Freedom and abuse of Basic Human Rights for a peaceful procession

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Hussain Shah started this petition to luton borough council

The 10th of Muharram is known as the Day of Ashura. It is marked by Muslims as a whole, but for Shi’a Muslims it is a major religious commemoration of the martyrdom at Karbala of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS), his family and friends. Shi’a Muslims honour the martyrs by prayer and abstinence from joyous events.

Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS), grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is revered by Muslims as the “Prince of Martyrs”. He was killed in Kerbala on a day which became known as Ashura, the tenth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, having refused to pledge allegiance to the corrupt and tyrannical caliph, Yazid. Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS), his family and companions were surrounded in the desert by an army of 30,000, starved of food and water, then beheaded in the most macabre manner, a graphic tale recounted from pulpits every year since the day he was slain. Their bodies were mutilated.

Shi’a Muslims have since mourned the death of Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS) in particular on the days of Ashura, then, forty days later, on Arbaeen. While it is a distinctively Shi’a spiritual exercise, Sunnis, even Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Athiests have understood the truth of Kerbala. This is remarkable, given the exclusive nature of religious rituals, and it could only mean one thing: people regardless of color or creed see Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS) as a universal, borderless, and meta-religious symbol of freedom and compassion.

In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. This Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Article 9 - the right to freedom of religion and belief is one of the rights protected by the Human Rights Act, therefore every religion has the right to practice how they want, whenever they want especially if it is a religious day. Ashura is a major holy day and occasion for pilgrimage in Shi’a Islam. Shi’a muslims take part in these events to continue keeping Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS) name alive, so his legacy can never be forgotten. 

We have a population of approximately 5000 people, and our place of worship is Masjid-e-Ali (AS) at Beechwood road, Luton. Masjid-e-Ali is a registered charity (Charity No. 280440).

We are a thriving small community, in addition to our regular religious events, we also host and facilitate a range of non-religious activities like sports events, communal gatherings and social/cultural events indoors/outdoors for all – irrespective of race, religion and ethnicity.

However, few events arranged by our mosque are very popular amongst the Muslim population of UK and EU. These peaceful and very well arranged events are open to everyone irrespective of religion or sect they belong to and are attended by various groups of local and national communities. We also get attendees from all over Europe and occasionally from Scandinavia, India and Pakistan. These events are mainly:

First 10 days of Muharram (1st Islamic month). This is an annual programme over 10 days. We may have speakers from USA, Pakistan, India and Europe depending on their availability and commitments. This event is very well attended by various denominations of Muslim sects from neighbouring towns like Milton Keynes, Watford, Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, London and a few town up North. We had up to 2000 attendees on a single day in 2019.
These are arranged in the evenings, starting at dusk and finish around 11PM. These are managed with the help of over 40 volunteers managed by the mosque committee.

2. First Sunday immediately after the above ceremonies a peaceful procession is arranged, mourning the martyrdom of Imam Hussain AS (Grandson of Prophet Muhammad SAWW). This procession travels through a designated route around Bury Park area. This peaceful procession has been going on for over a decade and is widely supported by the local populace and businesses. This is also attended by mourners from all over the EU and UK. Estimated numbers on this event are approximately 1000. It spans over 4-5 hours, starts mid-day and ends well before sunset.
The events of Muharram are one of the MOST IMORTANT religious obligations for Shia Muslims, which we have always arranged, even under the most barbaric and cruel regimes in our 1400 years history. We in Luton wait all year around to arrange, participate and host these events.

This year, our mosque management has been in constant communication with police and local council to fulfil the required obligations for the procession. However, on the evening of 3 Aug 2021, the Masjid-e-Ali administration informed us that Luton Borough Council and Police have indicated that they will not allow this procession to go ahead. They have taken a plea that a procession affects local businesses and is threat to peace and order for local community.

We do not believe that the local authorities are being honest with us in terms of facilitating to exercise our basic rights and accepting the responsibility of helping us as a community. We believe this issue is being ignited by a few in the local administration, who have no knowledge of our religious and cultural values and norms.

I can assure you that you will not find a community more cooperative and understanding than ours, the followers of Imam Hussain AS. We will do anything to support our government and elected leaders in order to establish an exemplary community and society for our generations. Unfortunately, to discontinue remembering the sacrifices of Imam Hussain AS, is not negotiable.

We as a community, felt abandoned, lost funds invested in the arrangements of the event and had to undertake a very tiring exercise of communicating with participants to inform them not to travel to Luton-all over a weekend!

I apologise to the community beforehand if it still doesn’t take place, stay strong and don’t lose faith. We MUST let our voices be heard. With the help of YOU we can still make this happen. These are OUR values and we WILL fight for them. Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī (AS) told us to stand with the truth even if the world is against you!

Join us to make this Jaloos (March) happen. In’sha’allah.







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