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Mosques and the Public Space: Conflict and Co-operation in Bradford

While there is still some evidence of conflict over the planning and building of mosques in Britain, in this article I demonstrate that this is not currently the case in Bradford. Having first considered issues relating to the status and significance of mosques in Britain, and then the institutionalisation of Islam in Bradford, I suggest that this absence of mosque conflict has much to do with the social and political implications of a densely populated ‘Muslim’ inner city. However, the absence of conflict over mosques in Bradford does not mean that the pervasive Islamisation of the inner city is not an issue; quite the reverse. After riots involving youth of Pakistani/Muslim heritage, a dominant discourse has emerged focusing on ethnic and religious ‘self-segregation’ and the need for ‘community cohesion’. Moreover, commentators have identified mosques, and the religious leadership and education they provide, as a part of the problem. My article examines why this might be so and the extent to which Bradford Council for Mosques, and one particular mosque in Bradford, have been able to engage Muslims in cooperative relationships with the public space.

Authored by Sea´n McLoughlin

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