Britain's First Muslims: Portrait of an Arab Community by Fred Halliday

By Fred Halliday

Worry of the terrorist risk provoked by way of radical Islam has generated heated debates on multiculturalism and the mixing of Muslim migrant groups in to Britain. Yet little is understood approximately Britain’s first Muslims, the Yemenis. Yemenis begun settling in British port cities in the beginning of the twentieth century, and afterwards turned a part of the immigrant labour strength in Britain’s commercial towns. Fred Halliday's ground-breaking examine, established in Yemen and Britain, presents a desirable case examine for realizing the dynamics of immigrant cultures and the complexities of Muslim identification in Britain. Telling the tales of sailor groups in Cardiff and commercial staff in Sheffield, Halliday tracks the evolution of neighborhood organisations and the impression of British govt coverage on their improvement. He analyzes hyperlinks among the diaspora and the place of origin, and appears at how varied migrant teams in Britain relate to eachother less than the Muslim umbrella.  In a desirable new creation to his vintage research, Halliday explains the way it will help us comprehend British Islam in an age which has produced either al Qaeda and the Yemeni-born boxer Prince Naseem.

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I,. Mlfd. Micl O/Jk6. Ai: Crew register of the Italiana, dated Cardiff, 25 May 1916. Crewmen numbers 16-20 have Yemeni names, give Aden as nationality, and addresses at Bute Street and Maria Street in Butetown (Courtesy Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum, Cardiff) The 1940s represented the high point in the development of Butetown as a cosmopolitan community of sailors and their families, and this was especially true for the Yemenis and Somalis. There are at least three reasons for this.

Another reason for Butetown's ghetto character was its physical isolation. Butetown was and is cut off from the rest of Cardiff. In the early period, it was bounded on the south by the docks and the sea, on the west by the Glamorgan Canal (now filled in), on the east by more docks, and on the north by a railway line. indd 18 6/10/09 09:53:42 The First Yemeni Migration:â•—The Portsâ•… 19 is only one proper entrance, under the railway bridge and down Bute Street. Migrant communities in Butetown had little reason to go into Cardiff, while inhabitants of, or visitors to, Cardiff had no reason to go to Butetown, and many seem to have believed that they would be robbed or stabbed if they went there after dark.

2 This is a revealing quotation for two reasons: first, because it evokes the mixture of attraction and prejudice that made up the popular myth of Tiger Bay; second, because it illustrates one way in which Arabs and Yemenis were invisible because they were reclassified in a more romantic way. 'Lascars' and 'Levantines' were common late nineteenth-century terms. 'Lascar', ultimately derived from the Arabic word askari meaning soldier, had entered Anglo-Indian parlance from Urdu; first it meant an Indian soldier, and later became the normal term for South Asian and so Yemeni crewmen.

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