SAVILE Town’s iconic Markazi mosque has become the unlikely focus of a public backlash after two highly-respected Muslim scholars were summarily sacked.
A petition on the Change.org website, started by ‘People of Dewsbury & Batley’, is calling for a public meeting to challenge the Markazi’s management board, who it says risks turning the mosque’s Islamic seminary into another ‘Zakaria Muslim Girls’ High School’.
The local Muslim community raised huge sums for the Batley-based Zakaria to buy and refurbish the former Batley Hospital off Carlinghow Hill but the plans were ditched in May, 2018, with debts of over £1.3m to individual donors.
Public anger erupted when it was discovered some of the school’s trustees had purchased land around the school in Warwick Road and applied for planning permission to build houses on it.
Although parents were told the Zakaria would close in summer 2018, the oldest Muslim girls’ school in Europe was kept open by its founder, Dr Ebrahim Dadhibai.
The current petition questions the running of the Markazi’s world-renowned Islamic seminary, an independent day and boarding school for boys from year 7 upwards, adjacent to the mosque.
The Markazi mosque was opened in 1978 under the guidance of Hafeez Patel, whose funeral on the nearby playing fields in 2016 was attended by thousands, with mourners flying in from around the world.
Praising the school’s proud record of producing Islamic scholars who have “gone on to make a real meaningful impact on the world stage”, the petition adds: “Sadly, this legacy and its traits has changed as a consequence of the current ‘Shura’ management decision, who themselves have a deplorable, undignified track record of their dealings, financial and otherwise; Zakaria Muslim Girls’ High School (Batley) and Dewsbury Markaz are just two amongst many.”
It says Maulanas (scholars) Saeed Patel and Yusuf Darwan “were summarily dismissed from their posts on Friday, 29 November, 2019, for no reason other than a disdain for their high moral character, integrity and upright conduct in the face of injustices, leaving both staff, students and the wider community demoralised and upset.” Accusing the trustees of having “no accountability and transparency” and concerns being met with “a wall of silence”, the petition concludes: “Do we want to see the real genuine sacrifices, toil and sweat of our founding fathers of over 50-plus years to be just wasted and fritted (sic) away at the behest of a ‘power hungry’ elite?”
The petition does not name individual trustees and as of noon yesterday (Thursday), 2,520 people had signed it.