20 November 2011
Bradford City Council (pictured) found itself embroiled in controversy last night after printing a leaflet that invoked Islamic teachings to encourage area residents to stop littering the streets.
Sixteen thousands anti-littering leaflets specifically addressing Muslim residents have been scrapped following fears they may be offensive.
The pamphlet, titled "Be Proud of Your Environment", used the Qur'an and statements of the Prophet Muhammad to lecture them about breaking the law and making a "horrible" mess of the city. The City of Bradford has a sizable Muslim population.
The pamphlet said: "Muslims are able to pray anywhere in the world . . . we always have to keep our place of prayer clean - so why not start with the streets and neighbourhoods that we live in?"
Conservative lawmakers feared that the Labour-dominated City Council could have been accused of inciting racial hatred if they had distributed the leaflets which showed rubbish-strewn pavements - since the leaflets might have been misconstrued as placing the blame on Muslims.
Conservative councillor John Robertshaw said he was "mortified" to discover 16,000 of the "full-colour, glossy" leaflets.
"If these had gone out, the council could have been charged with inciting racial hatred, suggesting that litter dropping is exclusive to, or more prevalent among, Muslims," he said.
"A leaflet encouraging people not to drop litter, specifically targeting believers in Islam, is so outrageous that I still find it hard to believe that this has happened," he added. "What next? Leaflets to individually alienate our Christian, Hindu and Buddhist residents?"
He is especially angry that nobody was brought in to review the brochure before 16,000 copies were printed at taxpayer expense: "I find it impossible to accept that particularly in these financially-difficult times no-one proof-read the original draft and prevented money being wasted on a leaflet which could never have been distributed."
Last night, Ian Greenwood, the Labour leader of the council, admitted the idea had been insensitive and said that the leaflets had been withdrawn. No offence was ever intended and the brochures were never distributed to the public.
He told The Mail on Sunday that a "well-intentioned" junior official came up with the idea. "It was stopped by senior officials who realised it would cause offence."
Glen Owen, "BINNED: Anti-litter poster that was an 'insult to Muslims' " The Daily Mail November 20, 2011
Jo Winrow, "'Offensive' litter leaflet is scrapped by Council" Telegraph & Argus November 19, 2011
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today