We are a Muslim please by Zaiba Malik

Islamic Britain by Philip Lewis

Kilo by M Y Alam

Tales from two cities by Dervla Murphy

Destination Bradford


Moving People Changing Places

Views of Bradford

The ‘Worstedopolis’ is the largest of the former woollen mill towns strung out across the Pennines. It has struggled to reinvent itself in the post-industrial era having a dual identity as gateway to both rural Bronte country and urban ‘Bradistan’. The latter is associated with a large and politically dominant Pakistani Muslim population from rural Mirpur in Kashmir. National news from the 1960s of successful coexistence and brave experiments in multiculturalism eventually gave way in the 1980s to reports about the struggles and conflicts surrounding the ‘Bradford 12’, the Honeyford affair and The Satanic Verses Controversy and later, the riots of 1995 and 2001 

Read Tariq Mehmood, Hand on the Sun, 1983; Dervla Murphy, Tales from Two Cities, 1987; Philip Lewis Islamic Britain, 1994; Herman Ouseley, Community Pride, not Prejudice, 2001; Mohammed Yunis Alam, Kilo, 2002; and Zaiba Malik, We are a Muslim, Please, 2010.

Voices and images of Bradford’s Asian history can be found in two books by the Bradford Heritage Recording Unit: Here to stay: Bradford's South Asian Communities, 1994; and Home from Home: British Pakistanis in Mirpur, 1997.

British Asian cities

The colonial relationship of the Indian sub-continent and Britain from the 1600s, and the migration of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Tamils from Sri Lanka in the last century have had a major impact on urban development in the UK. The presence of South Asian communities and their contribution to local life have received extensive coverage in the media, in literature, art, music, academic writing, in the reports of local councils and other organisations, in tourist brochures and on websites.  

Brick Lane

Towns and cities have been imagined and represented in different ways at different times.  In recent years, for example, Bradford and Glasgow have vied with one another to be the British ‘Curry Capital’ of the year.  Bradford markets itself as a place to go global, and invites visitors to enjoy its ‘world mile’; Manchester too has its ‘curry mile’, and Birmingham its ‘Balti triangle’. Both Birmingham and West London are self-styled ‘Bhangra towns’ because of their music and dance venues and events. London’s East End, in particular its famous high street, Brick Lane, is known historically as home to generations of migrants, including Huguenots from France, the Jews and the Irish, and, more recently, its Bangladeshi population.  But – as ‘Bangla Town’ – it is also represented as a site of Islamic centres, ethnic politics, markets and boutique shopping, as well as graffiti and alternative arts.

Leicester in the Ea
st Midlands, which by 2012 is expected to be the first city to have a majority of ethnic minority citizens, is the focus of Britain’s Diwali celebrations, with its annual street lights and festivities enjoyed each year by more than 35,000 visitors.


Writing British Asian cities

Between 2006 and 2009, a network of academics, writers, artists and local professionals got together to examine how five British Asian cities had been ‘written’ and represented by different constituencies in scholarship, oral history, novels, art and music, as well as in the media and official reports.  The meetings and discussions they held in each of the cities, together with the writings they collected, revealed how each has been portrayed and experienced differently.  You can find more information about the five cities – Bradford, London’s East End, Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester here .  You will find descriptions, articles, photographs, interviews with local people, and lists of books about each city.

More views of Bradford

Mohammed Ajeeb has lived in Bradford for forty years.  As Lord Mayor of Bradford in 1985-6, he was the first Asian Lord Mayor in Britain.

“Bradford means everything to me.  Bradford gave me status and respect.  It gave me some problems too.  It is my home.  It is my city.  There is a large community with which I can identify myself.”

Isma Almas is a stand-up comedian.  She grew up on a council estate in Bradford – one of the first Asian families to live there – and returned to the city after going away to university.  Although she remembers the riots and protests, she still feels safe there.

“Bradford feels like a safe place to be.”