British Islamic Court Warns Mulims against Y2K Celebrations

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

London ( - A British Islamic court has forbidden Muslims to participate in millennium celebrations, particularly those to be held at London's newly-completed Millennium Dome.

The Shari'a Court of the UK said in a decree that even though a prayer area has been built to accommodate Muslims alongside the Dome, they should stay away.

Not only were the planned revelries unacceptable, the court said, but because of fears that terrorists may attack the Dome, Muslims should not visit.

Built alongside the Thames River in Greenwich, the multi-million dollar Millennium Dome is Britain's official - and controversial - monument to the transition from 1999 to 2000. A large number of leading figures is expected to attend invitation-only celebrations there on December 31, while millions more will throng the streets surrounding Trafalgar Square, the traditional location of New Year's festivities.

The Shari'a Court said of the planned events at the Dome: "Under the guise of celebrating the birthday of Jesus and two thousand years of the Christian calendar, people will be free-mixing without a divine permit, where men and women will be entertaining each other, where there will be fashion shows with people parading semi-naked, and where alcohol will be drunk and supplied."

The Court further noted that, "Because of the atrocities currently being committed by the West in Muslim countries such as the bombing of Iraq by the British and the U.S. and the support of the pirate state of Israel, it has become apparent that some Muslims may wish to target the Millennium Dome.

"Although this is not a legitimate target as far as Islam is concerned, Muslims are prohibited from harming themselves and therefore should stay away from the Millennium Dome."

Despite the court's rigid stance, Muslim VIPs plan to attend the event, and representatives of the community have participated in a forum of religious leaders, known as the Lambeth Group, set up to confer with Dome officials over religious aspects of the structure's contents.

One of the pavilions or "zones" inside the Dome focuses on religion. It was the subject of considerable controversy, much of it centered on the relative emphasis to be given to Christianity and other faiths. Its designer, an agnostic, caused a stir when she refused to include a cross in the "faith zone."

The Dome contains a "meditation area" for multifaith prayer and meditation, but the Muslim community refused to pray inside a structure financed by national lottery earnings. As a result, a prayer area paid for by the community was erected outside.

Apart from the Shari'a Court's new ruling, other Muslims have complained about the fact that the Dome will include nothing to illustrate Islamic civilization.

"The Muslim community wanted the Dome to show contribution of Muslims to the world in various fields - science, art, music, etc." reports the latest edition of Muslim News.

"However, the only thing that may help people to understand Islam's contribution to world civilization is books. The Muslim representative in the Lambeth Group, Manazir Ahsan, told The Muslim News: "All the faiths have been asked to submit a list of six or seven books which would provide greater detail about the faith and from this three or four will be chosen to be displayed."

(In another development, Britain's High Commission [embassy] in Islamabad has issued a statement to quell rumors circulating in Pakistan that any foreigner present in the Millennium Dome on December 31 will automatically be eligible for British citizenship or residency.)

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow