'Daily Mail journalists welcome to come and see Dewsbury and Bradford for themselves' say leaders after damning article on Yorkshire towns
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The West Yorkshire locations were two of four towns in Northern England highlighted as bad areas for segregation in the MailOnline article on academic Ed Husain, who visited mosques across Britain for his new book, Among the Mosques.
Mr Husain, a London-based academic who was previously senior advisor to former PM Tony Blair, described Bradford as having "mosques on every corner" while writing that visiting Dewsbury was like "visiting a different country and century".
But scores of people living and working in the towns have hit out at the remarks and the publication of the story, with one business man saying Dewsbury is "fed up to the back teeth" of negative press.
"The media needs to lay off towns like Dewsbury", said Paul Ellis, the president of the town's Chamber of Trade who previously served as a Labour councillor for Dewsbury West.
"While people like Ed Husain, who has never lived here, gets to publish his book and the Daily Mail gets a headline, people in other parts of the country read it and must think God knows what about the North, despite having never been here.
"Towns like Dewsbury have some of the friendliest people you'll meet.
"I have no problem promoting it and we'd love for Daily Mail reporters to come to Dewsbury and see the town properly."
He added: "In the first few days of lockdown, we had people from the local mosques contacting people at the nearby churches to see if there were any people in their parish who needed food parcels or shopping done for them."
The comments were echoed by Coun Jackie Ramsay, Labour councillor for Dewsbury South, and her colleague Coun Darren O'Donovan for Dewsbury West, as well as Conservative councillor for Wyke in Bradford, Coun Joan Clarke, while Bradford councillor Arshad Hussain called the claims "ludicrous".
All said they had lived in the town all their lives and that they had never felt there were "no go areas" for anyone.
Musharaf Asghar, a Dewsbury-based public speaker who is known for his appearance on Channel 4's Educating Yorkshire, meanwhile described the Daily Mail article as "lies".
"Anyone who is afraid to enter Dewsbury is more than happy to drop me a message and I’ll take you to one of the best ice-cream parlours in [the town]," he wrote in a tweet..
Commenting on the article, author Ed Husain said Among the Mosques, which comes out on Thursday, was "not about ‘no-go areas’".
"The issues the book addresses are much more complicated and nuanced. Some of the mosques and towns I visited were best of British," he said.