January 1983

A routine case before Huddersfield magistrates, of a youth who admitted taking a car without authority, attracted wider attention for the light it threw on forced marriage. The solicitor representing Bashir Nabi, 17, said that his client had fled to Huddersfield, where he had been brought up by his grandmother until the age of 12, because his family in Glasgow wished him to marry his 18-year-old cousin, whom he had met only once.

'He was kidnapped and taken by force back to Glasgow, where he was forced to marry the girl against his will', said the solicitor. 'His father is a bully and Bashir is afraid to oppose his family, who are strict Muslims. Bashir is very Westernised and did not want to go through with the marriage, and we are looking into the possibility of having it annulled. The facts of the kidnapping and the marriage have been given to the police, who are investigating'.

Bashir’s sister, Yasmir, 14, representing her father and mother, who spoke little English, said it was untrue that they forced her brother to marry against his will. 'My father is an asthmatic and he couldn’t kidnap anyone', she said. 'The marriage took place in the house about two weeks ago, but Bashir agreed to it willingly'. She claimed that her brother left home after a quarrel.

The magistrates placed Bashir on probation.

March 1983

A Christian wife who complained that her Muslim husband treated her 'as a slave' was granted a divorce because of his behaviour. Lord Wylie said in the Court of Session that religious differences loomed large from an early stage in the couple’s relationship and that the marriage was destined to fail almost from the start.

Patricia Elders, a former missionary teacher, and Zafer Baretdji, a Syrian, met in Paris in 1975 and were married in Britain two years later. She said that when she became pregnant her husband, a bus driver in Edinburgh, began to insist that their children should be brought up in the Muslim faith. She had a miscarriage, though became pregnant again within three months. The judge said that, when she was in hospital, the house was left in a 'somewhat chaotic' state with unwashed dishes piled high in the kitchen.

On the other hand, added Lord Wylie, the husband was highly articulate, possessed of a certain undoubted charm, and in difficult economic circumstances had kept a steady job.

June 1983

During a debate in the press about Scottish literature, the writer (and former Arts Council apparatchik) Trevor Royle pointed out that no chair of Scottish literature existed as yet in any Scottish university. 'How many other "civilised" countries in the late-20th century would allow their literature to be treated in such a cavalier fashion?', he asked. Only Glasgow had made any real effort, with the establishment in 1971 of a department of Scottish literature. In the schools, said Royle, more often than not teachers tended to take the soft option of concentrating exclusively on safe, easy-to-understand texts, 'with the result that students want to study English literature when they arrive at university'.

Royle expounded his theory that Scotland’s 'crisis of faith' had its origins in the late-19th-century anglicisation of the Scottish universities. Gradually, only the Renaissance poets, Burns and Scott found their way into the curriculum and Scottish literature became a second-class subject in the minds of university teachers and administrators. Royle wrote that part of the problem was 'the fashionable view that Scottish literature is parochial and insular', adding: 'Much of it is'.

In the same debate, Allan Massie said that anything 'not insistently Scottish' was ipso facto un-Scottish. That denial led to the exclusion of writers such as Muriel Spark, James Kennaway and Giles Gordon.

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