COMMUNITY leaders have united to plead with young Muslim men to ‘stop the madness’ of racing hired, high-performance vehicles to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Islamic preachers, politicians and road safety experts joined forces in an effort to ensure the Eid festival is not marred by fatal consequences from speeding sports cars on East Lancashire’s roads.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Justin Johnston warned of ‘an increasing trend amongst young Asian drivers of hiring high-performance vehicles during Eid’.
He said the combination of inexperienced drivers, several passengers, and powerful cars can lead to serious injury and death.
Lancashire County Council health boss Azhar Ali, who represents Nelson, said: “This is madness, potentially fatal madness. It must stop.”
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and mosque imams have launched a Ramadan road safety initiative across the Pennine area with sermons on the dangers of high-speed celebrations at the end of the fast on July 27.
Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, and other senior Muslim politicians backed the campaign saying Eid should be celebrated at home with family, not in sports cars at dangerously high speeds on residential roads.
In the past 10 years a fashion has grown up for young Muslim men to hire cars such as Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis to drive at high speed, pipping the horn, and performing stunts to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
They hire them for the day, sometimes using false documents to get round stringent age restrictions imposed by rental companies - often national groups where the initial approach is made via websites or phoning call centres.
Mr Qureshi said: “Our message to young men thinking of doing this is simply ‘don’t’. It is not Islamic to put lives at risk in high speed sports cars to celebrate Eid. They could have to answer to God, the courts and their own conscience for the consequences.”
Blackburn with Darwen health boss Mohammed Khan said: “I am aware of the problem. It is dangerous and potentially lethal and young men should not do it. Eid is for families, not fast cars.”
Coun Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council Labour group, said: “I know they hire these sports cars, pip their horns and race around. It is a dangerous madness that must be stopped.”
Campaigner Ann Hannon, whose 22-year-old son Matthew died in 2006 racing his car through Blackburn’s streets, set up the Wasted Lives campaign with the Lancashire Telegraph, calling for tighter controls and better training for younger drivers.
She said: “They should not do this. They, their families, and innocent others could have to live with the agonising consequences for the rest of their lives.”
The campaign will take the wreck of the car in which teenager Matthew Alston died after a 2010 crash in Read to the Markazi Jamia Ghausia Masjid mosque, Clayton Street, Nelson on Eid morning to highlight the tragic consequences of reckless driving.
Mr Johnston said: "Firefighters are only too used to attending road traffic crashes and having to deal with the appalling results of dangerous driving behaviour, often by young people.
“Excessive speed coupled with inexperience as a driver, peer pressure to show off, and not wearing seat belt are key factors that make such drivers and their passengers a danger to themselves, other road users and pedestrians.”
A Ferrari F430 Spider can be hired for 24 hours from £459, a Lamborghini LP560 Spyder from £695, and a Porsche Boxster from £350.
Emma Carter, of Accrington’s Priory Rentals, said: “We don’t do spot short-term or day hire for high-performance sports cars because of the risk of damage. It’s just not worth it.”