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On the weekend Milford Mosque opens to the public we ask: What is Islam?



WE may think we may know, but do we understand this faith which is followed by approximately a quarter of the world’s population?

here are some facts about Islam on the same week that the Mosque in Milford Haven opens to the public:

  1. The core message of Islam is that the One God created everything in existence. This Eternal being is All-Powerful, and He is unlike anything in His creation — where no partners should be attributed to Him. Muslims will refer to this being as Allah — which is another name for God — more specifically ‘the God’ who is the only one who is worthy of worship. The name’s origin can be traced to the earliest Semitic writings in which the word for God was Il, El, or Eloah, the latter two used in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). Allah is the standard Arabic word for God and is also used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews. There are three core themes in the Quran (the final revelation from Allah to humans) about Him: (1) He is the Creator, Judge, and Rewarder; (2) He is unique (wāḥid) and inherently one (aḥad); and (3) He is omnipotent and all-merciful. Allah is the “Lord of the Worlds,” the Most High; “nothing is like unto Him,” and this in itself is to the believer a request to adore Allah as the Protector and to glorify His powers of compassion and forgiveness.
  2. This Creator created humanity to know Him and to worship Him. To worship God is the ultimate purpose of our existence. Worshipping God in Islam means remembering Him, being grateful to Him, praising Him, loving Him, and living righteous lives according to His revelation. Through this worship, we’ll find true inner peace in this life and attain paradise in the Hereafter as a reward for fulfilling our purpose. Although God created us to worship, He does not need our worship of Him — but we are in need of Him — the next point explains further.
  3. The Arabic term Islam, literally means “submission” which highlights the core religious notion of the faith — that the believer (Muslim) accepts surrender to the will of Allah. Islam as a religion provides a comprehensive explanation for why we at times suffer in this world, and why we go through hardships. God outlines in the Quran that He created life and death to test which of us are best in action and would try to do what’s right to please our Creator. If you hark back to the past, you may have experienced heartbreak when you loved a lost one. This is undoubtedly the most testing of times for most of us, but during this period, we should be conscious of our Creator; “Remember Me; I will remember you. And thank Me, and never be ungrateful.” [The Quran, Chapter 2 Verse 152].

As God will aid you in this time of need and in turn it becomes an opportunity to develop physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Hardship enables us to practice patience and thus drawing closer to Him — putting our temporary existence into perspective — as we all have an expiration date, and paving the way to an Eternal life of bliss: “So, surely with hardship comes ease.” [The Quran, Chapter 94 Verse 5].

  1. Muslims believe Allah sent messengers throughout history to guide humanity and remind them of their Creator. Muslims believe in all the significant Biblical prophets of the past, such as Adam, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, and Jesus (peace be upon them all) with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) being the final messenger where Jesus him. Islam teaches us that these prophets were the best of humanity created by God, the perfect role models for their people and us to follow — however, they were not divine in any way. Their role was to wake people up to the reality of life and draw them away from worshipping created objects, bringing them back to the worship of the One true God. In essence they are the epitome of those who submit themselves to Allah — so every prophet is deemed as a Muslim. However, over time the message and scriptures of the previous prophets were corrupted by humanity hence Allah sending another messenger to replenish the original message.

In Christianity and Islam, there is the message that God wants to make Himself known to us; He wants a relationship, and that’s why He has sent messengers and revelation to humanity throughout history. The question we should ask ourselves is: “Are we willing to take the time and effort to seek out God’s truth?” This is the key to fulfilling the purpose of our creation, which will give us inner peace in this life and success after we pass away. The pursuit of the purpose of our lives is a noble endeavour; however, it should be an objective for everyone to achieve. What will be our means of attaining this lifelong objective?

One of the keys to unlocking the truth lies in the person of Jesus Christ. Islam holds a unique position among the world’s religions as it is the only religion, barring Christianity, that acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah — where believing in him is a compulsory component of being recognised as a Muslim. Even though Jesus is one of the most significant personalities in the world today, with nearly two billion Christians and around 1.8 billion Muslims believing in him, he is also perhaps the most misunderstood and misrepresented person in history. As we will explore, while Christianity and Islam share much in common concerning Jesus, they also make opposing claims that should be studied and discussed with love and compassion.

If we were living in first-century Palestine, then it would be straightforward. We could simply walk up to Jesus and ask him about his message. Since we obviously don’t have that opportunity today, we have to make use of the tools that are available to us, such as scripture, history and reason. We would love for you to attend this upcoming exhibition so we can together explore the life of Jesus, one of the most remarkable men to walk this earth and learn what Islam has to say about Jesus, his life, and his mission.

Those interested in learning more about Islam are welcome to attend the Milford Haven Open Days/Jesus Exhibition taking place on Sat 9th and Sun 10th September at the Hamad Bin Khalifa Islamic Centre, 122 Charles Street, Milford Haven (Post code for Sat Nav: SA73 2HW) The opening times of the exhibition are11:00HRS until 17:00HRS. Women are kindly requested to respect the traditions of Islam when dressing for the occasion.

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Huge boost for Pembrokeshire as Celtic Freeport set to create 16,000 jobs



THE CELTIC FREEPORT in Milford Haven and Port Talbot and Anglesey Freeport on Ynys Mon have been chosen as Wales’ first freeports, helping to create tens of thousands of new jobs in the green industries of the future, the Welsh and UK Governments announced today.

In May 2022, the Welsh Government reached an agreement with the UK Government to establish a freeport programme in Wales.

Following a bidding process, the Welsh and UK Governments have jointly agreed to create two freeports in Wales, which are expected to be operational later this year.

The winning bids are:

  • The Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot. The freeport will be based around the port of Port Talbot in Neath Port Talbot, and the port of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. The plans focus on low carbon technologies, such as floating offshore wind (FLOW), hydrogen, carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and biofuels to support the accelerated reduction of carbon emissions. The freeport aims to attract significant inward investment, including £3.5bn in the hydrogen industry as well as the creation of 16,000 jobs, generating £900m in Gross Value Added (GVA) by 2030, and £13bn by 2050.
  • The Anglesey Freeport, Ynys Mon. The freeport will be based around the port of Holyhead, Anglesey Prosperity Zone, Rhosgoch and M-Sparc. The freeport will develop the Energy Island Programme (EIP) by focusing on marine energy technology testing on the seabed (tidal and wind). The freeport aims to create between 3,500 and 13,000 jobs by 2030, with an increased GVA of approximately £500m. It also anticipates significant inward investment, including the possibility of £1.4bn in the green energy sector.

The freeports will form special zones with the benefits of simplified customs procedures, relief on customs duties, tax benefits, and development flexibility. Welsh freeports will promote fair work opportunities and prioritise environmental sustainability and the climate emergency.

They are designed to promote regeneration and high-quality job creation, become a national hub for global trade and investment across the economy, and foster an innovative environment. The successful bids are focused on boosting the distinct strengths the sites boast, exploiting opportunities from offshore wind and marine energy to advanced manufacturing and innovation.

The two freeports aim to collectively create around 20,000 jobs by 2030 and attract up to £4.9bn in public and private investments.

Announcing the winning bids, First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford said: “I am pleased to confirm the Celtic Freeport in Milford Haven and Port Talbot and Anglesey Freeport have been selected as Wales’ new freeports.

“The Welsh Government has a clear economic mission to transform the Welsh economy, creating a stronger, fairer and greener future. The designation of these sites as Wales’ first freeports will reinforce that mission, building on the significant investments and partnerships we have made in these regions over many years.

“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work on a whole range of issues.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Wales is a thriving part of the UK, and today’s new Freeports will see businesses and opportunities for people in and around Anglesey, Port Talbot and Milford Haven go from strength to strength.

“Everyone deserves equality of opportunity and working closely with the Welsh Government has helped to deliver these fantastic new sites.

“Today’s Freeports show the hard work being done day in, day out to bring new, high-skilled jobs to communities across Wales nd deliver on my promise to grow the economy.”

Commenting on the selection of Celtic Freeport, Roger Maggs MBE, Chair of the Celtic Freeport bid consortium, said: “We hope that Wales’ two freeports will deliver for the country. The future is exciting. The Celtic Freeport has catalysed major business interest, local communities, trade unions and academia in using Wales’ largest industrial base as the launchpad for developing new technologies and the renewable energy manufacturing opportunities of tomorrow. This has the potential to unlock £5.5 billion of private and public investment for Wales and create new training and innovation facilities, factories and expanded green energy ports, as well as new alternative fuel production complexes. 
“Our green investment and innovation corridor will support the creation of 16,000 green jobs, which will not just be good news for Milford Haven, Pembroke Dock and Neath Port Talbot, but also Bridgend, Carmarthen, Swansea, The Valleys and many other communities across Wales.” 

Port Talbot

The Celtic Freeport consortium comprises Associated British Ports (ABP), Neath Port Talbot Council, Pembrokeshire County Council and the Port of Milford Haven.  The bid’s strategically located tax and customs sites span almost 250 hectares in Pembrokeshire and Neath Port Talbot. 
Cllr David Simpson, Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council, said: “Today’s announcement that the Celtic Freeport Bid has been successful is fantastic news for Pembrokeshire, Wales and Great Britain. 

“The Celtic Freeport will unleash the full green industrial potential of Wales, accelerating the decarbonisation of our most carbon intensive industries and bringing new opportunities to our communities, major international investment and thousands of high skilled jobs to the region.” 
Will Bramble CBE, Chief Executive of Pembrokeshire County Council, added: “The Celtic Freeport will produce significant investment in the region, particularly the focused areas of upskilling our workforce and ultimately creating job opportunities here in south west Wales.  Fundamentally this will now put us at the leading edge of the green industrial revolution.”  
Cllr Steve Hunt, Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “Today’s announcement is an absolute game changer for Neath Port Talbot and for Wales.  It will transform the fortunes of people in all our communities. It puts us at the forefront of the world’s green energy revolution and our residents will soon be working in the industry of the future, learning the skills for securing green, well paid jobs. 
Karen Jones, Chief Executive of Neath Port Talbot Council, said: “This great news is the first step towards a much brighter future here in our county borough.  I look forward to working with our partners to make sure local people and businesses have the best possible benefit from what’s now in front of us.” 
Tom Sawyer, Chief Executive of the Port of Milford Haven, said: “As the UK’s Energy Port, the Port of Milford Haven welcomes this fantastic news which allows us to build on the significant multi-million pound investment we’ve already made in the renewables sector at Pembroke Port.  But what really excites us about this announcement today is the positive impact it’s going to have on our coastal communities. Securing the jobs of today and creating fantastic opportunities for future generations.” 
Andrew Harston, Regional Director, Associated British Ports, said: “Associated British Ports is absolutely delighted that our Celtic Freeport bid has been successful. Floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Wales, and the scale needed is immense.  

“ABP stands ready to invest £500 million in our port at Port Talbot to ensure first mover advantage to capture this global market. We want our ports to act as a base for FLOW manufacturing, maintenance and operations. And it’s not just about FLOW, it’s about sustainable fuels and hydrogen too.” 

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Lola murder trial: “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”



IN police statements read to Swansea Crown Court today, Wednesday, March 22, murder accused Kyle Bevan stated “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”.

A number of interviews were read to the court today, in which Bevan had described his version of events which lead to two-year-old Lola’s fatal injuries.

In one of the interviews, a list of injuries Lola sustained were explained to murder accused Bevan, which included extensive severe head trauma, cerebral haemorrhage, ischemia and multiple areas of severe bruising to her body. 

Bevan was told that an Ophthalmologist said Lola has suffered haemorrhages to her eyes. 

The defendant replied: “that’s only one doctor’s opinion, another may say something else”.

Images were then shown to Bevan of Lola’s injuries.

Bevan replied: “I didn’t beat her up to that extent”.

At 4.26am on the morning of July 17, 2020, Bevan took a photograph of Lola on his mobile phone, which showed her standing up and conscious, but with red marks on her back area. 

It is not believed Lola had sustained the head injury at this point.

At 6.33am Bevan typed the following into an internet search bar: “My 2 year old child has just taken a bang to the head and gone all limp and snoring, what’s wrong?.”

This was followed up by a screenshot from a medical website which showed symptoms of a serious head injury and where it clearly states that emergency care must be sought immediately.

An ambulance was not called until 7.28am.

In a statement read to the court from January 18, 2021, some doubt was placed over what time the tot received the extensive injuries.

Detectives were asking the defendant why had he not attempted to get any help for almost an hour, probing why had he not gone to a neighbour or woke up Lola’s mother, co-accused Sinead James.

Bevan replied: “At 5 o’clock in the morning? Tracey would’ve punched my face in.”

The interview was paused for legal representation before Bevan clarified stating: “I didn’t mean it at like 5 o’clock, it was just early.”

The trial continues tomorrow at 10am.

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Pembrokeshire bakery wins award for “ambitious” carbon emissions reduction plan



TAN Y Castell, a family-run bakery business based in Narberth, has won an award for its “ambitious” plan to reduce its carbon emissions.

The company, which specialises in baking traditional Welsh recipes by hand, won the “Best medium size business carbon reduction plan” award as part of a Business Wales programme designed to help Welsh businesses achieve net zero.

The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme Carbon Emission Reduction Programme has seen eight businesses participate in a three-month immersive programme, partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Tan Y Castell’s award-winning products – which include Welsh cakes, shortbread and bara brith – are available from most major supermarkets, with other customers including national wholesalers, county councils, rail companies, food service providers, airports, hotels, and high-end motor companies.

The company joined seven other businesses that received intensive support to help measure their baseline carbon emissions and develop emission reduction plans to achieve net zero by 2050. This support included specialist workshops, a dedicated Masters student intern placed in each business and specialist coaching from leading sustainability experts.

The Carbon Emission Reduction Pilot Programme Awards took place on Tuesday, March 14, to celebrate the achievements of the businesses participating in the programme. An independent panel of sustainability experts judged the awards, chaired by Jonny Tench, the private sector lead advisor for the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales.

Presenters at the awards included Robert Lloyd-Griffiths OBE, Chair of Business Wales Task and Finish Group and Director for the ICAEW in Wales, and Dr Fern Davies, Senior Lecturer in strategy and corporate social responsibility, and the Sustainability Lead for Swansea University School of Management.

Commenting on their award win, Vanessa Mear, Head of Human Resources at Tan Y Castell, said: “As a small business, we wanted to reduce carbon emissions but needed support to develop a realistic and detailed plan. This programme was hugely helpful and designed to help businesses like ours meet the challenge ahead. The workshops were helpful and informative and having a mentor working with us kept us focused on our goals. Most importantly, having an intern working with us was brilliant, as it provided us with additional capacity and the specialist knowledge we needed to benchmark our emissions.”

Richard Morris, Programme Director for the Accelerated Growth Programme, said: “We have been blown away by the commitment our Carbon Emission Reduction Programme participants have shown over the last three months. We have packed an enormous amount into a short time and have been so impressed by the dedication and tenacity of the companies in developing their ambitious carbon reduction plans.”

The Carbon Emission Reduction Programme was launched to support the Welsh Government’s Net Zero Wales Plan, which outlines the commitment to achieving net zero and a greener, stronger, fairer Wales.

Chair of Judges, Jonny Tench, commented: “Inspired by the Well-Being of Future Generations of Wales Act, these businesses are joining many others across Wales in making the nation a better place to live and work. Welsh Government has ambitious plans for Wales to become net zero by 2050, and businesses have a crucial role to play if we are to meet that ambition.

“We were so impressed by the commitment and drive all businesses have shown in developing their ambitious carbon reduction plans. We wish to congratulate the deserving winners and recognise the achievements of all eight companies who completed the programme. We look forward to seeing how they progress against their plans and working with Business Wales to share the valuable lessons from this programme more widely.”

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