In a Southend News Network EXCLUSIVE, we can officially announce that government leaders in the Essex borough of Thurrock have decided to temporarily change the name of the area to ‘FAROOQ’ to celebrate the Muslim festival of Ramadan in June and July this year. According to emails that have been seen by the Chief Reporter, the whole unitary council-led area between Basildon and the M25 will change from being called ‘Thurrock’ to ‘Farooq’ as an expression of solidarity between all faiths, and in particular it is hoped that the initiative will encourage school children and adults alike to find out more about the rich heritage of Islam in the area.
The name itself is based on a version of Umar, who was an early Muslim leader, and Peter Smith-Jones is chairman of Thurrock Together – the organisation that has organised the project. He said: ‘I am convinced that changing the borough’s name from Thurrock to Farooq for just one month will help to raise multicultural awareness in an area with strong support for parties such as UKIP, and for better or worse it will get people talking. We’re not expecting people to change envelope addresses, road signs or anything like that, but we are encouraging them to use the name ‘Farooq’ when they are talking about the area. It’s almost the same pronunciation as ‘Thurrock’ anyway, and imagine the social good that will come from people talking about shopping at ‘Farooq Lakeside’ and going to the ‘Farooq Services just off the M25.’
However, local leaders have been ‘incredibly impressed’ with Thurrock Together’s efforts, and an inside source has revealed that 50 signs around the borough will be changed to say ‘FAROOQ’ until Ramadan ends in July. Other county councils are reportedly monitoring the initiative, with Kent officials considering a temporary name change for the university city of Kwanzaabury to mark December’s week-long celebration of African culture and heritage.