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From Sylhet to London, find out how the Bangladeshi community has made its mark on the capital. Do you know where Bangla Town is?
The Bangladeshi community is thriving in the capital with third generation Bangladeshis on their way to establishing themselves in the mainstream of London commerce and politics.
Bangladeshis in London
East Pakistan became the independent republic of Bangladesh in 1971
Nearly all Bangladeshis are Sunni Muslims
Brick Lane is the heart of the London Bangladeshi community
There are well over 150,000 Bangladeshi people living in London and the south east of England, and most of them come from the Sylhet region - a place of emerald green rice fields and dense tea gardens on the country’s eastern border.
Sylheti people are a distinct ethnic group within Bangladesh and Syhlet is famous for the Muslim saint, Hazrat Shah Jalal, the great torchbearer of Islam.
The Bangladesh flag
Bangladesh went through a series of political upheavals, starting with the end of British India in 1947, a spell as East Pakistan and a battle against West Pakistan for independence in 1971. East Pakistan became the independent republic of Bangladesh in 1971 after this political conflict with West Pakistan.
Many Bangladeshi men emigrated to London in search of employment during the 1950s and 1960s and many more Sylhetis came to London in the 1970s in search of stability and work following the above mentioned conflict with West Pakistan. The majority of them settled in Tower Hamlets, particularly around Spitalfields.
Bangladeshi girls, Brick Lane Festival
This caused many Sylhetis to come to London, in search of stability and work. In the 1970s changes in immigration laws encouraged Bangladeshis to come to the UK. Job opportunities in London were initially limited to low paid, unskilled jobs in small factories and the textile trade, but as the restaurant business took off, some Sylhetis opened cafes. From these small beginnings, a network of Bangladeshi restaurants, shops and banks became established in Brick Lane and the surrounding area.
The influence of Bangladeshi culture can clearly be seen across the capital in Tower Hamlets, Camden, Westminster and Newham.
Brick Lane is a resturant hotspot
Brick Lane is the heart of the community and is known colloquially as "Banglatown". It has become a favourite food haunt for Londoners with scores of Balti and curry houses and a vibrant market.
Bangladeshis, both first, second and third generation, are now well established in East End life. They are contributing to political and social life more generally, with many elected to the local councils in Tower Hamlets and Newham. The annual Baishaki Mela, which takes place in Weavers Fields every May, and the Kobi Nazrul Centre (named after one of Bangladesh's most celebrated poets), are now established in the cultural scene of East London.
last updated: 16/05/2008 at 12:21