THIRTY years on from the Satanic Verses book burning in Bradford, a community leader has said he couldn't see a similar protest erupting today.

The BBC are screening a programme tonight about the furore which was caused by the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel in 1988.

And they are also running a podcast series to mark the anniversary called Fatwa about the consequences of the book which created a divide between those who considered it blasphemous and called for it to be banned, and those defending it as an expression of freedom of speech.

Protests, which began in the north of England, soon spread across the UK and to the rest of the Islamic world, culminating in February 1989 with Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issuing a fatwa - a death sentence on the writer.

But Ishtiaq Ahmed, business officer for the Bradford Council of Mosques, said that society had moved on.

He said: "We did what we needed to do to have our concerns registered in the public domain.

"The Muslim community has evolved in terms of political participation and is more integrated in British society which is hopefully more sensitive to Muslims and, particularly in writing about Muslims, more understanding.

"In terms of our struggle for equality and values recognised, it is an iconic milestone. In terms of a wider society, it is an important event in Bradford.

"Bradford is a place we feel positive about. I have five children and eight grandchildren, Bradford is our home and in our blood.

"There is a different mindset to the 1980s when we trying to decide whether we belong here."

He said back in the 80s in the Muslim struggle for social justice, people got pushed against a wall of silence and when that happened they tended to go to extremes.

"People have moved on from that."

He said that the fact that a third of Bradford Council members were of Muslim faith, there have been several Lord Mayors and the city now had two MPs of Muslim heritage meant that things had moved on.

"The dynamics of power changed.

"We are the custodians of the efforts and struggles made through the 80s. I always say to my children that they should not take the struggles of our generation lightly."

But he said there were still things to sort out.

He said: "We as a society are still evolving and trying to anticipate the challenges in front of Bradford re demographics and social integration. Are we getting the best out of our children? The quest for social justice is still relevant. Bradford is well placed to meet the challenges head on.

"Out community spirit prevents us from shying away from a challenge."

  • The Satanic Verses: 30 Years On is on BBC2 tonight at 9pm