Violence was a way of life on the south side of Glasgow and simply straying on to a neighbouring gang's territory was enough to spark off a "pangaa'', which is Punjabi for a scrap according to Imran Yaqub.

As a teenager Yaqub was in the Young Shields, one of the most notorious gangs in Pollokshields. "Young Shields followed trouble, rather than trouble following Young Shields, " he said.

Known then to his fellow gang members as Minta, he was involved in countless territorial battles with other Asian gangs, was stabbed in the leg and finally landed in prison on an attempted murder charge.

Now 25, he has turned his back on gang violence, has married and is rediscovering his faith.

He remembers Pollokshields as a sharply-divided community where the white and Asian populations lived separate lives. "The only time you mix in with white people is at work. Apart from that, you don't see one another.

"In Pollokshields the doctors, dentists, accountants are all Asian. You eat and shop at Asian businesses. Unless you go to the city centre you will not interact with a Scottish person."

Most of his fights were with other Asian gangs. Whether it was the Glasgow or Edinburgh Mela (multi-cultural arts festival), an Asian club night or a football tournament, trouble was inevitable.

"Every time there was a gathering of Asians, especially males from different parts of the city in one place, it would kick off, " said Yaqub. "Looking back now, we would fight for the most stupid and silliest reasons. It could be because someone had given you a strange look or over what someone had said to you on the phone a few weeks before."

Everyone carried a weapon, and Yaqub was stabbed once during a fight outside a nightclub. However, it was an incident in January 2003 that changed his life. Driving with some friends, he was confronted by a rival Asian gang member who pulled out a gun. He said he had no choice but to drive towards him. He was charged with attempted murder and sentenced to five years, but released after serving half his sentence.

Asian gangs have been a fixture of Glasgow life since the early 1960s.

The first gang was formed in the Gorbals to defend the newly-arrived immigrants, then mostly from the Pakistani Punjab.

As more immigrants arrived and the community spread, more gangs emerged in Pollokshields, Govanhill, Woodlands and along Paisley Road West.

Adeel Ibrahim, a member of the Islamic Society of Britain, visits Muslim inmates in young offenders' institutions.

He said: "Many come from dysfunctional families and have no aspirations. I don't think anyone has sat down with them and asked them what they want to do in life.

"Their role models are people who are involved in drugs and who drive around in fancy cars. It is easy money, and they are attracted to such a lifestyle."

Khalid, from the west end of Glasgow, was beaten during a fight with Asian gang members. A hatchet, glass bottles and a wheel brace were used as weapons in the fight, which happened on a city street in daylight.

He fell awkwardly, tearing his cruciate ligament, and as he lay in the street a bottle was smashed over his head and he was attacked with the wheel brace.

Now a youth worker, he tries to deter others from joining gangs.

He said: "My message to the kids is that they need to get a job or an education. I don't want them to waste their lives hanging around the streets; it is no life."

Nevertheless, Umar Ansari, 27, believes the Pollokshields gang problem has eased in recent years.

"Pollokshields has had a problem with gangs in the past. Some of the youngsters are very insular. The only time some of them have travelled out of the area has been for a fight, but the situation has changed considerably, " he said.

Mr Ansari co-ordinates youth work at the Youth Counselling Service Agency (YCSA) in Pollokshields, an organisation which he thinks is changing attitudes.

He said: "Many young people who could have been dragged into the gang culture now have the option to come into the YCSA and spend time in a safe and secure environment. It is better for them to be with us than on the streets."

Imran Azam is a journalist with The iWitness, Scotland's only Muslim newspaper