Article: The Conservatives, Christianity and ‘Doing God’ at Easter (Huffington Post)

clovellyThis article was first published in the Huffington Post yesterday (15th April 2014). To read the original article, click here.

The Conservatives, Christianity and ‘Doing God’ at Easter

The Conservatives have been ‘doing god’ of late.

Whilst Eric Pickles told ‘militant atheists’ that Britain is a Christian nation so “get over it”, David Cameron has been speaking about his Christian faith on three separate occasions.

Not only did Cameron claim at his ‘Easter reception’ that “Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago…I just want to see more of it” (everyone knows Jesus was a socialist – acknowledge it Dave) but in his YouTube ‘Easter message’ (surely the sole preserve of Popes and Archbishops?) he claimed:

“Easter is not just a time for Christians across our country to reflect, but a time for our whole country to reflect on what Christianity brings to Britain”

When exactly did those feet walk upon England’s pastures green?

My first problem is that unlike Pickles, I don’t believe today’s Britain is a ‘Christian country’.

Without doubt, Britain is a country with a strong Christian heritage apparent today in the established church and monarchy as also a wide range of civic and state functions and events. Whilst it is right to value this heritage – to acknowledge its lasting influence on ‘our’ values, way of life and more – it’s also necessary to acknowledge that heritages and traditions are far from static and unchanging. In the process of time, not only do some change but so too do they become obsolete and eventually disappear.

Christianity is far from disappearing in today’s Britain however. But as Census data shows, the number of British people who identify as ‘Christian’ decreased from 72% in 2001 to 59.5% in 2011.

Decrease however rather than disappearance.

To continue reading, click here.

BBC Radio WM Interview: Chatting about Muslims & integration in BIrmingham

BIRMINGHAMLast Saturday (5th April 2014) I was invited to speak to Iain Lee about Muslims and integration in Birmingham for his BBC Radio WM show.

Whilst the interview in itself wasn’t necessarily anything great, it did become something a little more bizarre than normal in that I did the interview from Sweden, was asked how many Muslim friends I had and then ended it all by offering a weather update from Vaarberg.

You can listen by clicking here (the interview starts from around 50:40).

University News: Government Workshop with Baroness Warsi

warsi-croppedFollowing on from participating in Baroness Warsi’s ‘Integration Roadshow’ in Birmingham last week, the University of Birmingham has covered the event in its news output.

Pasted below is a copy of the article – if you prefer to read it on the University website, you can do so by clicking here.

Government Workshop with Baroness Warsi

A number of students from the ‘Doing or Not Doing God: religion, policy and politics’ third year Social Policy undergraduate module were given the opportunity to meet and hear Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – Senior Minister of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities at the Department for Communities and Local Government – speak about the role and relevance of different religious communities in the city of Birmingham.

Attending her ‘Integration Roadshow’, the Birmingham event was one of a number of similar events that are taking place across different towns and cities during March and April this year.

Responding to questions about such diverse issues as religious slaughter, female genital mutilation, Islamophobia, religious education and same-sex marriage, the event gave students the chance to put their learning into practice and hear a range of different perspectives on topics they themselves had been considering and debating as part of the module.

Providing expertise on the topics of Islamophobia and religious communities in today’s Birmingham, IASS’s Chris Allen sat alongside Baroness Warsi as a panel member throughout the roadshow.

After the event, students were given time to meet and chat with Baroness Warsi informally.

Afterwards, the students (BA Social Policy, 3rd Year) were keen to share their views on the event.

Laura Hackett said “I thought the event was very interesting…I thought she answered all the questions really well”.

Michael Sidwell agreed: “The event was really, really good…was great to come along and hear a politician speak to us in the way she did”.

Saira Bahnu added, “She was really engaging…and the best part is that we had a selfie with her at the end”.

“Maybe We Are Hated” Mentioned on Radio 4′s Woman’s Hour

East-Ham-2On Wednesday this week, BBC Radio 4′s “Woman’s Hour” programme made (the slightest) reference to the report I co-wrote in collaboration with Tell MAMA about the experience of Muslim women victims of Islamophobia.

To listen to the programme – which focuses on British Muslim women and features both Sara Khan from Inspire and Salma Yaqoob – click here.

To read the report, click here.

An interesting review of the programme from the Guardian can be read by clicking here.

Stunning Images of Orthodox Jews

purimOver the past week or so, I’ve come across two really stunning sets of images of Orthodox Jews.

The first were published by the Huffington Post and focus on the marriage of Rivka Hannah to Aharon Krois in the Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem, Israel. They can be found by clicking here.

The second – an example accompanies this post – are from a Jewish website that translates as ‘What’s News?’ (apologies if I’ve got this wrong). This set of amazing images focus on the Jewish festival of Purim. Whilst some were taken in the United States, the ones I found particularly interesting were again from the Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem. You can see all of them by clicking here.

Enjoy !

Talk: Visible Muslim Women Victims of Anti-Muslim Hate – Launch Speech from the Houses of Parliament

Whilst it’s from last November, I thought that some might still be interested in listening to my launch speech from the Houses of Parliament when we launched the report with Tell MAMA into the experience of visible Muslim women victims of anti-Muslim hate.

If you’re looking for the report, you can view it by clicking here.

Believing in the City: Islamophobia in Birmingham and the West Midlands

Birmingham-City-Centre2I had the pleasure today of presenting some of my research findings to students from the University of Birmingham’s Theology department as part of the ‘Believing in the City’ programme. Talking about Islamophobia, it was great to see them interested and engaged about the way in which Islamophobia manifests itself differently in the city of Birmingham from those areas surrounding the city, the Black Country in particular.

As part of this, I agreed to post some links to research undertaken that the students themselves might be interested in. Here they are – I hope you find them interesting:

Continue reading

| writes about Islamophobia, religion, culture, politics & society | Millwall fan | Coke & coffee addict | nice bloke | lecturer | Bermondsey born, Brum based |

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