A quick post to announce the publication of my new article, “Passing the Dinner Table Test Retrospective and Prospective Approaches to Tackling Islamophobia in Britain”. As it is ‘open access’, despite being published in a peer reviewed academic journal – SAGE Open – you can still download a pdf of the article for free. To do so, click here.
If you want to know what the article is about before downloading, I’ve pasted the abstract below:
“Through establishing the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia and Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred, the Coalition government has afforded significance to Islamophobia. Focusing on definition, evidence, and politics, this article considers British governmental policy approaches to tackling Islamophobia over the past 15 years. Tracing religiously based discrimination from the 1980s to the publication of the Runnymede Trust’s 1997 groundbreaking report into Islamophobia, this article explores how the New Labour government sought primarily to address Islamophobia through a broadening of the equalities framework. Against a backdrop of 9/11 and 7/7, a concurrent security and anti-terror agenda had detrimental impacts. Under the Coalition, there has been a marked change. Considering recent developments and initiatives, the Coalition has seemingly rejected Islamophobia as an issue of equalities preferring approaches more akin to tackling Anti-Semitism. In conclusion, definition, evidence, and politics are revisited to offer a prospective for future British governmental policy.”
So why ‘Part 3′…? Well, I guess this is an extension of two blog posts I wrote back in 2008. So if you’re interested, you can read Part 1 and/or Part 2 here. Essentially, the blog posts focused on how Easter as a religious or spiritual festival had seemed to have completely disappeared, almost without it even being noticed.
I’m not the only one to think like this. An editorial in last week’s The Spectator noted much the same albeit from a seemingly much more ‘Christian’ point of view. For The Spectator though:
“Unlike Christmas, [Easter is] a story that doesn’t lend itself to much commercial fuss: no kings or presents. Easter is a story of sacrifice, torture, abandonment and death — and, through it all, triumph over that death. Even in the 21st century; despite all the chocolate eggs, Easter gives us pause.”
To be honest, I’m not sure that Easter gives many of us “pause”, a phrase that in itself sounds somewhat archaic.
“Christmas is ruined”
Noting that teenagers have a tendency to be over-dramatic, I didn’t panic. When she had calmed down, I asked her why it was ruined.
“Because our RS teacher told me that basically none of the Christmas story happened the way I thought it had…!”
She followed this up by non-ironically asking:
“Can you believe it…?”
This reminded me of an article I wrote a few years ago about people’s understanding of the Christmas Story. In it, I asked how many people did not know that the ‘Christmas Story’ in the New Testament of the Bible is neither complete nor consistent across the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)?
It’s funny what things we seem to take on board without question as indeed those things also that we seem to think are ‘made up’. Take for instance today and the buzz about the potential end of the world as predicted by the Mayans however many years ago. Really, was it ever going to happen today? Probably not, but still – for some at least – there seems to be a sense of disappointment that ‘something’ didn’t happen. Remember Y2K anyone?
Whilst we seem to have a penchant for believing in our impending doom, whether a meteor colliding with the earth, a ‘Contagion-like’ plague killing us off or a zombie apocalypse being imminent, we don’t seem to apply the same rules to these as we do ‘religion’.
Having said that, there are some things that we seem to accept without question. Take for instance Christmas Day itself. According to Boney M, ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was born on Christmas Day. And as we know, that’s 25th December isn’t it?
In all honesty, probably not.
Research undertaken by scientists from a few years ago suggested that ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ was more likely to have been born on June 17th. As the Daily Mail reported it at the time:
“It may not be too late to send the presents back…”
Despite that, we don’t seem to have a campaign to have Christmas Day changed, especially not from the more zealous atheists and humanists who normally try and get everything changed that’s even tenuously religious. In fact, why don’t the atheists and humanists start a campaign to get Christmas re-branded as ‘Winterval’? Maybe they remember the Birmingham City Council farce from 1997. To be fair, no-one needs that all over again !
According to the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke, Caesar Augustus had issued a decree that a census should be undertaken across the entire Roman Empire. It was against this backdrop that Mary and Joseph made the journey to Bethlehem: most will know what happened next.
The census at the time of Caesar Augustus would have been quite different to those that take place today. Instead of trying to keep track of adult males fit for military service, today’s census provide politicians, policymakers and academics – as well as many others – with information and data about the many and varied attributes of the population.
In contemporary Britain, we have a census every ten years. Data from the most recent – the Census 2011 – was released earlier this week and what it presents is clear evidence that the ethnic and religious make-up of Britain in the twenty-first century is changing. But whilst Britain is changing, are we clear about how and what impact it will have?
For those who are unaware, the Great British Community is a Link Up UK initiative that is built around a community of individuals that, as the website says, have together:
“brought about some of the greatest innovations in recent years. We’ve created computers, developed jet engines, our music is celebrated around the world, we’ve built incredible and award winning buildings, we’ve won Olympic medals, we’ve even won the Ashes. And many of these achievements and so much of what we consider to be quintessentially British have come about as a result of the different communities that make up Britain today.”
It goes on to add that despite this and Britain being famed for its tolerance, we still have problems around diversity and difference. As a community therefore, the Great British Community is working towards bringing about change by exploring the extent to which Britain’s diversity is contributing to the way we live today. To read more about the Community, visit the website here.