I’ve never been a massive fan of Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. But when she ignorantly waded into the racism in football debate last year with her ill-informed article in the Independent newspaper dated 23rd October 2012 and wrote that Millwall fans “still behave like animals when they watch black players”, my liking of her waned even further. Not only were the comments unfounded but so too were they misdirected: it was a handful of overpaid, egotistical players who were being racist, not the fans.
It wasn’t only me who was incensed by this totally misguided article, but so too were Millwall Football Club, numerous supporters, as also a number of different equalities and anti-racism organisations. These included Lord Herman Ouseley, a lifelong Millwall supporter and founder and Chair of Kick it Out, the football equality organisation. Because of this, the Press Complaints Commission agreed to investigate the article further.
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?
A quick post to direct people to an article I’ve just had published on the Concilio CIC website. You can read the article by clicking here.
For those of you who don’t know, Concilio CIC describes itself as “a One Stop Information Source on the Activities of Far Right Groups in the United Kingdom”. But that doesn’t really do it justice.
Concilio CIC is a consortium whose partners include social researchers and academics, civil society organisations, and various community activists and practitioners who are undertaking work on Far Right extremist groups and raising awareness of their activities. The consortium looks at how faith-based symbolism and community engagement is being used by Far Right groups to cause divides between faith communities, as well as how international networks such as the ‘Counter-Jihadist’ Network are making an impact here in the UK. If you want to know more about Concilio CIC, then you can visit their website by clicking here.
To whet your appetite, here’s the opening paragraph from the article:
“The atrocities committed by Anders Breivik in Norway last year shocked many. Motivated by an explicit hatred of Islam and a belief in the creeping ‘Islamification’ of Europe, Breivik’s justification for such heinous crimes were far from unique. In fact, much of Breivik’s rhetoric had clear resonance with many organisations, groups and individuals that identify with far-right and neo-Nazi ideologies”
To continue reading, click here.
You can read the article on the University website by clicking here.
The piece is also reproduced below:
This week as part of the ESRC’s Festival of Social Science 2011, I will be hosting the event, “Faith in the City: communities, regeneration, interaction”. The event sets out to explore the way in which faith inspires and influences people to live, work and act in the diverse, vibrant urban space that is today’s Birmingham. Despite Alastair Campbell stating the British “don’t do God”, the event is interesting to many.
Faith – whether one has it or not – is more important and topical today than it has been for decades. As the theology think-tank Theos recently noted, “religious identity is a feature of national and international affairs today in a way that was unexpected, indeed unimaginable, just twenty years ago”.
This is not to suggest that faith and religion are any less contentious or emotive than they have ever been, on the contrary. But what it does show is the timeliness and relevance of faith to Britain, and British people, in the 21st century.
Subjectively referencing the 2001 Census, an overwhelming majority of British people identify themselves as Christian (71.6%). These figures can however be misleading as there is a disparity between identification and practice with only about 2% of the population regularly attending church. Grace Davie describes this as ‘believing without belonging’. For her, the majority of Britons are increasingly drifting away from traditional institutional forms of religion to more personal forms of faith and spirituality.
However, identification remains. Last month’s Integrated Household Survey reaffirms that three Britons identify themselves as Christian for every one that does not. Perhaps surprisingly, this is also true amongst the young: 59% of 16-24 year-olds and 60% of under-16s identify themselves as being Christian.
Maybe this accounts for the reason that, since the turn of the century, more new churches than Starbucks have opened across the UK, more Britons believe in heaven now than they did in 1970, and the number of adult Christian baptisms is rising year-on-year. And even though overall church attendance remains in decline, that decline is slowing. Today, a third of all churches are reporting growth.
The event will explore the way in which faith inspires and influences people to live, work and act in Birmingham’s diverse urban spaces. Bringing together individuals from different faith communities and organisations with researchers from within the social sciences at the University of Birmingham to consider a range of timely and relevant issues, some of the highlights will include:
I have today published a short report – aimed primarily at those working at the community level – that brings together a range of different Muslim voices from across Birmingham and the West Midlands in an attempt to better understand and explain the riots and more so, the actions and response of Muslims in the city to them.
Entitled, ‘“We Live Together and Can Stay Together”: Muslim voices in the aftermath of the Birmingham riots’ I believe that the findings challenge some of the many negative perceptions that have become commonplace about Muslims and the religion of Islam in today’s society.
You can read the report for free by clicking here.
For those preferring a ‘taster’ before accessing the full report. I have reproduced the opening chapter – ‘Remarks’ – below: