I am very proud to have been featured in the University of Birmingham’s latest advertising campaign which celebrates the impact of the research we’re doing here in Birmingham. Entitled, “We Are Birmingham” the campaign celebrates how the University has been “pushing boundaries to create impact locally, nationally and internationally for more than a century”.
My inclusion focuses on the impact my research into Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and other forms of discrimination has had and hopefully, will continue to do so.This is of course extremely flattering and something that is a great honour for me.
As well as being featured collectively on the University’s website – view here – the campaign is also being promoted via a series of individually focused advertisements on the London Underground, mainline train services and across a range of different locations in London and the South East as well as in Birmingham and the West Midlands. My advertisements – currently on Great Western trains – is being promoted by the strapline:
“We are throwing the spotlight on the realities of religious discrimination”
And in support this, I am really excited to confirm that the College of Social Sciences here at the University has recently made a firm commitment to fund an exciting and timely project into religious discrimination…but more of that in the coming weeks.
Given that the campaign states that “From our world-class expert academics to our outstanding students – we inspire success, change lives and transform society” then if my research is able to inspire just one person, I’d be very happy…
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have today published the first edition of its ‘Religion or Belief E-Newsletter’. Included in this is a short review of the Islamophobia and religious discrimination symposium held at the University of Birmingham last December. The review is pasted below:
Islamophobia & Religious Discrimination: new perspectives, policies and practices
A symposium in December at the University of Birmingham – hosted by the Institute of Applied Social Studies (IASS) – brought together key individuals from the Department of Communities & Local Government, the Equality & Human Rights Commission, the Houses of Parliament, Birmingham City Council and the University of Birmingham amongst others, to consider the extent to which religious discrimination was on the rise and whether the current legislation and policies were working.
Why do we need an event that focuses on Islamophobia and religious discrimination when, as Alistair Campbell once famously remarked to Tony Blair, as a nation “We don’t do God”.
For a nation that doesn’t ‘do God’, reading or watching the news may suggest otherwise. A glance back at 2009 might remind you of a number of different stories that had a relevance to religion or belief:
The British National Party (BNP) run a European election campaign under the slogan “What would Jesus do?” culminating in them winning two seats in the European parliament after almost a decade of running openly anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim campaigns
Anjem Choudhury and his Islam4UK group campaigning against British troops returning from Afghanistan
In a year when the British National Party (BNP) won two seats in the European parliament, the English Defence League have marched in protest against the ‘Islamification’ of Britain in various towns and cities, and more recently, there has been a referendum in Switzerland to ban minarets, the University of Birmingham this week hosts a national conference that explores the timely issue of Islamophobia and religious discrimination (9th December 2009).
Bringing together key individuals from the Department of Communities & Local Government (CLG), the Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Houses of Parliament, Birmingham City Council and the University of Birmingham amongst others, the conference – “Islamophobia & Religious Discrimination: new perspectives, policies and practices”  – will consider the extent to which religious discrimination is on the rise and whether the legislation and policies that seek to address these are indeed working.
Dr Chris Allen  from the Institute of Applied Social Studies (IASS) and who convened the event says:
“Despite the fact that there are a growing number of British people choosing to identify themselves in terms of their religion and greater recognition is being afforded to religion and faith in the public and political spaces, research continues to suggest that Islamophobia and other forms of religious discrimination are on the rise – not just here in Britain but elsewhere in Europe too. People are finding it increasingly acceptable and ‘normal’ to be prejudiced and discriminatory about others on the basis of religion or belief.
Sometimes through fear and suspicion, sometimes because of ignorance and a lack of understanding, if left unchecked, these could easily become hostilities and hatreds that result in tensions, unrest and harm between different communities and religions. So if we want to ensure the future wellbeing of a cohesive multicultural, multi-faith Britain, it is vital that we begin to discuss these issues now.”
All readers of this blog are invited to the event, “Islamophobia & Religious Discrimination: new perspectives, policies and practices”. Details as follows. If you are intending coming along to the event, please ensure that you register beforehand – scroll down for details:
Wednesday, 09 December 2009
14:00 – 17:00
G15 (Main Lecture Theatre), Muirhead Tower, Main Campus, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT
More than a decade ago, the Runnymede Trust report Islamophobia: a challenge for us all noted that Islamophobia had reached previously unprecedented levels. Shortly after, a Home Office report suggested that other forms of religiously-based discrimination was also on the increase. Since then, a whole raft of legislation has been introduced in an attempt to address this issue. Most recently, the Equality Act 2006 introduced a ‘religion or belief’ strand of equalities protection that has regularly made the headlines through a number of high profile cases, for example where a Christian registrar asked to be excluded from performing same-sex civil registrations.