My new article titled “A Post-Election Call to Arms Against Simplism” has today been published on the Huffington Post website. A response to how annoyed I’ve become as a result of everything being presented in overly simplistic frames, the full article can be found by clicking here.
A Post-Election Call to Arms Against Simplism
Do you remember when George W Bush declared that “You’re either with us or against us”?
Stressing there could be no neutrality in the ‘war on terror’, not only did his statement effectively shut down any opportunity for challenge but so too did he mask an extremely complex and dangerous situation behind a façade of overt simplism. Impressive.
In the intervening years, it seems that a whole host of other issues have been similarly masked; a façade of simplism now appearing to be part and parcel of much of our everyday understanding.
This has been especially pronounced since last week’s General Election. Having gained a majority of MPs in Parliament – significantly different to a majority of votes from those eligible to do so – the past week has been marked by ‘no longer shy’ and increasingly belligerent Tory supporters falling over themselves to tell those of us on the left to just put up and shut up. For some on social media, merely expressing disappointment at Labour’s capitulation is evidence that we’re enemies of democracy. Some even inferred that Labour voters need to accept collective responsibility for the idiot who decided to deface the Women of World War II memorial in Whitehall.
Posted below is a short video of the participants from the “You Talk, They Listen Debate on Immigration” I participated in at the University of Birmingham on 27th April 2015.
A short write up from the Guardian about the debate can also be found by clicking here.
Following the news from Dudley at the weekend, I was invited to contribute a piece to The Conversation that draws upon my research surrounding the Dudley ‘super-mosque’.
To read the article in full, click here. Alternatively, the first few paragraphs are pasted below:
Afzal Amin and the long, sad tale of the Dudley ‘super mosque’
Afzal Amin, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dudley North, has resigned as parliamentary candidate after apparently being caught colluding with the far-right in a bizarre plot to hold a fake protest about a mosque.
The shadow cast by the Dudley “super mosque” (as its opponents routinely describe it) has loomed large over the Black Country town since 2001, despite the fact that the mosque doesn’t actually exist. In fact the mosque – dubbed the Pride of Dudley by the Dudley Muslim Association – is no nearer being built than it was at the turn of the century. Anyone passing the site then and today will note very little difference.
Yet as my research has repeatedly shown, confrontations over the mosque have had a destructive impact on Dudley. In particular it has divided the local political landscape, prompting battles between the far-right and local councillors. Now it seems this non-existent building has touched the very heart of the national political mainstream.
Amin stands accused of trying to choreograph a fake demonstration against the mosque. To do it, he sought the help of the far-right group the English Defence League, including its former leader Tommy Robinson.
According to secretly taped conversations published by The Mail on Sunday, Amin wanted the EDL to announce plans for a march in Dudley on May 2 2015 – the last Saturday before the election.
To continue reading, click here.
An article I had published last year in the Social Sciences Directory is now available to download and read for free by clicking here.
If you’d prefer to read the abstract first, it’s pasted below:
The creation of the National Muslims Women’s Advisory Group (NMWAG) in 2008 by Britain’s New Labour Government was part of a strategy which sought to engage different levels of Muslim communities beneath an overarching focus on reducing ‘Islamic extremism’. To do so however, Government acknowledged that it would need to support Muslim women to overcome some of the constraints it believed were placed on Muslim women in contemporary Britain. Deeming theology and religious interpretation to be one of those constraints, Government saw the need to empower Muslim women to ‘influence and challenge’ religious and theological discourses as a priority. This article therefore offers a case study on a project that was commissioned by Government that sought to empower Muslim women to ‘influence and challenge’ theological interpretations in collaboration with the NMWAG. Having gained unprecedented access to the NMWAG, its activities and engagement with Government, this article presents previously unpublished findings from that project to focus on two key themes: Muslim women, their identity and position; and theology, leadership and the participation of women. Having explored these in detail, this article concludes by critically reflecting on the way in which Government engaged and interacted with Muslim women, the role and relative success of the NMWAG and, most importantly, the extent to which the NMWAG was able to ‘influence and challenge’ interpretations of Islamic theology.
Click here to download.
Below are two versions of my recent public lecture on behalf of the Equality & Human Rights Commission (Wales) and Cardiff University from the 3rd March 2015. The lecture was titled, “Approaching Islamophobia from a human rights perspective” and was covered by BBC News (here).
Last week I was approached by the typically excellent Vice magazine to ask whether I might be interested in working with them on a piece that sought to bust various myths about the likelihood of Islamists “taking over” Britain. To my better judgment – or so I thought at the time – I agreed. Any fears I had were quickly allayed when just over a day later, the following brilliantly irreverent article emerged – click here to read.
I hope you enjoy it…!
We Asked an Expert How Islamists Could Actually Take Over the UK
Earlier this week, Fox News told the world that, in the UK, there are “actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in”. Because that wasn’t enough new information, “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson went on to describe all those real places in London where “there are actually Muslim religious police that actually beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to Muslim – religious Muslim – attire”.
Emerson has since apologised for his “terrible error”, but his admission of ignorance, while totally necessary, is only one small battle won in the war against stupid people getting things wrong about Islam. Because while Steve might have realised the error of his ways, there are still lots – as in, a really depressing amount – of far-right British idiots who actually believe the UK is on its way to becoming a Sharia state.
Fully grown men and women – the same people who crash book groups with their EDL mates because they think Russell Brand will be there – are genuinely worried that Britain will become a Muslim majority. And once that happens they believe that Britain will end up looking a bit like Kobane does now.
This seems quite unlikely, but to put the matter to rest once and for all, I got in touch with an expert – Dr Chris Allen, Programme Director for Policy, Politics and Economics at the University of Birmingham and author of the book Islamophobia – and asked him some questions.
To continue reading, click here.
“A Critical Analysis of Britain’s Living, Dead and Zombie Multiculturalism: From 7/7 to the London 2012 Olympic Games” is my latest open access publication in the journal, Social Sciences. Published just a few days before Christmas, I thought I’d hold it back until now so it didn’t get lost.
To read the article – in full and for free – click here.
To whet your appetite, the abstract is posted below:
A day after the London 2012 Bid Committee succeeded in bringing the Olympic Games to Britain using the slogan “the world in one city”, a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks occurred across London (7/7). In one day, Britain’s somewhat beleaguered multiculturalism went from prompting national celebrations to being decried as “dead” by politicians and commentators alike. Against a backdrop of the Committee’s success in July 2005 through to the end of the Games themselves in August 2012, this article analyses the social and political discourses and debates that ensued in relation to Britain’s multiculturalism. Exploring the metamorphosis of these discourses—using the analogous language of being alive, dead and zombie—this article reflects on the impact and legacy of the London Games on future understandings of multiculturalism. In doing so, this article argues that the everyday lived variety of multiculturalism will always be distinct and different from the political discourses appropriated—or rejected—by political actors.
To read the article in full, click here.