UoB thinkAll 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.

Aside from the Equality Act, a significant amount of the legislation and policy initiatives have been aligned with responses to anti-terror and security issues. Given the impact of 9/11, 7/7 and numerous ‘terror raids’, many perceive current counter-terrorist policy agendas, such as Preventing Violent Extremism, as being directed primarily at Muslim communities. Not only has this reinforced some of the fears and mistrust about Muslims and Islam that already existed in some parts of society but so too has it increased feelings of anger and alienation within some Muslim communities also. As fears and anxieties continue to grow, not only are tensions created between faith groups – some of whom feel that they are being overlooked and excluded – but so too are tensions evident in wider society, where the growth of the far-right and its openly anti-Islamic campaigns have begun to find a more receptive audience.

This symposium brings together key policymakers, practitioners and thinkers on the subject of Islamophobia and religious discrimination to explore some of the critical questions including: to what extent is the legislation and policies working? Are Islamophobia and other forms of religiously-based discrimination on the increase? What has been the impact of policies such as Preventing Violent Extremism on Muslim and non-Muslim communities as well as other faith communities? Is British society increasingly Islamophobic and anti-religion?

The symposium is aimed at academics, policy makers and practitioners as well as students, activists and anyone else interested in the subject matter. Not only will it allow participants an opportunity to hear a range of perspectives from recently published experts in the field to those shaping and developing today’s policies but so too will they be able to participate in an open discussion.

If you or a colleague would like to attend this seminar please contact Chris Allen at:


by 30 November 2009. Please note that places are free but strictly limited so early booking is advised. We will operate a waiting list system if over-subscribed. A fee of £10 will be charged to those who fail to attend without notifying us.

Event Programme

2.00 Welcome Dr Chris Allen, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham

2.10 Robin Richardson, Director INSTED and original member of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia

2.25 Maqsood Ahmed OBE, Senior Advisor on Muslim Communities, Communities and Local Government

2:40 Sukhvinder Singh, Policy Lead Religion or Belief, Equality & Human Rights Commission

2:55 Rt Hon Mark Pritchard MP, Conservative Party Member for Parliament for Wrekin

3.10 Dr Basia Spalek, Institute of Applied Social Studies, University of Birmingham

3.25 Tea and cakes

3:40 Panel discussion including questions and answers with speakers and Rev Dr John Hall, Chair of West Midlands Faiths Forum and Zubeda Limbada, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police

4.50 Closing Remarks, Dr Chris Allen, Institute of Applied Social Studies, the University of Birmingham

5:00 Close


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