Comment: Being United Is The Best Defence Against All Who Seek to Divide Us – Huffington Post

n-LONDON-AERIAL-628x314Following on from the tragic events in Westminster on Wednesday, I pulled together some of my thoughts for a blog article in the Huffington Post. The original piece can be viewed here.

Below the article is reproduced.

Being United Is The Best Defence Against All Who Seek to Divide Us

“Terrorists have a clear aim and that is to create discord, distrust and to create fear. The police stand with all communities in the UK and will take action against anyone who seeks to undermine society, especially where their crimes are motivated by hate”

These were the words of Mark Rowley, the national lead for Counter Terrorism Policing and the Acting Deputy Commissioner speaking at a press conference about eight hours after the tragic events that occurred in Westminster on Wednesday afternoon. Measured and calm, he went on to add:

“We must recognise now that our Muslim communities will feel anxious at this time given the past behaviour of the extreme right wing and we will continue to work with all community leaders in the coming days”

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RESEARCH: We Live Together & Can Stay Together – 2011 Report

Report CoverFollowing on from recent events and the scrutiny placed on Birmingham and its Muslim communities, I thought it might be worthwhile re-sharing the findings from some research I undertook in the city in the aftermath of the riots in 2011. Aside from asking about Muslim’s views about the riots and the causes of them, the research also asked about their feelings towards Birmingham as home as also their sense of belonging too.

Some of the things that the respondents said have particular resonance today. As one put it:

“Muslims are tired of being portrayed as something they are not. They are tired of all the lies and bad press. They love their country, they love the gentle nature of most of the British public, they just want to live a peaceful quiet existence”

And of course, the words of Tariq Jahan continue to ring true today:

“If you look around here, there are black, brown, white and yellow people, they are all my community. We live together and we can stay together”

You can download and read the report by clicking here.


Comment: فوز ترامب يعني ازدياد الإسلاموفوبيا – Huffington Post Arabi

huffpostarabilogo-2Here is a piece that was translated into Arabic that the Huffington Post Arabi republished. The original can be found here.

فوز ترامب يعني ازدياد الإسلاموفوبيا

منذ ظهور نتيجة الانتخابات الرئاسية الأميركية، شهدت أميركا ارتفاعاً حاداً في جرائم الإسلاموفوبيا.

على سبيل المثال، في مدينة آن آربور، اقترب رجل غريب من طالبة محجبة في جامعة ولاية ميشيغان، مهدداً بإشعال النار فيها إذا لم تخلع حجابها. وفي ولاية جورجيا، وجدت مدرسة مسلمة بمدرسة ثانوية رسالة من مجهول، كُتب فيها أن “حجابها لم يعُد مسموحاً به”. واقترحت الرسالة أن تخلع المدرسة حجابها ثم تستخدمه لشنق نفسها. وعلى نحو مشابه في ولاية أوهايو، هدد رجل امرأة مسلمة، بصحبتها أطفالها ووالداها المسنان، في أثناء توقف سيارتهم في إشارة مرورية. وبينما كان يصرخ بأقذع الشتائم في وجه العائلة المذعورة، قال الرجل للمرأة المسلمة إنها “لا تنتمي إلى هذه البلاد”. بطرقٍ عدة، ليس مفاجئاً أن ارتفاع معدل جرائم الكراهية المرتبطة بالإسلاموفوبيا جاء تزامناً مع ظهور دونالد ترامب في دور الرئيس المنتخب.

وبحسب مركز قانون الفقر الجنوبي، وهي منظمة غير هادفة للربح تتابع نشاط جماعات الكراهية وجرائم الكراهية، ظهر هذا الارتفاع المفاجئ في أكثر من 300 حادثة مسجلة من “ترهيب وتحرش تحركه الكراهية”. وحتى تصبح هذه الأرقام مفهومة في سياقها، تشير تقارير مركز SPLC إلى أن 300 حادثة هو عدد نموذجي لحوادث الإسلاموفوبيا المسجلة في 5 أو 6 أشهر، وليس في 6 أو 7 أيام. وفي بيان للمركز، كانت “حملة ترامب الانتخابية المفعمة بالكراهية” عاملاً محفزاً لهذا الارتفاع غير المسبوق.

خلال حملته الانتخابية الرئاسية، وجد المسلمون أنفسهم في مرمى ثورات ترامب أكثر من مرة. توعد ترامب مراراً بفحص مُشدد للمسلمين وتسجيل المعلومات الخاصة بهم في قاعدة بيانات وطنية، وإجبارهم على حمل بطاقات هوية خاصة، وتشديد إجراءات الرقابة على المساجد عبر البلاد.

وبالإضافة إلى استهدافه المسلمين ضمن حملة أوسع لقمع الهجرة، في ديسمبر/كانون الأول عام 2015، قال ترامب لمجموعة من مؤيديه، في Continue reading “Comment: فوز ترامب يعني ازدياد الإسلاموفوبيا – Huffington Post Arabi”

Comment: On Being A Working Class Academic: A Personal Reflection – Huffington Post

working-classThe following article appeared in the Huffington Post on 27th January 2017; the original can be found here.

On Being A Working Class Academic: A Personal Reflection

Isn’t it strange how class has become something that we rarely talk about in public nowadays?

Given the fact that class is something I self-define by I was pleased to see research about class making the headlines this week. I was however less pleased, albeit unsurprised with what it had to say.

That was because it showed that British professionals from working-class backgrounds are paid on average £6,800 less each year than those from more affluent families. Noting that 21st century Britain was still a ‘deeply elitist’ society, the Social Mobility Commission’s research stated that while this shortfall in pay was partly due to differences in educational background a number of other factors were also key: those from working class backgrounds were less likely to ask for pay rises, have less access to networks and work opportunities and, in some cases, self-exclude from such things as promotion for fear of not ‘fitting in’.

What resonated most with me however was the recognition that those from working-class backgrounds also tend to experience both conscious and unconscious discrimination including quite subtle processes which lead to what is described as ‘cultural matching’ in the workplace. Consequently, many of the traditional professions continue to be dominated by those from advantaged backgrounds. Such professions – the report added – included academia, a profession that I have been in for the past decade and half. From personal experience, ‘the academy’ is indeed a space where those from advantaged backgrounds clearly hold the reins of power. So marginalised do I feel at times from those around me, even using the term ‘the academy’ makes me feel uncomfortable given that it just does not feature in my normal vocabulary or cultural lexicon. I know this wouldn’t be the same for some of my peers.

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Comment: Five Considerations When Refuting The Critics Of Islamophobia – Huffington Post

huffington-post-logoBeen a bit slow at uploading articles of late but here’s the first of a few that I’ve authored over the past few weeks. Published in the Huffington Post, the piece is a follow-on from the oral evidence I gave to the Home Affairs Committee at a session on the impacts of Islamophobic hate crime. The original article can be accessed by clicking here.

Five Considerations When Refuting The Critics Of Islamophobia

Following on from the oral evidence I gave to the Home Affairs Committee at a session on the impacts of hate crime, I was asked to pull together a short briefing paper on how we might move towards establishing a working definition of Islamophobia.

As with any discriminatory phenomenon, the process of definition can be complex and contentious and Islamophobia is no different in this respect. However unlike other discriminatory phenomena such as racism, Islamophobia has a far shorter history. It should be remembered that in its current manifestation, the term Islamophobia only entered the public and political lexicon two decades ago. Consequently, thinking and understanding about the phenomenon remains less developed than it does for other similar phenomena.

Nonetheless, numerous definitions of Islamophobia currently exist ranging from the academic and scholarly, through the community and advocacy sectors, to the policy and political. Few have acquired widespread acceptance however and so the search for ‘the one’ has become something of a search for El Dorado. But as with El Dorado, so too is it a myth to believe that conceiving and establishing a working definition of Islamophobia will simplify the phenomenon’s complexity or overcome its contestation…

To continue reading, click here.

Evidence: Towards a Working Definition of Islamophobia – Briefing Paper

briefing-paperFollowing the presentation of oral evidence to the Home Affairs Committee in December 2016, I have drawn together a short briefing paper on the need to establish a widely accepted working definition on Islamophobia that I have duly submitted. The briefing paper can be downloaded in full by clicking here.

This is not the first time that I have recommended that a working definition be established: among others, I did the same to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia in 2011 (here) and the Cross-Government Working Group on Islamophobia in 2012 (here).

Let’s hope this attempt will be more warmly received.