COMMENT: Channel 4’s The State: disturbing and accurate reminder of idealism gone wrong – The Conversation

Conversation_logoHere’s a piece I recently wrote for the always informed The Conversation in response to criticisms directed at BAFTA award-winner Peter Kosminsky’s Channel 4 drama series, The State. You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Channel 4’s The State: disturbing and accurate reminder of idealism gone wrong

It seems quite unfounded that Channel 4 has had to defend its new four-part drama, The State. The series – written by BAFTA award-winner Peter Kosminsky – follows two British men and two British women who decide to go to Syria and join Islamic State. Encouraged to forget their past lives in the UK in favour of living segregated lives where the men are taught to fight and the woman become their chattels, the series is as compelling and gripping as it is disturbing and discomforting.

It is also the most accurate dramatisation of what life would appear to be like living under the Islamic State to have been produced to date.

Nevertheless, one should be unsurprised that the drama’s subject matter would earmark it for criticism. Christopher Stevens in the Daily Mail describes the drama as “pure poison”. While framing criticisms within the context of the Mail’s regular enemies – liberals (Kosminsky), publicly funded broadcasters (Channel 4), and political correctness (the alleged “racism” shown towards the white people joining Islamic State) – three themes emerge that need refuting.

The first is whether the drama accurately represents what life might be like under Islamic State. From what is known from personal testimonies of those who have either returned from fighting in Syria and Iraq or suffered at Islamic State’s hands, the drama would seem to ring true.

You can continue reading by clicking here.

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ARTICLE: Brexit, Birmingham and Belonging: Anxieties About ‘Home’ Among Secondary Migrant Somali Families – Sociological Review Blog

sociological+reviewHere’s a link to a piece recently published by the Sociological Review that was co-written with my long-term friend and collaborator Özlem Young. Focusing on new research we undertook in Birmingham with Somali families in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum, the full piece can be read by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below too:

Brexit, Birmingham and Belonging: Anxieties About ‘Home’ Among Secondary Migrant Somali Families

Having obtained full EU citizenship status elsewhere (including in Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden), a significant number of Somalis have arrived in Britain since the year 2000. Research suggests that Britain was preferred as a destination of secondary migration on the basis that it was perceived to be more tolerant of cultural and religious difference. Maybe unsurprisingly, many settled in Birmingham, a city that not only has a long history of welcoming and being home to many diverse communities but one that has also been referred to as being the best place in Europe to be ‘pure Muslim’.

In making Birmingham their home, many of those that have settled have had families while at the same time creating organisations and services that support their cultural, theological and political needs. In doing so, they have established themselves as a distinct ‘community’. Birmingham is most definitely seen to be ‘home’; their sense of belonging to the city being routinely conveyed to us when we began to engage Somali families in the city as part of a research project that sought to explore the impact of Brexit on a number of different minority communities. As one of those we engaged put it:

“The number one factor here is the social life. I grew up in Sweden and Sweden was a very secluded environment where people kept themselves to themselves… But here in the UK, especially Birmingham, people do more outdoor activities, go to restaurants… whether it is sheesha, whether it is the gym, people are always outside. So that’s what I like…And the mosque community in the UK, especially Birmingham, is very active. There are always activities. Not necessarily religious, they could be any sort. People can come from outside, say government or schools, and you can have awareness of different issues. So you’re never bored in terms of that aspect.”

Because the Somalis we spoke to were European rather than British citizens however, the vote for Britain to leave the European Union threw any sense of ‘home’ or belonging they had into disarray.

Continue reading by clicking here.

ARTICLE: Political Approaches to Tackling Islamophobia: An ‘Insider/Outsider’ Analysis of the British Coalition Government’s Approach between 2010–15 – Social Sciences

socsci-logoYou can download my new article “Political Approaches to Tackling Islamophobia: An ‘Insider/Outsider’ Analysis of the British Coalition Government’s Approach between 2010–15” by clicking here.

As you will be aware, I try to ensure that as many of my outputs are freely available whenever possible. The good news is that Social Sciences – the journal this is published in – is entirely free to everyone !

Below is the abstract:

Soon after the Conservative-led Coalition government came to power in 2010, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi announced that Islamophobia had passed the ‘dinner-table test’ in contemporary Britain. Resultantly, the need to address Islamophobia was identified as a priority for the Coalition. This article critically analyses how the Coalition sought to achieve this and the extent to which it was successful. Focusing on the period 2010–15, this article initially frames what is meant by Islamophobia, before briefly setting out how it had been responded to by previous British governments. Regarding the Coalition, a threefold approach is adopted that considers the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hate, and the political discourses used by the Coalition about Muslims and Islam more generally. Concluding that the Coalition failed to meet the high expectations set by Warsi’s speech, this article considers why this might have been so.

Download here.

COMMENT: London Nach Dem Terror, Regierung und Muslime müssen miteinander reden – IslamIQ

islamiqFollowing on from writing for the Turkish-language German-based periodical Perspektif, I now have my articles republished – and translated into German – for IslamIQ. The pieces are the same although the titles do vary. This piece is titled, “London After The Terror: the Government and Muslims must talk to each other” and can be read in full by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can read the first few paragraphs below:

London Nach Dem Terror, Regierung und Muslime müssen miteinander reden

Kurz nach dem Attentat auf der London Bridge Anfang Juni ließ Großbritanniens Premierministerin Theresa May verlauten, „genug sei genug“. Nach dem jüngsten Anschlag auf die Londoner Finsbury Park Moschee, bei dem ein weißer Brite einen Kleinbus in eine Gruppe von Muslimen gesteuert hatte, die nach dem Nachtgebet im Ramadan die Moschee gerade verließ, äußerte sie sich ähnlich, betonte diesmal allerdings die Notwendigkeit der Bekämpfung von Islamhass.

Angesichts einer Welle von Terroranschlägen, bei denen binnen vier Monaten 36 Menschen starben und 200 verletzt wurden, sagte May: „Es gibt, um es offen zu sagen, eine viel zu große Toleranz gegenüber Extremismus in unserem Land.“ Unterstützern von Extremismus müsse deutlich entschiedener entgegen getreten werden. Es sei an der Zeit, so May, „ einige schwierige und unangenehme Gespräche“ zu führen.

Continue reading here.

COMMENT: Birleşik Krallık: Konuşulması Gereken “Zorlu” Konular – Perspektif

perspektif_logoHere’s my second piece I’ve written for the Turkish-language German-based periodical, Perspektif. Loosely translated, the piece is titled “United Kingdom: “Challenging” Needs to be Discussed” which doesn’t give much away so to help, it’s some thought in the immediate aftermath of the terror attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market. You can read the piece by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Birleşik Krallık: Konuşulması Gereken ‘Zorlu’ Konular

Haziran ayının başlarında gerçekleşen Londra Köprüsü terör saldırılarından kısa bir süre sonra Başbakan Theresa May, “Bıçak kemiğe dayandı” dedi. İngiliz bir beyaz adam, Londra’nın kuzeyindeki Finsbury Park Camisi’ndeki teravihten çıkan Müslüman kalabalığın üzerine minibüs sürdüğünde de Theresa May aynı söylemi tekrarladı; ancak bu sefer İslamofobi ile mücadelenin altını çizdi. Başbakan ayrıca, üç aydan daha kısa bir sürede gerçekleşen, 36 kişinin hayatını kaybetmesine ve 200’den fazla kişinin yaralanmasına neden olan ve şimdiye dek eşi görülmemiş dört terör saldırısına tepki olarak, “İtiraf etmek gerekirse, ülkemizde aşırıcılığa karşı haddinden fazla müsamaha var.” dedi. Aşırıcılığa müsamahalı olanlara karşı çok daha “sert” tavır alınması gerektiğini de ekleyen May, “bazı zor ve can sıkıcı konuşmalar yapma”nın vaktinin geldiğini söyledi.

Özellikle Müslümanlara atıfta bulunmadığı hâlde, May’in söylemlerinin Britanya’daki Müslüman cemaatleri hedef aldığını düşünen pek çok kişi var. Başbakan’ın konuşmasının hemen bir gün sonrasında, Birleşik Krallık’ın tek Müslüman bakanı ve “cemaatlerden” sorumlu olan Sajid Javid de benzeri yorumlarda bulundu. Javid, “özel bir yükümlülüğe sahip olmaları” nedeniyle, Müslümanların aşırıcılıkla mücadele konusunda “daha fazla efor sarf etmesi” ve bu Müslüman cemaatlerin artık “zorlu konuları konuşmaları” gerektiğini söyledi. Benzeri düşünceler İngiliz siyasi alanında on yıldan uzun bir süredir devam etmekle birlikte Javid, daha da ileri giderek, aşırıcılığın ve aşırıcılığa müsamahanın Birleşik Krallık’taki Müslüman cemaatte yalnızca “zehirli bir azınlığı” beslemediğini, bu oranın Birleşik Krallık nüfusunda daha büyük rakamlara tekabül ettiğini ileri sürdü.

Continue reading by clicking here.

 

 

COMMENT: Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims – The Conversation

conversation-full-logo2Here’s a piece I wrote for the always excellent The Conversation. Titled, “Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims” the piece was written in the immediate aftermath of the attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque. You can read the piece in full by clicking here.

The first few paragraphs are reproduced below.

Britain must address the pervasive ‘white noise’ against Muslims

On hearing the news that Darren Osborne was arrested for terror offences including attempted murder following an attack on a group of Muslims near the Finsbury Park Mosque, it would have been easy to jump to the conclusion that the act was motivated by far-right ideologies.

But, while it would appear Osborne followed both Paul Golding and Jayda Francis – two leaders of the far-right group Britain First – on Twitter, officials said the suspect had no concrete links with any far-right group nor was he known to the security services. The investigation will now turn to what motivated the attack, which has rightly been described as terrorism.

For almost two decades, my research has shown how anti-Muslim views have become increasingly unquestioned and accepted in both the public and political discourse. In this respect, despite being roundly criticised by the right-wing press, Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chair of the Conservative party, was right when she said in 2011 that Islamophobia had passed the dinner table test.

To continue reading, click here.

COMMENT: Why Theresa May Is Wrong To Suggest That Islamophobia Is A Form Of Extremism – Huffington Post

huffington-post-logo.jpgYou can read a comment piece I wrote a while ago about why Theresa May was wrong to refer to Islamophobia as a form of extremism by clicking here.

Originally published in the Huffington Post, the first few paragraphs are reproduced below:

Why Theresa May Is Wrong To Suggest That Islamophobia Is A Form Of Extremism

In response to the horrific events in Finsbury Park, Theresa May rightly described the attack as “an evil borne out of hatred and it has devastated a community”. In doing so, she captured the outrage that many were feeling.

What was interesting however was the way in which she referred to Islamophobia. According to her, Islamophobia was a form of extremism. Of course, any attempt to tackle Islamophobia is not only welcome but so too long overdue in the British political spaces especially as the Conservatives had gone silent on the issue once the impotence of its Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hate had been exposed. However, referring to Islamophobia as a form of extremism and indeed continuing to frame it in this way is extremely problematic.

Much has been made about the fact that Islamophobia is difficult to define. This isn’t exclusive to Islamophobia. In fact the same is true of all discriminatory phenomena including racism, homophobia and sexism among others. As an attempt to bring some consistency to the debate, I recently submitted a briefing paper to MPs suggesting that a definition of Islamophobia could be shaped from a Governmentally-endorsed working definition of Antisemitism.

To continue reading, click here.