BRIEFING: Missing Muslims Report: Identifying the Priorities for Birmingham – Birmingham’s Muslims Project


Click here to view a short briefing paper my friend and colleague Özlem Ögtem-Young pulled together from discussions had during a workshop we facilitated here at the University of Birmingham a few weeks ago.

Seeking to explore and subsequently identify the priorities for Birmingham’s Muslim communities in the social, political and public spaces that exist across the city we used the recommendations from the Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life to focus the discussions. If you’re not familiar with the recommendations or even the report,”Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All” for free by clicking here.

The priorities identified are set out below:

To consider providing guidance on accurate reporting on Muslim issues in Birmingham and the West Midlands, to ensure that faith is not conflated with extremism. To seek the support and input of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) as regards appropriate ways of responding and complaining where appropriate.

For Birmingham City Council – and others in the city – to adopt a formal definition of Islamophobia at the same time as making a public statement denouncing all forms of discriminatory phenomena. To work with appropriate authorities in the city to ensure
that Islamophobic hate crime is dealt with in the same way as other hate crimes.

For Birmingham’s mosques to invest in imams appropriate to the city and its Muslim communities, to work towards ensuring that imams are paid a decent living wage funded by Muslim institutions in the UK, and for them to be equipped with the correct pastoral skills to meet the needs of those they seek to support.

For Birmingham City Council schools, colleges and youth clubs to champion and expand opportunities for young people from different backgrounds to meet and share experiences through the encouragement of outreach programmes and other appropriate activities that are attractive to young people.

For Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police to consider convening a review of its Prevent provision at the same time as establishing an Advisory Group made up of local stakeholders to share best practice.

For Birmingham City Council and other appropriate institutions and actors to consider the creation of a campaign showcasing and championing the city’s diversity, referred to here as the ‘multiple faces of Birmingham’.

For Birmingham’s institutions to consider how to better engage Muslim women. For Birmingham’s mosques and Muslim organisations to consider how to better include Muslim women as also their views and opinions.

Download the full briefing paper here.



COMMENT: Birmingham’s Muslims, A City Of Challenges And Opportunities – Huffington Post

This is a comment piece I wrote to coincide with the conference “Birmingham’s Muslims: past, present and futures, challenges and opportunities” that was held at the University of Birmingham last Friday, 21st October 2016.

To view the piece in its original form, click here. Alternatively, you can read it below.

Birmingham’s Muslims: A City Of Challenges And Opportunities

Perceptions of Birmingham can be oppositional when it comes to Muslims and Islam. On the one hand, Birmingham has been somewhat infamously referred to by a Fox News ‘expert’ as a place that is “totally Muslim where non-Muslims just simply don’t go”. On the other, it is the “best place in Europe to be pure Muslim”.

Despite such a glowing commendation, Birmingham might not have been the ‘best place’ to be Muslim in recent years. From being securitised by the 220-plus CCTV and ANPR cameras that were positioned around two of the most densely populated Muslim areas of the city under the moniker of the now defunct ‘Project Champion’ to being implicated by Operation Trojan Horse’s hoax allegations of an ‘Islamist takeover’ of a number of the city’s council-run schools, the detrimental impact on Muslims and their communities both inside and outside the city cannot be underestimated.

What we do know however is that outside of London, Birmingham is Britain’s most multicultural city. While the concept of multiculturalism has been attacked in recent years, Birmingham’s multiculturalism is what the former city-based sociologist Paul Gilroy refers to as convivial: ordinary, taken-for-granted and to some extent, unexceptional. Significant within that convivial multiculturalism are the city’s Muslim communities. The most populous outside of London, the 2011 Census states that Birmingham is home to 233,923 people identifying as Muslim. At around 22% of the city’s population, this is significantly higher than the 4.8% of the population Muslims make up in England and Wales. Most striking however is that of those who identified as Muslim, 97,099 – or 41.5% – were under 16 years of age.

To continue reading, click here.