THINK-PIECE: Shared Values for Birmingham – Social Inclusion Summit, July 2012

PING2-2Given the events of the past week and the less than positive spotlight that has been thrown on Birmingham, it has made me re-think and re-visit some of the things that I and colleagues have been writing about the city over the past few years (hence the earlier post about the research I did into Birmingham’s Muslim communities in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 riots).

Here I’m re-posting a short think-piece I co-wrote with my friend and long-term collaborator Arshad Isakjee. Having been co-opted into the city’s Social Inclusion Summit a few years back, both of us were concerned about the Summit’s pursuance of ‘shared values’ for Birmingham. As such, we agreed to write a think-piece setting out those concerns we had but also, setting out what we thought were a set of more viable alternatives. The culmination of this endeavour was the document that can be viewed by clicking here.

Whilst it is probably worth noting that after we submitted the think-piece to the Summit, we weren’t contacted again I do think that the think-piece remains relevant and might be a resonant resource in terms of the type of questions that will no doubt be raised following last week’s atrocities.


COMMENT: Why Britain Isn’t Belgium – Huffington Post

huffington-post-logo.jpgShort comment piece in the wake of yesterday’s attacks in Brussels. You can read the original piece here.

Why Britain Isn’t Belgium

I woke to a text message yesterday that ominously read: Brussels. I knew it wasn’t a good sign.

Logging onto the internet, news was breaking about a series of explosions at Brussels’ Zavantem airport. Shortly after, further news broke about an explosion at Brussels’ Maalbeek metro station.

Having been undertaking research in associated issues for more than sixteen years, while I continue to be shocked by the scale and level of the atrocities committed I’m rarely ever surprised by them. That sounds harsh, sorry. Worse though, I was even less surprised that there had been attacks in Belgium.

A quick look at recent history in Belgium gives credence to this.

For example in May 2014, Mehdi Nemmouche opened fire at the Musée juif de Belgique (Jewish Museum of Belgium) killing four people.

In January 2015 following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, Belgian police carried out a series of raids in Verviers, Schaerbeek, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Vilvoorde, and Zaventem. Killing two suspects while seriously wounding another, Belgian authorities later suggested that the two killed had been planning to attack those selling the next edition of the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

Continue reading “COMMENT: Why Britain Isn’t Belgium – Huffington Post”

Comment: University of Birmingham expert on 7/7 bombings – ITV Central News

ITVHere’s a short piece I wrote for ITV Central News (a condensed version of my Huffington Post piece). To read the original, click here.

University of Birmingham expert on 7/7 bombings

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 terror attacks, attention will rightly focus on the sheer horror of the unfolding events and the tragic loss of life.

The legacy left by these events has, however, been more far-reaching than expected, having a profound impact on how we go about our everyday lives. From more security checks at airports and increased monitoring of social media, to new counter-terror measures requiring public sector workers to play a greater role in combating extremism and schools being required to teach ‘British values’, the impact has been significant.

Maybe, though, the greatest impact is in terms of Britain’s multiculturalism. Blamed by some for having created a raft of different social problems, the past decade has seen many, including David Cameron, call for the death of multiculturalism.

The consequences of this can be seen in research showing that as well as people becoming less tolerant of each other, levels of racism are at a 20-year high.

Similarly, research shows that we are less trusting and more suspicious of different communities, especially Muslims. As a result, Muslim communities feel under greater scrutiny and increasingly marginalised.

With British society becoming ever more diverse, and with new challenges presented by young British Muslims going to fight in Syria and Iraq, the shadow of 7/7 is likely to remain for the foreseeable future.

To read the original, click here.