In preparation of my presentation at tomorrow’s conference in Vienna, Austria marking the 10th Anniversary of the OSCE’s Cordoba Conference and Declaration, I drew together a short briefing paper which expands on the main themes and ideas that I will be putting forward. Reflective and drawing on many of the issues that I have explored previously in my research, the paper can be downloaded by clicking here.
Here’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.
To mark the one month anniversary of the Westminster attacks, I reflect on some of the claims made about Birmingham not least that it’s the ‘jihadi capital’. To read the original, click here.
Birmingham Isn’t The ‘Hotbed’ Of Islamist Extremism It Was Claimed To Be
It’s been a month since Khalid Masood drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge – injuring around 50 people and killing four – before going on to crash it into the perimeter fence of the Houses of Parliament where he stabbed to death a police officer before being shot and killed.
As soon as Masood’s identity was made public, the media homed in on how he was from Birmingham. Following a raid on his flat on the outskirts of Birmingham city centre, camera crews and journalists from the world descended on the Hagley Road address at which time I like many of my peers were called on to give interviews, most asking us to explain that which we didn’t yet know.
My remit included speaking to news outlets from Belgium, France, Switzerland and the US as also the UK. Almost all of the interviews focused on why Birmingham was a ‘capital of jihadism’, the ‘new Londonistan’, and as one a Belgian journalist put it, the new Molenbeek (the Brussels suburb where police raided a number of houses in March 2016 in connection to the Paris terror attacks four months earlier). The same was true of others too.
Among the British news media a similar line of enquiry emerged. Take for instance the Financial Times and a quote describing Birmingham as a ‘hotbed’ for Islamist activity or the Independent when it referred to the city as a ‘breeding ground for British-born terror’. It was the Daily Mail that surpassed itself and indeed all other reports. Under the rhetorical headline, ‘So how DID Birmingham become the jihadi capital of Britain?’ the piece focused on where Masood lived and hired the car used to commit the atrocities. As the Mail put it, both were “in Birmingham. Birmingham. Birmingham. Birmingham. It’s always Birmingham”. For the Mail, the blame for Masood’s actions was undoubtedly Birmingham.
To continue reading, click here.
Following on from last week’s attacks in Westminster, just thought that I would share some links to the international coverage my research and/or thoughts attracted in the aftermath:
Pasted is some news coverage about my involvement with the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life from the University of Birmingham website. The original piece can viewed here.
The Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life in Birmingham
Chris Allen recently spent two days with the Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life when it visited Birmingham.
Chaired by Dominic Grieve QC MP, the Commission has brought together 20 Commissioners from a wide cross section of British society to consider how Britain’s Muslim communities could better engage and participate in public life. To do so, it has been touring the UK in recent months having held public hearings in a number of towns and cities to hear evidence from Muslim communities and others.
This is a recording of the oral evidence I gave earlier today at the public hearing of the Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life when it visited Birmingham.
With the Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life visiting Birmingham today and tomorrow, I’m making available the three pieces of written evidence that I submitted to it.
The first focuses on key issues facing Muslim communities in Birmingham and can be downloaded here.
The second, focuses on the impact Islamophobic attacks have on Muslim women and is available here.
The final piece, looks more broadly at the role of the media and can be found here.
More about the Commission can be found by clicking here.