TALK: Open in Order to…Engage Communities & Build Goodwill – Open Access Week, University of Birmingham

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Comment: Tenth anniversary of 7/7 bombings – College of Social Sciences, University of Birmingham

COSSThis is a piece for the University of Birmingham’s College of Social Sciences news page that was reworked from my earlier Huffington Post article. To read the original piece, click here.

Tenth anniversary of 7/7 bombings

The tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London terror attacks will rightly focus on the sheer horror of the day’s unfolding events and tragic loss of life. One cannot forget the shocking images of carnage and chaos that accompanied the news that four bombs – three on Underground trains, one on a double decker bus – had killed 52 civilians and injured more than 700 others.

The legacy left by these events has, however, been more far-reaching than might have been expected, having had something of a profound impact on how we live our everyday lives. From more security checks at airports and the increased monitoring of social media, the new counter-terror measures requiring public sector workers to play a greater role in combating extremism, and schools being required to teach ‘British values’, 7/7’s impact has been significant.

A less obvious impact however can be seen in relation to Britain’s multiculturalism and how we perceive our diversity.

To illustrate this, one only has to think about the day before 7/7. On that day, 6 July 2005, Britain won the right to host the 2012 Olympics in London. As celebrations took place in Trafalgar Square, many acknowledged how Britain’s multiculturalism – ‘The World in One City’ – had been a distinctive and critical factor in the decision-making process.

24 hours later and Britain’s multiculturalism was under a very different spotlight. Following the news that all of the 7/7 bombers were British-born, or ‘home-grown’ as it has been commonly referred to since, many began to search for answers about how this could have happened. For many, it was the inherent failings of Britain’s multicultural social model that was to blame, so much so that a forceful political response to it was required.

To continue reading, click here.

EXHIBITION: ‘Islamophobia – from pavement to parliament’ at Think Corner, Birmingham

PostcardsLast week, on the 11th and 12th September 2014, I held an exhibition of my research from the past 15 years into the phenomenon of Islamophobia. Titled, “Islamophobia: from pavement to parliament” the exhibition was held at the University of Birmingham’s Think Corner pop-up space in the Pavilions Shopping Centre in Birmingham city centre.

Over the two days I sought to use different approaches to explain to the general public how my research into Islamophobia has gone beyond the mere academic, helping to raise awareness of the experiences of those who become victims of street-level anti-Muslim hate as also trying to shape and influence political thinking about how best to tackle this unwanted and un-necessary phenomenon. This is where the title came about, from ‘pavement to parliament’.

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As part of this, I also gave a ‘cafe-scientifique’ style talk on the evening of the 11th. Entitled, “Islamophobia: why it matters to Birmingham” the talk set out a number of reasons why – if Birmingham is to be a successful, cohesive and integrated city in the future – we need to work together to tackle Islamophobia as indeed all other forms of discrimination, bigotry and hate. You can listen to the talk on Soundcloud by clicking here.

Over the two days, I engaged with around 50 or so people, most of whom would never have encountered my research and so on that basis alone, the exhibition was a success.

To find out more about Think Corner, click here.