Islamophobia 2017 – challenges for us all

AN ANNIVERSARY PROJECT

2017 is the twentieth anniversary of the landmark 1997 Runnymede Trust Report Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All. A project is being planned to mark the anniversary. The aims of the project are:

  • to renew awareness of the causes, nature, facets and dangers of Islamophobia
  • to help develop and strengthen counter-narratives relating to citizenship, secularism, pluralism and justice
  • to provide resources, lesson plans, activities and course outlines for schools, colleges, universities and communities, and for training and awareness-raising events of various kinds.

THREE PRINCIPAL STRANDS

The project has three strands:

  • LOOKING BACK, LOOKING AHEAD: public lectures and events in Leeds and London to mark the twentieth anniversary of the 1997 report – 19 October 2017 in London and 12 November 2017 in Leeds.
  • BLOGPOSTS: critique, reaction and responses hosted by ReOrient: The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies.
  • RESOURCING EDUCATORS: an archive of lesson plans, exercises, training programmes and course outlines. September/November 2017.

If you would like to contribute to the blog or the resources archive, or both, please send an indication of your interest to mailto:admin@islamophobia2017.org.uk. Also, please send  suggestions and requests, if you wish, about the specific topics and issues you hope this project will address.

PLANNING

The project is being organised jointly by the Centre for Ethnicity and Racism Studies at the University of Leeds, the Insted Consultancy, the Muslim Youthwork Foundation and ReOrient: The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies.

The current members of the planning group for the project are Sameena Choudry (Equitable Education consultancy), Gill Cressey (Coventry University), MG Khan (Ruskin College, Oxford), Robin Richardson (formerly at the Runnymede Trust), S.Sayyid (University of Leeds) and AbdoolKarim Vakil (King’s College London).

INTERNATIONAL DIMENSION

The project focuses on the situation in the UK, as did the report published 20 years ago. But it also takes account of scholarship, issues, activism and creative developments in other countries as well.

BACKGROUND

The 1997 Runnymede report can be accessed via the following link: http://www.runnymedetrust.org/companies/17/74/Islamophobia-A-Challenge-for-Us-All.html.

A follow-up report published by Trentham Books in 2004 can be found at http://www.insted.co.uk/islambook.pdf

Many key theoretical issues are discussed in Thinking through Islamophobia: global perspectives, edited by S. Sayyid and AbdoolKarim Vakil, Hurst Publishers 2011.

FURTHER INFORMATION

The project has a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Islamophobia2017

A website is being built at http://islamophobia2017.org.uk/

POSTER

A poster about the project can be downloaded from http://www.islamophobia2017.org.uk/pdf/islamophobia2017-finalweb.pdf

 

A low dishonest year

trump-and-farage

On Monday 14 November 2016 Alan Bennett jotted a brief note in his diary. There is ‘a nauseating picture,’ he wrote, ‘on the front of the Guardian of Trump and Farage together’. He added: ‘with “nauseating” in this case not just a word. It does genuinely make one feel sick.’

All over the world many millions of other people felt sick too, and felt not only disgusted and nauseous but also fearful and despairing.

in the famous words of W H Auden in 1939, people felt lost in ‘a low dishonest decade’, where ‘waves of anger and fear/ circulate over the bright/ and darkened lands of the earth,/ obsessing our private lives.’

Auden referred to the ‘unmentionable odour of death’ offending and obsessing the lives of millions. A similar odour is around at the end of 2016, this low dishonest year.

In order not to forget the worries and weariness with which 2016 ends, but also in order to help nurture hope and determination to keep on keeping on ( to show ‘an affirming flame’, in Auden’s phrase), here at the end of 2016 are links to a handful of reflections and proposals:

British Values, Brexit and Trump a meditation for today, December 2016

Making our states fair again post-election reflections, November 2016

Grief, anger and re-engagement post-referendum thoughts and action, July 2016

And to help remember some of the background context here are some further pieces:

A multi-storied nation religion and belief in modern Britain, July 2016

Islamophobia, still a challenge for us all ‘what Muslims really think’, May 2016

Learning to live together British values and Prevent, February 2016

British identity and British values muddles, mixtures and ways ahead, autumn 2015

References

Alan Bennett’s diary for 2016 is published in the London Review of Books, 5 January 2017, at http://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n01/alan-bennett/diary

 

 

 

 

Brexit, Trump and All That

‘We’re out!’, they crowed, we’re out and proud,

self-styled ‘real people’, triumphant and loud.

Thus began a meditation at a conference last week on development education. The meditation continued:

They’d got their country back, their turf and their ways,

the ones known by their forebears in good old days,

when foreigners everywhere, whatever their race,

were neither here nor uppity, knowing their place.

The meditation can be read in full at http://www.insted.co.uk/meditation.pdf

 

 

 

New in 2016

The blog of the Insted consultancy, previously named Insted Consultancy News, has a new name – The Prose and the Passion. The phrase is derived from a famous plea by E. M Forster (1879—1970) in his novel Howards End (1910). ‘Only connect the prose and the passion,’ he said, ‘and both will be exalted.’

Five papers were added to the Insted website in early 2016, and can be accessed at http://www.insted.co.uk/, or else by clicking on the links below.

Learning to live together in 2016: British values and preventing extremism, introductory remarks at a conference for headteachers, January 2016, http://www.insted.co.uk/learning-to-live-together.pdf

Challenging extremism through education: reflections, responses and resources, details of about 70 recent items in newspapers and the blogosphere, including several which propose constructive ways ahead in the education system, http://www.insted.co.uk/challenging-extremism-through-education.pdf

British identity and British values: muddles, mixtures and ways ahead, an article first published in the London Review of Education,  September 2015, http://www.insted.co.uk/london-review-education.pdf

The promotion of British values: a model school policy statement, reflecting ways of integrating fundamental British values into a school’s overall policy framework, http://www.insted.co.uk/values.pdf

School governors and British values: a statement of concern,  notes on the apparent failure of the Department for Education to have due regard for natural justice and the rule of law in its dealings with Trojan Horse schools in Birmingham, summer and autumn 2015, http://www.insted.co.uk/school-governors.pdf

The Prose and the Passion blog is managed by Robin Richardson. An interview with him about his career and work over the years, conducted in 2012 on behalf of the International Association for Intercultural Education, can be read at http://www.insted.co.uk/interview-with-robin-richardson.pdf.

The Great British Values Disaster

The time is late January 2015. The place is a university campus somewhere in England. ‘Kill Islam,’ says a piece of graffiti scrawled in big red letters on one of the university’s buildings, ‘before it kills you’. A student at the university writes: ‘Every time you come back onto campus, you’re reminded of it. When you’re trying to focus, it’s that nagging thought in the back of your head that keeps coming back.’

He continues: ‘And there’s the constant question that you ask yourself: do I belong here? … On campus, where I’m supposed to feel safe, there are people who actively call for the killing of people like me. I came to university to get an education, not to be the object of vitriolic hate.’

There is increasing anxiety and insecurity amongst many British Muslims at present, an increasing feeling of not belonging here, not belonging even in the places where they should feel most safe, the country’s universities, colleges, schools and nurseries. Such feelings have been exacerbated by the actions of government, and by government inspection regimes such as Ofsted. In this connection the recent requirement for all schools to actively promote what the government calls fundamental British values (FBV) is playing a particularly insidious and damaging role. The requirement leads to widespread miseducation about the nature of British history, society and culture, and to zealously insensitive and counter-productive inspections by Ofsted.

The difficulties and dangers inherent in FBV are outlined in an article by Bill Bolloten and Robin Richardson, published yesterday on the website of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). It can be read at http://www.irr.org.uk/news/the-great-british-values-disaster-education-security-and-vitriolic-hate/

Also at the IRR website there’s a timely article by Arun Kundnani about the profound dangers for the education system which are inherent in the new counter-terrorism and security legislation. The article can be read at http://www.irr.org.uk/news/counter-terrorism-policy-and-re-analysing-extremism/. Kundnani shows that things are likely to get worse for the student cited above, and for everyone, before they get better.

Charlie Hebdo, free speech, us-and-them thinking

First reflections on what is happening

Headline writers and politicians throughout the western world have been in agreement – the attack on Charlie Hebdo on 7 January was part of a war on freedom, a war on the foundations of western democracy. Anyone who does not express total solidarity with the victims by, for example, holding up a Je suis Charlie slogan, and does not declare their unwavering commitment to freedom of speech, is on the side of the terrorists. This has been the dominant narrative in virtually all the coverage so far in the mainstream media, and in the vast majority of speeches and statements by political leaders.

Only a handful of voices have so far queried this dominant narrative – only a handful have stressed that you can NOT ONLY have profound sympathy for the victims and for their families, friends, colleagues and close followers; and can NOT ONLY deplore the cruelty and callousness of the murderers; and can NOT ONLY care about freedom of expression; but can ALSO deplore the simplistic, hypocritical, racist, Islamophobic and deeply damaging us-and-them thinking that has been at the heart of the mainstream media coverage, and of most political speeches.

Here are links to 28 fine articles that query and deplore the dominant narrative, and that indicate alternative approaches to understanding what is going on. They are listed in no particular order.

__________________________________

1. Je ne suis pas Charlie Hebdo
by Jon Wilson
http://labourlist.org/2015/01/je-ne-suis-pas-charlie-hebdo/

2. The moral hysteria of Je suis Charlie
by Brian Klug
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/moral-hysteria-charlie

3. Charlie Hebdo and the hypocrisy of pencils
by Corey Oakley
http://redflag.org.au/node/4373

4. I am Charlie, and I guard the Master’s house
by Nadine El-Enany and Sarah Keenan
http://criticallegalthinking.com/2015/01/13/charlie-guard-masters-house/

5. Where monoculturalism leads
by Liz Fekete
http://www.irr.org.uk/news/where-monoculturalism-leads/

6. Why I am not Charlie
by Scott Long
http://paper-bird.net/2015/01/09/why-i-am-not-charlie/

7. No, we’re not all Charlie Hebdo, nor should we be
by Ben Hayes
https://www.opendemocracy.net/ben-hayes/no-we’re-not-all-charlie-hebdo-nor-should-we-be

8. Equal in Paris
by Thomas Chatterton Williams
https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/online-only/equal-in-paris/

9. Mourning the Parisian journalists, yet noticing the hypocrisy
by Michael Lerner
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-michael-lerner/mourning-the-parisian-jou_b_6442550.html

10. The danger of polarised debate
by Gary Younge
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/11/charie-hebdo-danger-polarised-debate-paris-attacks

11. Smiling Muslims: leave the gun, take the cannoli
by Hamid Dabashi
http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/c7c085dd-968d-4995-8f1f-314806a0d748

12. We must not forget the responsibility that goes with free speech
by Tariq Modood
http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2015/01/12/in-remembering-the-charlie-hebdo-attack-we-must-not-forget-the-responsibility-that-goes-with-free-speech/

13. When blasphemy is bigotry
by Chloe Patton
http://mondoweiss.net/2015/01/recognise-historical-discussing

14. From the radical left towards Islamophobia
by Alain Gresh
http://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/comment/18705071-5026-49d5-9bc7-e7c2ab282941

15. Free speech does not mean freedom from criticism
by Jacob Canfield
http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2015/01/in-the-wake-of-charlie-hebdo-free-speech-does-not-mean-freedom-from-criticism/

16. Fed up with the hypocrisy of the free speech fundamentalists
by Mehdi Hasan
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mehdi-hasan/charlie-hebdo-free-speech_b_6462584.html

17. Piety or rage?
by Seyla Benhabib
http://www.hannaharendtcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Piety-or-Rage.pdf

18. Moral clarity
by Adam Shatz
http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/01/09/adam-shatz/moral-clarity/

19. The Charlie Hebdo tragedy
by Christopher Page
https://inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/charlie-hebdo-tragedy/

20. Heroic but also racist
by Jordan Weissmann
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/01/charlie_hebdo_the_french_satirical_magazine_is_heroic_it_is_also_racist.html

21. West’s sickening moral hijack of Paris massacre
by Finean Cunningham
http://mycatbirdseat.com/2015/01/89159wests-sickening-moral-hijack-of-paris-massacre/

22. Is the Charlie Hebdo attack really a struggle over European values?
by Myriam Francois-Cerrah
http://www.newstatesman.com/myriam-francois-cerrah

23. Free speech is not an absolute value
by Simon Dawes
https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/simon-dawes/charlie-hebdo-free-speech-but-not-as-absolute-value

24. Is solidarity without identity possible?
by Cinzia Arruzza
http://www.publicseminar.org/2015/01/is-solidarity-without-identity-possible/#.VLLvpJIgGK0

25. Unmournable bodies
by Teju Cole
http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/unmournable-bodies

26. Four reasons why I’m tired of Islamophobia
by Khalishah Stevens
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/01/09/4-reasons-why-je-suis-fatigue-from-islamophobia/

27. Rival sanctities
by Glen Newey
http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2015/01/09/glen-newey/rival-sanctities/

28. Us and them
by Matt Carr
http://infernalmachine.co.uk/us-and-them/

_________________________________________
This list was compiled in partnership with Bill Bolloten, 14 January 2015. It was later expanded to contain 80 items, and the longer version was published at http://www.insted.co.uk/beyond-us-them.pdf.

 

 

 

 

Equalities and British values

There has been much talk in recent months about ‘fundamental British values’ – FBV for short. A substantial symposium on this topic traces the origins of FBV in highly dubious and controversial counter-terrorism policies and measures, and reviews the criticisms of it that have been made by practitioners and observers. Also, the symposium quotes some of the criticisms that have been made of the simplistic and damaging way Ofsted has been approaching FBV, and the muddled, confused and confusing ‘guidance’ that has been issued by the Department for Education.

The symposium has been compiled by Robin Richardson and Bill Bolloten and will be published in late January 2015 in the journal Race Equality Teaching (RET). A copy of the whole journal can be purchased at a much reduced price if ordered before 15 January. Details of this offer are at http://ioepress.co.uk/books/race-equality-teaching/ret-special-issue-323/

The editorial introduction to this issue of RET urges that the Department for Education should make itself compliant with its duty under the Equality Act 2010 to publish specific and measurable objectives. The DfE rightly declares the rule of law is a fundamental value underlying British society. But in relation to the Equality Act the DfE itself flagrantly ignores what the rule of law requires.

Ofsted, at least, until recently observed the rule of law in relation to the Equality Act. But, as pointed out in a further editorial article in the new issue of RET, it no longer publishes guidance to inspectors about what the law requires and it is therefore no longer transparent. This is both unfair and unhelpful, and may be open to legal challenge.

There are then several articles about the training needs of teachers. Gus John writes about the need for teachers to be thoroughly familiar with the work and influence of Black authors and activists; Sarah Soyei about the importance of knowing one’s own standpoints and biases; Sue Sanders about the dangers of either/or thinking; Kate Hollinshead about clarity of language; and Bethany O’Reilly about the need for teachers not only to learn but also to unlearn.

Of course, it’s not only teachers who have much to unlearn in relation to equalities. Political leaders need to unlearn too. And so, argues this special issue of Race Equality Teaching, do Ofsted and the Department for Education.

Race Equality Teaching is published by the Institute of Educatiion, London. Normally it is available only on a subscription basis, and individual subscriptions are £39 for three issues each year. But in this instance the Institute is offering copies for just £5 each, plus postage, if ordered before printing starts on 15 January 2015. There’s a link to an order form at http://ioepress.co.uk/books/race-equality-teaching/ret-special-issue-323/.