Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life – Citizens UK

Citizens UK launched the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life in September 2015, as our current experience is that Muslim leaders are retreating from public life, fearful of being tarnished as extremist simply for having faith, with groups who work with prominent Islamic institutions being pilloried for partnering with alleged extremists.

This commission, chaired by Dominic Grieve QC MP, brought together 20 Commissioners drawn from a wide cross section of British society to consider how the Muslim community could better engage and participate in public life.

The Commission toured the UK, and held hearings, roundtables and individual meetings in a number of towns and cities, including those where Citizens UK works directly with civil society institutions, to hear their testimony as well as evidence from the Muslim communities, business, education and government bodies. [Citizens UK] Read more

Government urged to fix its ‘broken relationship’ with British Muslims

A major new commission, chaired by former attorney general Dominic Grieve, has also called on the government to urgently review its Prevent programme.

During interviews with British Muslims for its report ‘Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All’, the commission also found a strong sense that Muslims and Islam are ‘unfairly targeted’.

The fear of discrimination is even putting young British Muslims off from engaging in politics and other aspects of public life.

But the Prevent programme, which was set up in an attempt to stop extremism early on, was particularly strongly criticised – being raised as an issue in all 11 cities that the commission visited to gather evidence.

As a result, the commission recommends that tackling extremism and radicalisation would be ‘better achieved with a programme that has greater trust, particularly from the UK’s Muslim communities’.

It also calls on ministers to come up with a definition of anti-Muslim prejudice across Government, in the same way Antisemitism was formally defined last year. [Metro.co.uk] Read more

UK government urged to end Muslim Council of Britain ‘boycott’

The report by Citizens UK also recommended the government launch a review of the Prevent counter-terrorism policy.

The British government needs to fix its “broken relationship” with the Muslim community, according to a report by an influential charity.

“The Missing Muslims – Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All” is the result of an 18-month commission into the place of Islam in public life by the community support group Citizens UK.

The commissioners, who include high profile names from the world of business, academia, politics and faith, travelled the country and are said to have listened to 500 hours of testimony. They have proposed recommendations for the government, Muslim community, civil society and the business world to implement.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the UK’s leading Muslim representative body has welcomed the findings of the report, which also called for a review of the controversial Prevent policy and fairer reporting on Muslims by the media.

“Wider engagement,” the report said, “including the robust challenging of views with which it disagrees, rather than the apparent boycott of certain organisations, could best enable the Government to hear from the widest possible cross-section of the UK’s Muslim communities, including young people and women.” [Middle East Eye] Read more

Mosques must appoint British-born imams with good English, report concludes

Mosques must appoint British-born imams who speak fluent English because Islamic communities need “better leadership”, a major report has concluded.

An inquiry, chaired by the former Attorney General Dominic Grieve MP, found that Muslims need “fit for purpose” leaders who can understand “modern British life”.

The report, which was commissioned by the community organising charity Citizens UK, set out to examine the participation of the Islamic community in public life.

It noted that many imams are born and educated overseas, but said: “It is of great importance that British-born imams, who have a good understanding of British culture and who fluently speak English, are encouraged and appointed in preference to overseas alternatives.”

Imams were told they must take a “stronger stance” against persecution of others, including against anti-Semitism, Christian persecution and other branches of Islam.

The report, titled Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim potential for the benefit of all, also recommended that universities should provide courses so that imams can be accredited with religious and education qualifications. [The Telegraph] Read more

UK mosques should appoint British-born imams, says report

Mosques in the UK should hire British-born imams on a living wage who are better equipped than foreign religious leaders to understand the challenges faced by British Muslims, a report has recommended.

The Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All is the outcome of an 18-month inquiry established by campaigning group Citizens UK and chaired by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve. Its chief task was to examine how the participation of Muslims in public and community life might be improved.

It describes engagement between the government and Muslim communities as “a broken relationship that needs to be resolved, and both parties need to be proactive in addressing this”.

Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you

The 76-page report, published on Monday, says “British Muslim experiences are more diverse than is often assumed”. [The Guardian] Read more

Government urged to agree formal definition of anti-Muslim prejudice to tackle discrimination

Independent report on ‘Unlocking British Muslim Potential’ stresses need to define hate crimes against followers of Islam in the same way anti-Semitism was demarcated last year.

The Government should adopt a definition of anti-Muslim prejudice and commission an independent review of its Prevent programme to help Muslims integrate into British society, a new report has found.

More formal partnerships and events across communities are also called for by a major new commission chaired by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

The commission found a strong sense that Muslims and Islam are “unfairly targeted”, with the fear of discrimination putting off young British Muslims from engaging in politics and other aspects of public life.

The anti-extremism Prevent programme was also raised as an issue in every one of the 11 cities the commission visited to gather evidence.

The commissioners believe that tackling extremism and radicalisation would be “better achieved with a programme that has greater trust, particularly from the UK’s Muslim communities”.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Wrong, Islam needs to be criticised, other religions are regularly criticised and held up to ridicule.

This is simply an attempt by the “liberal” establishment to shut down discussion on the dangers of Islam .There are already sufficient laws in place to protect Muslims from hate crimes both verbal and physical, no more protection is needed.

[ANOTHER] The object of this, like earlier attempts, is to make it illegal to criticise Islam in any way.

This a key step on the road to the islamification of the UK, to prevent any type of complaint or protest as being “racist”

The fact that Islam is an ideology not a race seems always to be lost.

[ANOTHER] There is a major problem with reaching such a definition. I have worked on opposition to genuine anti-Muslim hate speech, which is usually more racist than defined by religious antipathy.

At the same time, as an academically trained former lecturer in Islamic Studies who has been workiung on a major study of issues concerning Islam internationally and particularly in the UK, I am aware that many Musims and Muslim bodies are hyper-sensitive to the point where they condemn even rational and informed criticism of Islam as Islamophobic.

Many non-Muslim writers and scholars have been attacked and even put on trial for perfectly accurate statements about the Qur’an, Muhammad, or Islamic history. I fear that those appointed to define Islamophobia will rely heavily on Muslim bodies to reach a definition. I am not an Islamophobe, but I do have criticisms of Islam and some Islamic practice. If the definition is as broadly as many Muslim leaders would like, Islam will become – as it very nearly is – the only religion, ideology, or political philosophy to be ring-fenced against reasonable criticism.

As an atheist and secularist, it is inevitable that I and others like me will say thing Muslims in general may disapprove of. But if their definition is set in legislation, I and others could be accused of a criminal offence, tried, and fined or imprisoned. That has already happened to several people.

The comparison with anti-Semitism (on which see Kenneth Marcus’s scholarly study, ‘The Definition of Anti-Semitism’ and the IHRA definition recognized by the UK, is not entirely safe. There are similarities, of course, but I know no Jews who would call out fair, academic criticisms of Judaism. In the IHRA definition, false, exaggerated, criticism of Israel or setting double standards for it falls foul of being anti-Semitic.

But fair, accurate, and balanced criticism does not, and plenty of Jews do criticisize the state in that way. More worryingly, there are many reformist Muslims and former Muslims who are critical of what they see as outdated aspects of the faith: they too come in for attacks from most imams and Muslim bodies. A bad definition could see Muslim reformers in the dock. We need to proceed with real caution. [The Independent] Read more

The latest inspiring Tory report on Muslims says we deserve attention because it can stop us becoming terrorists

…. Admittedly, the report includes some well-warranted policies, including an independent review into the Government’s anti-terrorism Prevent programme, advice for media reporting on issues relating to Islam, adopting a legal definition of anti-Muslim prejudice, and encouraging universities to offer courses for imams to receive religious and educational qualifications.

In these respects, the report signals a step forward in battling the rise in Islamophobia seen since the EU referendum result, and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that has become increasingly common in politics. And I appreciate that Dominic Grieve wants to unlock my potential “for the benefit of all”. However, the whole thing is inconsistent at best, providing only a half-hearted understanding of the political dynamics surrounding “integration”, and continuing to treat Muslims primarily as suspect.

…. Nevertheless, the question remains as to why the burden of integration must lie with British Muslims, especially when counter-reports show how Muslim identity has no bearing on whether or not someone feels British. This report claims that many British people believe Muslims have not integrated – but does this not tell us more about those British people than it does about British Muslims?

[TOP RATED COMMENT] I see no evidence that Islamaphobia is on the rise in politics, on the contrary, I hear politicians saying “Islam is the religion of peace” after every terrorist attack. Why shouldn’t British people demand that immigrants integrate into British society, the article suggests that the burden rests upon “us” rather than “them” to integrate?

The whole article is propaganda, attempting to portray muslims as victims. If muslims don’t like British society they should go back to the country’s they came from.

[2ND] Another ‘British are to blame’ article. If one day I have to go and live in Saudi Arabia I’ll find out about the culture and while I most likely wouldn’t integrate I wouldn’t disrespect it either. …. I also wouldn’t demand that my local restaurant served non halal meat. Yes, the UK like every nation on Earth has some intolerant people, it has some xenophobes and racists but to be honest it’s articles like this that quite frankly enrage me rather than engage me. They make me think that I am somehow to blame because the occassionally offended or attacked Muslim is my and other law abiding Brits fault for not integrating with the Muslim community …

[3RD] It is indeed a depressing report. The idea of a new legal definition of anti-Muslim prejudice amounts to a quite outrageous attempt to limit debate on a minority that is becoming deeply problematic. If we are not careful it is going to limit what we can say in threads like this if we have worries about matters like terrorism, a separate system of law for one religious group, gender inequality, prejudice against LGBT people, inhumane animal slaughtering practices, and the political correctness that made Rochdale possible.

[4TH] When Britain is being attacked by homegrown Islamist terrorists whiny articles like this about how people worrying about Muslim integration is somehow racist islamophobia and that the Muslims are somehow the real victims is insulting.

[5TH] You wrote, disingenuously: Integration is a two way street. If you want people to integrate into your society, you should reach out to them too.

Allah disagrees with you. He says:

‘O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.’ (Al-Ma’idah 5:51)

Integration can only begin when you and your co-religionists ignore Allah’s eternal commands.

[6TH] Until Islam reforms itself then it’s never going to be able to coexist with the British system of parliamentary democracy and an independent judiciary as Islam seeks to occupy the same space……which is already taken!!

From a philosophical point of view, the vast majority of Brits are entirely indifferent to organised religion and the “worshipping” of supernatural fantasies. So, once again, Islam jars very intractably with British society.

So, both structurally and philosophically Islam is totally at odds with how British society has evolved and developed over the last few hundred years. This point is so obvious yet it is continually lost in the shouting of the “liberal elite”, who can’t bear the idea of calling a spade a spade for fear of “offending” someone.

[7TH] Yet another whine by a Mohommadan.

Ali Meghi needs to tell us why, of his own free will, he purposefully chooses to follow a religion started by a man who married a 6 year old girl.

[ANOTHER] “How many of these Brits criticising their Muslim compatriots actually know that sharia law dictates a person should obey the law of the country they live in, thus advocating strong national pride?”

LOL LOL LOL.. sure obey the law of ..the ISLAMIC country…. this guy is taking us for a bunch of idiots. It is fact that Muslims must pledge allegiance to Allah and MOhammed ONLY. The Quoran and Sharia are their consitution. They should not live in a western country UNLESS their goal is to impose ISLAM…

The constant lying of these muzzrats trying to serve us the Kool aid is really getting tiring.

[ANOTHER] “How many of these Brits criticising their Muslim compatriots actually know that sharia law dictates a person should obey the law of the country they live in, thus advocating strong national pride?”

Who cares what the Sharia law says? Are you saying that if this wasn’t written in Sharia law, it would have been okay for Muslims to break the law of the country they live in? What is written in a medieval holy book is entirely irrelevant to anything at all. Don’t expect people to be thankful to Muslims merely for following the law. Other are able to follow the law even without being told to do so by their religious book.

Muslims need to do more than merely follow the law – they need to integrate into the culture of the host country, and adopt the social norms of the host country. Or are you saying that arranged marriages, long beards, skull caps, niqabs etc. should be banned by law, in which case Muslims would be obliged to not practice these things, since sharia tells them to follow the law?

[ANOTHER] Dame Louise Casey said that there is a “first generation in every generation” phenomenon in Muslim communities which is acting as a “bar” to integration.

The review also accuses Labour and local authorities of having “ignored or even condoned” harmful cultural traditions for fear of being branded “racist or Islamaphobic”.

Her report finds that thousands of people from all-Muslim enclaves in northern cities such as Bradford, Dewsbury and Blackburn seldom, if ever, leave their areas and have almost no idea of life outside…the report will send ‘shock waves’ through the system by attacking the Government, and particularly the Home Office, for failing to manage the consequences of mass migration and promote integration. [The Independent] Read more

I applaud British Islam’s refusal to bow to the establishment

A report out this week, chaired by the MP and QC Dominic Grieve and titled The Missing Muslims, encourages adherents of Islam to greater participation in civil society and public life. It calls for more British-born imams and greater integration of Muslims into British cultural life.

It’s not a bad report, and its intentions are worthy. It recognises that there are problems with the Prevent agenda – which is an understatement – and it wonders out loud if an official definition of Islamophobia, along the lines of that used for antisemitism, should be explored. But, as with so many of the numerous reports about British Muslims, the focus is always on Islam as a problem to be solved and the need to distinguish between good Muslims and bad Muslims.

This good Muslim/bad Muslim distinction has history, of course. It was precisely this distinction that the British colonial authorities used to separate the secular, wine-drinking, western-integrated, moderate Muslims who were prepared to collaborate with British rule and the suspiciously religious, uppity, bearded Muslims who refused to bend the knee to colonial power.

As the Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan has rightly pointed out, the good Muslim/bad Muslim distinction is entirely unhelpful, not least because it associates being good and moderate with some diminution of a Muslim’s religiosity. The distinction effectively says: if you are brown and pray more times a day than the local vicar then you should probably expect to have your phone tapped. [Guardian Cif] Read more

Keighley campaigner calls for more to be done to promote civic participation by British Muslim women

A KEIGHLEY-based campaigner said some Muslim communities in Britain still feature very few women in positions of authority.

Aisha Ali Khan was responding to a new report called “Missing Muslims: Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All”, the result of a commission sponsored by Citizens UK.

This study says more must be done to help Muslims fulfil their potential to benefit society.

Miss Khan said: “The report makes references to the barriers Muslim women face in terms of their participation in public life. In particular, clan politics have been singled out as a key factor that ‘stifles progress’.

“This isn’t something new or unusual. Many people involved in local politics where there’s a large population of Muslims have always cited this as an issue for both women and young people. [The Keighley News] Read more