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    Speaking at City Circle later this week

    by Sunny
    12th March, 2007 at 12:45 am    

    City Circle invites you to a thought-provoking discussion on Friday, 16th March, “Independent Voices: Challenging the Myth of Monolithic Communities“, about internal criticism among “marginalised” or “minority” communities and how these communities should be more widely perceived. If there is a myth of a community monolith, whose interests does it serve?

    Politicians who want to outsource responsibility for dealing with diverse citizens by dealing with individual “community leaders” responsible for their own flock, expected to regulate themselves and their own problems. Or maybe “community leaders” benefit by promoting themselves and their own views by making everyone follow one particular line, and who may enact measures to silence or marginalise dissenting voices within their own communities. Or do those outside these communities who seek to stereotype and stigmatise communities by saying they are all the same benefit most by this arrangement?

    Or, or the other side of the argument, are these independent voices truly independent? Do they not merely reflect a dominant liberal consensus suspicious of difference? Do they serve to misconstrue community interests as always parochial and self-serving? Why are they often perceived or labelled as being “less religious” or “secular”? Do they have a positive agenda beyond criticising the parochial nature of community organisations? If dissent is often challenged within communities, what form does it take and is its power to marginalise overstated?

    City Circle has invited an expert panel, Ehsan Masood, Brian Klug and Sunny Hundal, to reflect on trials and tribulations of opening up debate and challenging “orthodoxy” from a comparative approach. Through this, the debate may allow us to understand the commonalities and distinctions between the Jewish, Muslim and Sikh experiences of these dynamics.

    Ehsan Masood is a writer and journalist based in London . He has written regularly for Prospect Magazine and OpenDemocracy on issues around community representation among British Muslims. He is the editor of two books published in 2006: Dry: Life Without Water (Harvard University Press) and How Do You Know: Reading Ziauddin Sardar on Islam, Science and Cultural Relations (Pluto Press, 2006). He also writes for New Scientist and is a consultant to the Science and Development Network.

    Dr. Brian Klug is Senior Research Fellow & Tutor in Philosophy at St. Benet’s Hall, Oxford . He is on the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University and the staff of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Oxford . An Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at the University of Southampton , he is Associate Editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice. He is a founder member of two groups: the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights (JFJHR) and Independent Jewish Voices (IJV). He has written and broadcast widely on race, antisemitism, Jewish identity, Zionism and related subjects.

    Sunny Hundal is founder of the thinktank New Generation Network. He is also editor of the online magazine Asians in Media and manages the group blog Pickled Politics, covering global current affairs and politics from a progressive standpoint. As a journalist and commentator, he has written for the Guardian, the Independent, The TImes and the Financial Times, on media and race-related issues. Last year, we was voted Guardian blogger of the year. An ardent environmentalist and liberal, he is a vegetarian and cares strongly about the oppression of people everywhere and the degradation of nature.

    All are welcome. Free entrance.

    On: 16 Mar 2007
    Independent Voices: Challenging the Myth of Monolithic Communities
    At: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place (off Edgware Road), London W1H 4LP
    Speakers: Ehsan Masood, Sunny Hundal and Dr Brian Klug

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Current affairs,Events

    14 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. zahed — on 12th March, 2007 at 11:36 am  

      See you there!

    2. Anna — on 12th March, 2007 at 12:29 pm  

      This looks like a fantastic talk and I’m sorry that I can’t make it. I hope that you’ll post your thoughts on the discussion that comes out of it.

    3. Jagdeep — on 12th March, 2007 at 12:36 pm  

      An ardent environmentalist and liberal, he is a vegetarian and cares strongly about the oppression of people everywhere and the degradation of nature.

      Can someone call an ambulance please? And start donating blood urgently, we need a transfusion. This heart is bleeding heavily.

    4. sonia — on 12th March, 2007 at 1:40 pm  

      all sorts of people “benefit”. there are clearly people ‘within’ communities who didn’t take kindly to the NGN manifesto for example, and similarly with the IJV. usually goes along the lines of ‘well they’re not that much like us’.. which seems to me to indicate at some level people have got an idea which is important to them. lots of muslims seem to be keen on the idea of monolithic muslim=ness = they may say they aren’t - but start going around behaving ‘out of line’ and watch what happens!

    5. sonia — on 12th March, 2007 at 1:41 pm  

      if there were no Politicians with a capital p do we thinks politics with a small p would be out? Nooo… someone/people would still be out to define what the ‘community’ was all about in the first place, and keep others in ‘line’.

    6. sonia — on 12th March, 2007 at 1:42 pm  

      why are they often labelled ‘less religious’.. well the answer to that is clear and simple. if you were religious in the conventional sense, you’d be too scared to speak out, that’s why.

    7. bananabrain — on 12th March, 2007 at 5:11 pm  

      i would like to come to this, but of course i can’t because it’s on a friday night (a problem with all city circle events so far) - might i suggest that this is PRECISELY THE PROBLEM; having a debate under such conditions as to exclude anybody who is religious enough to actually care. dr klug knows this i dare say - or perhaps he’s just avoiding debate with people who might be able to raise decent objections, or, as is more likely, seeking to preach to the converted.

      let him come and speak to jews for a change - nary a sign of “professor publicity” at jewish book week, for example:


      this sort of thing only makes me less likely to support IJV - in fact, my friend who signed it has this week withdrawn his support in protest at their grandstanding.

      in fact, shame on city circle for allowing themselves to be bamboozled like this.



    8. Sunny — on 12th March, 2007 at 5:44 pm  

      I think you’re being far too harsh BB. Firstly, CC always hold their events on Friday, after jumma prayers. I believe many Muslims can’t make it that day for that reason too. So you can’t blame them for this. Friday is the easiest day also given most of their regulars work in the city.

      Secondly, Dr Klug will be at the JPR event on the 29th. You can raise your objections then. He’s hardly running away from any debate.

    9. Fugstar — on 13th March, 2007 at 10:01 am  

      seen as less religious..

      because they are. no? why pretend? be honest. no ones going to burn you alive. chill.

      CC is primarily a platform for guardian reading accountant type muslims. the friday thing doesnt exclude muslims, we dont have a sabbath, its just kind convenient and institutionalised.

    10. Chairwoman — on 13th March, 2007 at 11:48 am  

      But the Friday thing does exclude observant Jews. It’s not a case of being afraid of being burnt alive, or of chilling, it’s about not being able to attend anything, apart from synagogue, on any Friday night.

    11. lithcol — on 13th March, 2007 at 11:11 pm  

      I am an ardent environmentalist, sorry gardener. I eat about half a cow, 40 chickens 1 pig, a couple of sheep, and a few unidentified creatures every year. I don’t give a dam about community leaders, white, black, yellow or brown. Most are self appointed tossers.

      I am active in supporting the downtrodden and ignored in this country and when I the have time for the rest of humanity who are oppressed by theocratic and other autocratic regimes. But most off all I ensure that my immediate and extended family are taken care of first.

      I read the Guardian because I am a masochist, but I must admit it also keeps my aging brain honed.

      I also like puncturing the egos of worthier than though posers and gasbags. Although of course they usually lack insight, so it is a bit of a waste of time. .

    12. Refresh — on 13th March, 2007 at 11:33 pm  

      I would suggest CC consider different days to allow observant jews to attend. But can’t see that its an attempt to exclude jews.

      BB does however make an interesting point. That by having Fridays it excludes. I recall when I first joined the fray on Pickled Politics, in my naive way I suggested that one of the reasons why muslims may not be so active in politics in general is most of the politics is actually done after the meetings in the pubs. Having experienced it for well over a decade, I knew this to be a fact. But the view was rejected outright - muslims should get over it and go to the pubs, they don’t have to drink, its their problem.

      So I am glad to see a change of heart now we are saying we should do what we can to be inclusive.

    13. bananabrain — on 14th March, 2007 at 2:33 pm  

      sunny - i’m not blaming city circle, but they don’t seem to know the first thing about judaism if this is intended as a forum. tony klug of course should know, but i dare say it works in his favour if the only jews that show up are the ones who don’t care what happens on friday night.

      Secondly, Dr Klug will be at the JPR event on the 29th. You can raise your objections then. He’s hardly running away from any debate.

      well, the event still isn’t up on the JPR website - unless i’m missing something. ( http://www.jpr.org.uk/events/index.php ) and i hope i can make it, because otherwise you’ll probably accuse me of running away from the debate, although, frankly, i don’t really see it as my mission in life to challenge the klugs of this world - i myself support the idea of free expression, if not the aims or tactics of IJV.

      secondly, speaking at jpr is hardly what i’d call engaging with the community. bear in mind that (according to my highly placed and eminently trustworthy source at the jewish chronicle) the actual jewish grass-roots *community* (as opposed to the BoD and official organisations that IJV criticises) is 99.6% opposed to IJV, if you take into account the fact that of the thousand letters that were written in about it, only four were written in support. and, let me tell you, that’s a lot more letters than normally get written about anything. dr klug ought to come to somewhere like limmud, perhaps - robert fisk (who is hardly flavour of the month) at least accepted that particular challenge.

      But can’t see that its an attempt to exclude jews.

      i don’t believe it’s done deliberately, particularly given that i know CC always do stuff on friday anyway. however, it is notable for its convenience to dr klug and he is hardly a stupid or ignorant man.

      one of the reasons why muslims may not be so active in politics in general is most of the politics is actually done after the meetings in the pubs. Having experienced it for well over a decade, I knew this to be a fact. But the view was rejected outright - muslims should get over it and go to the pubs, they don’t have to drink, its their problem.

      i agree with most of this, insofar as a lot of corporate bonding is done down the pub on friday night - but for me, it’s not a question of going down the pub and not drinking. my time cannot be spent in the pub on friday night, pure and simple; i can’t travel there and i can’t use a wallet and i have to be home by the time it gets dark. besides, there is other stuff that i am obliged to be doing - so the cases aren’t actually comparable. if you want to be inclusive, try another night.



    14. fugstar — on 14th March, 2007 at 6:32 pm  

      Hmm, there are planty of opps for observent jewish bredren to come partake in hip and trendy muslim charactered activity. CC being on fridays fits with the shape of ‘our’ weeks, engaging with the jewish community through the friday discussions is not the chief aim. CC is one of those rare neutral (kinda) spaces for muslims in london.

      There are other forums like joint scriptural readings and what not that you might want to look out for..

      The pub thing. It up to the individuals to make their ethical choices in that regard. Bonding happens in other spaces too. Pubcentricity is really quite school boy come to think of it.

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