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Behind the scenes

Posted By Sunny On 24th August, 2007 @ 9:18 am In Current affairs, Organisations, Muslim | Comments Disabled

I recently received an invitation to an event (that I can’t go to) but thought it was interesting to use it as a way of highlighting a point.

Without revealing details of where and when it is (it’s invite only), here is an edited extract from the conference plan.


Towards a National Muslim Communities Development Network - Filling the Void
Day 1:

Welcome by the Coordinators
Nadeem Kazmi & Mohsin Abbas
The Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP, Communities and Local Government Secretary, Department for Communities and Local Government*

10:30-12:40 Keynote Speakers
10:30am Mohammed Abdul Aziz*, UK / Dr Hesham Hellyer*, Brookings Institute, Washington, DC
Seeking an Agenda for Change - Towards a National Muslim Development Network

10:45am Shaykh Arif Abdulhussein, Al-Mahdi Institute, Birmingham
Tackling Extremism - An Islamic Theological Imperative

11:00am Q&A

11:30am Mahan Abedin, Centre for the Study of Terrorism, London / Munir Zamir, Active Change Foundation, London
Viewing Counter-Terrorism from a Muslim Community Perspective

11:45am Nafeez Ahmed, University of Sussex
Are Muslims Forever Hostage to 9/11? Why a National Development Network is Necessary

12noon Q&A

12:30-2:30pm Buffet Lunch & Prayers
Performance by Roxanna Panufnik*
Classical Pianist and Composer

2:30-4:30pm Workshops, incorporating Case Study Presentations
(a) Theological Responses - Rapporteur: Shaykh Michael Mumisa / Maulana Shahid Raza*
(b) Education - Dr Tahir Abbas / Shahid Akmal
(c) Security - Munir Zamir / Nafeez Ahmed
(d) Interfaith - Julian Bond / Dr Phyllis Starkey MP

DAY 2:
10:30-10:30 Opening
Welcome by the Coordinators
Nadeem Kazmi & Mohsin Abbas
The Rt Hon James Purnell, Culture Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport
Shaykh Prof Tahir ul-Qadri, Minhaj ul-Qur’an International, Islamabad

10:30-12:40 Keynote Speakers
10:30am Ahmed Larouz, Mex-IT, Amsterdam
Social Welfare and the Relevance of Service Delivery in Tackling Extremism at the Grassroots - A Cross-Communities Perspective of a Muslim Communities Development Network

10:45am Luqman Ali, Khayaal Theatre Company, Luton
The Relevance of A “Cultural Approach” in Confronting Extremism at the Grassroots - Developing Muslim Communities Through Effective Networks

11:00am Q&A

11:30am Ben Harburg, NATO, Berlin / Bashy Quraishi
Commission for European Politics / Board for Ethnic EqualityCopenhagen

Countering Terrorism Across Multiple Cultures
11:45am The Rt Hon Hazel Blears MP*, Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government
The Government Angle - introducing Funding and Other Initiatives

2:30-4:30pm Workshops, incorporating Case Study Presentations
(a) Media - Rapporteur: Syed Mohsin Abbas / Mahmood Jamal / Murtaza Shah
(b) Arts & Culture - Luqman Ali / Mo Nazam
(c) Women as Leaders - Parvin Ali / Humera Khan* / Tasneem Zaidi
(d) Community Cohesion - Yousiff Meah / Dr Phyllis Starkey MP


Now my point is this. In the past year or so I’ve received a ton of these invitations or heard about such events taking place. We say that Muslims hear about terrorism in the media all the time… but there is also a big class of Muslims who are constantly trying to grapple with it.

Of course, some of this is related to government money to “eradicate terrorism” etc. But the point is, no one can accuse British Muslims of not talking about the problems facing families within the community. Whether these events actually achieve anything is another issue.

I suspect those simple-minded people who get attracted to violent jihadi groups are unlikely to be persuaded by the British Muslim Chattering Classes in the short term anyway. In the medium term the conversations may lead to more concrete and useful action that actually leads to a fizzling out of tension, and a better mapping of what needs to be done to eradicate violent extremism.

My view of the future is thus fairly positive. Change takes time and, broadly speaking, events are moving in the right direction to tackle violent extremism. My reason for posting this event was just to provide a typical example of what is going on across the country.

Comments Disabled To "Behind the scenes"

#1 Comment By Sofia On 24th August, 2007 @ 9:50 am

pity humera khan has been pidgeon holed into talking about women..she has a lot to say besides..even if she works for al nisa…esp when you look at the work they are doing with men…and its a pity orgs like the one she is part of weren’t listened to in the 80s when they were crying out for funding

#2 Comment By AsifB On 24th August, 2007 @ 11:36 am

Not one but 2 days with Hazel Blears, I don’t blame you for staying away Sunny.

There’s some good people there of course, but the schools, streets, shops and media where people live and socialise have more impact than opinion former conferences.

What you need to reduce alienation amongst young men is for more people (including Muslims) to see Muslims more as people and less as Muslims.

#3 Comment By Sofia On 24th August, 2007 @ 11:42 am

The difficulty Asif, is where do “ordinary” Muslims congregate? People would say the mosque and to an extent that is true, but mainly that would be on a Friday or during Ramadan…for the younger generation. For the older retired generation who do “hang around” the mosques, I think they may not be receptive to new innovative ideas. For muslim women i think the mosque is not exactly a place they are going to looking to for forward thinking reform…It’s sad but I’m pretty fed up with mosques when it comes to representing women. If there by some miracle happens to be a woman on a mosque committee, she’s only there to represent “womens issues” something the conference mentioned in the post has done little to change either…are most of the speakers men? the women are mostly talking on womens’ issues again..do we have nothing else to contribute to??? are Muslim mothers not worth talking to? the ones that are bringing up the next generation..what about the female political thinkers..or don’t women think outside the kitchen?

#4 Comment By AsifB On 24th August, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

Sofia (no 3) : A very good question “where do “ordinary” Muslims congregate?.” I suggested the “schools, streets, shops and media where people live and socialise” and agree with you that in the main its not actually the mosque, just as it is not usally the church for others.

Obviously home and family are the other areas that count.

Agree that its a pity that women are pigeon holed by events such as this as only being interested in women’s issues. The same applies I think for Muslims.

Pigeon holing only serves an agenda where people do not ‘count’ as Muslims if they don’t look and think a certain way.

#5 Comment By Sofia On 24th August, 2007 @ 2:17 pm

totally agree about the looking and acting a certain way…
i always get really mad at these young muslim guys who hand out leaflets on Islam on the streets…well instead of talking about Islam and how wonderful it is,why not do something productive like taking kids off the streets (regardless of their religion or ethnicity)…surely actions speak louder than words…

#6 Comment By Chris Paul On 27th August, 2007 @ 12:47 pm

school gates is good
not particularly in Hazel’s constituency though

#7 Comment By Layla Sheriff On 5th September, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

Hi there,
First of all, I would like to say that the negative response by certain individuals here can have a damaging affect not only on this event, but on the Muslim ummah in general. This conference is a great way for muslims to unite and discuss issues that affect all of us. On a final note, if we wish to better the current conditions that we muslims face, then it is up to us to unite as one and make our voice heard. But it is never helpful to sit back and criticise people who have put their heart and soul into making life better for all of us. So I say this to you now, if you wish to make a difference then get off the computer and attend this event, because it is only by doing this, that your voice can be heard.

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