After the successful launch of the ‘Don’t Hate, Debate!’ campaign in January 2015, and the huge support for its inaugural ‘The Big Question: How Free is Speech?’ event, the Islamic Education and Research Academy (iERA) will be holding a second cross-panel discussion next month to debate another contentious topic relating to the Muslim community, which has recently dominated the British media.
In light of the debunked Trojan Horse investigation in Birmingham, the passing of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, and the recent announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron of a new Counter-Extremism Bill, the discussion about the Muslim community’s acceptance of “British values” has been taking place in many circles amongst policymakers, academics and journalists.
During a climate of increasing Islamophobia and the rise of far-right groups in the UK, Muslims have found themselves once again in an uncomfortable position. Now they are at risk of being labelled “extremists” for supposedly failing to accept ‘British values’ – an arguably ambiguous term, which in reality has many different interpretations.
In recent months, Muslim schools, charities, mosques and speakers have been under immense pressure to subscribe to ‘British values’, something which is loosely defined but frequently used by some politicians and the media when labelling large sections of the Muslim community as “extreme”. Furthermore, when legitimate questions are asked and these ‘values’ scrutinised by Muslims, in many cases it is perceived as an alleged act of disloyalty to Britain.
Such issues, if left unaddressed, will inevitably lead to animosity and resentment towards the Muslim community due to a lack of understanding and interaction. Therefore, it is imperative for Muslims to have a nuanced discussion on whether Islam as a comprehensive belief system is compatible with what the UK Government has defined as ‘British values’. iERA seek to address this through its forthcoming ‘Don’t Hate, Debate! event in London.
This public event will take place on Friday 12th June 2015 in London, and will include well-known academics, journalists and activists. The main objective of organising such events is to create a platform for people with different religious and political views to engage in positive and civilised dialogue.