Author Archives: Fiyaz Mughal

Opinion: Clegg is right on multiculturalism

A matter of hours after his party finished a humiliating sixth in the Barnsley Central by-election, Nick Clegg’s ‘Muscular Liberalism’ speech gave him an opportunity to appease disillusioned party members ahead of the spring conference. Amid the continuous onslaught of accusations of ‘selling out’, Clegg’s defense of multiculturalism showed clear water between his policy and that of the Conservatives.

In this speech, Clegg highlighted an indisputable split in the Coalition Government’s approach to tackling extremism. The deputy prime minister showed that he is unwilling to compromise on the communities agenda that remains the Liberal Democrats’ strongest suit amongst the inevitable compromises …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Syria’s ban proves nothing to British niqab critics

As the Syrian Government introduces a ban on the niqab in universities, the debate on Islamic veils has moved beyond Europe and into a wider discussion about personal freedom and national identity.

A niqab ban in a Middle Eastern country will give weight to those British critics who claim that their objections are grounded in values, not race, and the UK’s Muslim community will face scrutiny once more. The opinion formed by armchair pundits is that the niqab is not acceptable to our British values, but is it a threat to them?

The government of Syria saw veils as a destabilising force, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 26 Comments

Event: Future Challenges and Opportunities for Faith Communities (30/7/09)

Faith communities are increasingly playing a role in civil renewal and regeneration activities throughout the UK. From the provision of social services, through to policy development, faith communities are shaping their interaction with a number of key bodies and individuals and this conference looks at creating a space for dialogue around the future challenges and opportunities that there are for faith communities.

Creating Spaces for Dialogue Programme: What are Future Challenges and Opportunities for Faith Communities? A half-day conference for practitioners, organisational leaders and social change activists aimed at creating dialogue with policy shapers and makers on faith and faith communities

This …

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Opinion: The Horn of Africa and Radicalisation

In the run up to the next election, Labour are going to lay a number of charges against the Liberal Democrats, some of which will attempt to paint our Party as being ‘soft’ on issues of safety and security. Labour has consistently tried to push this, and at the forefront of their strategy will be the charge that the Lib Dems have no coherent strategy to tackle radicalisation and extremism.

Over the last the years, the Government’s PREVENT strategy has been based on five key strands. These have included: challenging the violent extremist ideology; disrupting those who promote violent extremism; supporting individuals who are being targeted and recruited to the cause of violent extremism; increasing the resilience of communities; and addressing the grievances that ideologues are exploiting.

Having had the opportunity to work on PREVENT programmes with various government departments, I know the vast amount of work that is being undertaken on this agenda, with new and innovative thinking playing a role in ensuring safety and security. Yet for me, there is always a fear that communities may be labelled and marginalised, although the Government’s language has become much more sensitive recently. The more important fear is not that certain faith communities will be labelled, it is about the potential impacts on the civil liberties of Muslim and other Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities.

Things have moved on significantly since the initial Pathfinder PREVENT programmes were implemented in certain local authorities in 2007/08. Local authorities are starting clearly to differentiate between PREVENT work and community cohesion, though there are common strands. The language of PREVENT is more sensitive, yet preventing violent extremism is clearly stated as being part of the programme of work, even though projects may be labelled in softer ways. Also, many more Muslim civil society groups are applying for funding compared to the few that applied in the initial Pathfinder programmes. So, things are moving on, and the PREVENT work is bedding down in communities.

I am concerned that we do not get caught out by Labour’s charges, and think a detailed analysis of what is taking place on the ground needs to be disseminated to key stakeholders so that we can understand the complexity of the issues around violent extremism. The Government and security agencies have, for example, developed threat assessment frameworks that are related to certain towns and cities in the UK; suffice to say that, even if suspected individuals who can and will carry our violent actions leave the city, it may still be regarded as being an area at risk.

More importantly, the horn of Africa and in particular, the continuing civil war in Somalia, may lead to real problems here in the UK.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 2 Comments



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