Monday, 21 May 2012

PoliticsUK interviews Faisal Hanjra, Assistant Secretary of Muslim Council of Britain. 26/1/12

  • .

      • Richard Frazer We are now appoaching the beginning of the Q&A so I would like to take this moment to introduce Dr Faisal Hanjra to the community of PoliticsUK.
        26 January at 19:52 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Hello and welcome :)

      • Puk Guest Hello! Thank you for having me.
        26 January at 19:55 ·  ·

      • Richard Frazer Not a problem and thanks for being here. If you are ready we will shortly begin by asking you a selection of quesitons our contributors have sent in over the last couple of weeks.

      • Richard Frazer First Question:
        There is 1.6 million Muslims in the UK. What are the main aims and objectives for the Muslim Council of Britain?

      • Puk Guest Our primary aims consist of the following:
        i To promote cooperation, consensus and unity on Muslim affairs in the UK.
        ii To encourage and strengthen all existing efforts being made for the benefit of the Muslim community.
        iii To work for a more enlightened appreciation of Islam and Muslims in the wider society.
        iv To establish a position for the Muslim community within British society that is fair and based on due rights.
        v To work for the eradication of disadvantages and forms of discrimination faced by Muslims.
        vi To foster better community relations and work for the good of society as a whole

        26 January at 20:00 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Thankyou. Our second quesition:
        Do you believe that the Muslim community position within British society is a fair position?

      • Puk Guest Quite what a fair position is, is difficult to define. As with any community there are numerous challenges we face, which subsequently has impaced on our 'position in society.' Since the tragic events of 7/7 and prior to that 9/11 as a diverse community I think our challenges have been far more complex and much more intricate. Rather than dealing with relatively straight forward issues we’ve had to tackle the more complicated issue of terrorism. That has, I believe, to some extent raised challenges. Britain remains a fantastic place to live in as a Muslim but there are increasing number of Islamophobic incidences which we all, as a society, must be worried about.
        26 January at 20:04 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Probably a related question then: What disadvantages and forms of discrimination are being faced by Muslims and how can the MCB eradicate them?

      • Puk Guest The most pressing issue we face as mentioned above is probably the issue of Islamophobia. The number of physical attacks on Muslims and institutions they attend have increased over the last few years. These attacks range from simple graffiti being sprayed on mosque premises to actual attempts to blow some of these places up, quite shocking when you think that this is Britain in 2012. The causes for this increase are numerous and range from poor media reporting to blatant racism. But it’s something which needs to be looked at urgently. The MCB continues to work with a variety of organisations, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to urgently redress this issue.
        While this remains perhaps the most pressing issue, we do need to look at other problems, such as why certain elements of the Muslim community come from some of the most socially and economically deprived parts of the county.

        26 January at 20:07 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Does the UK’s current immigration policy help promote good community relations?

      • Puk Guest In the context of resource limitation, strain on resources etc, it is important that the debate around immigration is sensible and balanced. And far more importantly it's centred around facts rather than emotion. To that extent anything which puts pressure on local communities can lead to tension and immigration is one of the issues that can have that sort of impact. So it's important that any policy is balanced and rationale.
        26 January at 20:12 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer OK a difficult one. How can the MCB combat Islamophobia in the UK?
        26 January at 20:13 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest It's important that politicians lead the way on the issue and not a shy away from addressing legitimate concerns. But we shouldn't allow the far right, sensationalist media reporting and irrational fears skew the outcome of any debate.
        26 January at 20:13 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Which Party does the MCB support and why?

      • Puk Guest Sorry the post above was regarding immigration. In regards to Richard's next question about Islamophobia. In the first instance we need to ensure we’re working hard to highlight the issue and bring it to the attention of wider society. The UK has a strong history of opposing racism and discrimination. Then I think we need to look to some of the underlying causes of racism. At the Leveson Inquiry recently the Editor of a tabloid newspaper was grilled around how her newspaper poorly covered issues relating to the Muslim Community. Just yesterday another tabloid newspaper ran a headline exclaiming ‘Strict Muslim raped 4 women at knife point’ as if his religion had anything to do with this vicious and despicable crime. The judge pointed out explicitly that the actions of this individual was in direct contradiction to the ‘strict’ Muslim lifestyle his family had adopted. The significant attention sections of the media gives to small and controversial organisations, Muslims Against Crusaders for example, also continues to perpetuate this myth that somehow the Muslim community is alien and anti-British. So I think this should be looked at in terms of addressing the wider issue of Islamophobia.
        Internally as a community we need to do more to ensure that we’re getting the message of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim out to wider society. We need to ensure we’re not allowing small fringe Muslim organisations to hijack our ‘cause.’ We need to be working harder to challenge the myths that racist organisations like the BNP and EDL pump out, and ensuring that racism wherever it is, is highlighted and tackled appropriately.

        26 January at 20:15 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest In regards to which political party the MCB supports, that's an easy one - none in particular! We work with everyone and anyone on issues of common interest.
        26 January at 20:17 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Next question: What are the MCB roles both inside and outside of politics? And how would you respond to the argument that there is no place in politics for religion?

      • Puk Guest The MCB works with all three main political parties to represent issues that are of particular concerns to the Muslim community. And that can be anything from the state of the economy to the need to address Islamophobia, or from issues around climate change to issues of young people doing well at school. It's very broad. Within the Muslim community we work with other organisations to ensure greater democratic participation and awareness of rights and responsibilities.
        26 January at 20:20 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer The MCB have set up a programme called The Footsteps, involving establishing role models for the Muslim youth. How is this programme progressing?

      • Puk Guest Religion has been a force for good in this country, the Queen remains the head of the Church of England, so it's been central to much of the workings of our various systems. Just yesterday the Church played an important role in defeating elements of the govt's welfare bill based on their views around social justics. So relgiion plays an important and positive role in our democratic workings.
        26 January at 20:22 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Thank you Faisal :
        What is your response to groups like EDL and BNP and should they be allowed to participate in the political process?

        26 January at 20:23 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest Footsteps was a programmed launched in 2007 around mentoring young people, it's unfortunately come to an end but was a positive initiative which we'll look to review in the future in regards to its potential to be pushed out again.

      • Puk Guest The EDL remain a problematic organisation because of the racism they espouse. Their marches, in various towns across the country, bring fear to communities and to that extent it's important that the police and government recognise them for what they are - a racist organisation. I'm not aware of a definitive position that the MCB has on the issue, banning any organisation from the political process is problematic and contrary to our way of life in this country and the values we stand for, and that's whether it's a Muslim or a non-Muslim organisation. Often the best way to counter and defeat the sort of bigotry these organisations espouse is to show them publicly for what they are rather than ban them and drive them underground. But certainly no community should have to fear going out of their own homes and the police and CPS should prosecute aggressively any inidividual or organisation that falls foul of relevant legislation, and where legislation is poorly defined or non-existent, the government should look to tighten that up.
        26 January at 20:30 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Next question: What future role will moderates have in helping to deal with dangers of extremists and do you feel that there is enough support from the state in helping moderates combat extremism?

      • Puk Guest The language and terminology used around dealing with the issue of terrorism has been problematic - in so far as different people meaning different things when using the same language! The various Muslim communities remains a key partner in tackling the tiny number of individuals who think it's acceptable to commit criminal actions in the form of terrorism. And the MCB plays a crucial role in that.
        26 January at 20:33 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Thank you : In which way(s) can the MCB promote cooperation, consensus and unity on Muslim affairs in the UK?

      • Puk Guest We remain an important platform via which different Muslim organisations, that represent different aspects of our large and diverse community, can come together and tackle common issues. We work hard to act as a catalyst to bring a common voice to some of the most difficult and divisive issues, not always with success I might add! But we try! :)
        26 January at 20:37 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer A senstive one now:
        What is the MCB view of Al Qu’eda?

      • Puk Guest I think it's common sense really. As any right minded individual or organisation, we condemn terrorism in any form and those organisations that seek it commit it.
        26 January at 20:38 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer So what are your thoughts on the Arab Spring uprising?

      • Puk Guest 
        The Arab Spring has been so inspiring. If someone told me a year and a half ago that at the beginning of 2012 Gaddafi would be gone, Mubarek of Egypt on trial, and Ben Ali of Tunisia would be gone, I wouldn't have believe them. I think there is a lot we can learn here in the UK from what has taken place across the world, in particular the sheer power of the people to achieve something when they set their minds to it, democracy in its purest sense!

        26 January at 20:41 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Do the MCB think that “hate laws” are divisive?

      • Puk Guest Not particularly. Often this sort of legislation has arisen out of a real need to address an underlying problem.
        26 January at 20:45 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Thank you . What is the MCB stance on publications which promote bigotry?

      • Puk Guest I think we need to always strike a balance between the freedoms we enjoy in this country, freedom of speech etc, and the need to ensure we don't create division, incite hatred and cause fear amongst vulnerable communities, and that's a difficult balancing act. We would always come out strongly against anything that causes the later, while working hard to protect the former!
        26 January at 20:48 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer An interesting fact that I have learnt is that although Muslims make up just five per cent of the population they consume an estimated 20 per cent of all lamb and mutton produced in Britain. On that note, can you explain the importance of Halal meat?

      • Puk Guest I'm not aware of actual statistics around the issue, that is an interesting fact! The importance of halaal meat, like kosher in the Jewish tradition, is to ensure that animals are treated humanely and with dignity while alive, and on being killed for food, are killed in a way that spares them suffering.
        26 January at 20:51 ·  ·

      • Richard Frazer Is there ghettoisation taken place within the UK and what are you views on “Muslim-only” areas?
        26 January at 20:52 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest 
        Ghettoisation - carries a lot of bagage! There are obviously areas where a lot of Muslims live, just like there are a lot of areas where Korean or Chinese or Indian people live, people tend to gravitate to where they are most comfortable and that is often where there are oher people like them! We see migratory patterns often, so in the East End of London initially there was a large Jewish community, they then settled, and moved out, now we see the Muslim community predominantly, as they become more affluent more and more of them are moving out to other areas, I'm sure in thirty years time the East End of London will look very different.

      • Puk Guest And I have yet to visit a Muslim only area!
        26 January at 20:55 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer ‎(only one more after this and we will move to todays questions)

      • Richard Frazer Is Poverty prominent in the Muslim Community?

      • Puk Guest That's a difficult question and I don't have a lot of information to hand regarding the facts and figures. There are ares of significant poverty within the community but that's countered by areas of quite some wealth. But I guess a straight answer to your question is probably no, I don't think poverty is prominent in the Muslim community.

      • Richard Frazer Last of the presubmitted questions:
        What do the Muslims of Britain have to teach the rest of the UK about family values?

      • Puk Guest We're well placed to remind, perhaps more than teach, society just exactly how important family values are. Family values have always been an important part of British society, but we're losing that fast within society as a whole. Within the Muslim community the centrality of the family structure and values has remained an integral part of life.
        26 January at 21:01 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Thank you for sticking through them. SOme were tough questions I'm sure

      • Richard Frazer Are you ready to move to our contributers questions today. Or need a rest?

      • Puk Guest happy to move to contributors questions

      • Richard Frazer Brilliant - First question: Is there much support for (Scottish) independence amongst Scottish Muslims?

      • Puk Guest Scottish Muslims, that I've met, are very defined by their Scottish nationality and are patriotically Scottish! So, anecdotally, I think their views wouldn't be much different to what's trending in wider Scottish society.
        26 January at 21:06 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Why did MCB state on their website that muslim women who don't wear headscarves are not proper muslims?

      • Puk Guest 
        I have honestly never seen that posted or that link in particular. If you were just to attend one of our meetings, or looked perhaps through the pictures of some of our events, you would see a fairly diverse expression of clothing worn by everybody and anybody there! To directly answer the question, the idea that Muslim women who don't cover are not 'proper' Muslims is certainly not our position or a view that we would condone!

        26 January at 21:09 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer 
        I live in Newham in East London and we have a reasonably prominate muslim member on our e-democracy forum who claims that as the borough is mainly inhabited by muslims all the schools should be trated as Islamic faith schools that allow none muslin students - Howe do you and your fellow council members go about moderating such extremist views within the community to enhance social coheasion and is their aything that we in the non-islamic community should be doing to assist in this?

      • Puk Guest It's difficult to comment on the specifics of the question, but commenting more generally it is important that just because there happen to be a lot of Muslims in a particular area that somehow the needs of the non-Muslim community are put on the backburner. If there is anything we can do at the MCB to help with this situation specifically do drop us an email.
        26 January at 21:13 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer What is your opinion about the Church of England's official role in British politics? Would you like to see this reformed in any way? And if so would you like to see religions not being so directly involved, or would your prefer to see other religions also involved, such that representation matches the demographic makeup of the UK?

      • Puk Guest I have a lot of respect for the Church of England and I think it's an important organisation in the workings of our national politics. I think religion generally, and this is a Christian country so it's right that this is manifested through the Church of England, has a huge amount to offer to society. And that should be recognised.
        26 January at 21:16 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Does your association protect just muslims or do you mean to represent the people generally of this country? Because according to your religion, people who do not follow Allah should be 'hated' by muslims. Not a personal hate of course - but how do you think this division is going to help you to integrate with a non muslim community?"
        26 January at 21:16 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest 
        Our organisation is a membership body and to that extent represents fundamentally our affiliates. While we work primarily to represent these organisations we know that the problems faced by the Muslim community are problems which are faced by many non-Muslims in this country. And so when we work on particular issues we work to benefit, hopefully (!), wider society. So our work on crime, or mentoring young people, or work around addressing social inequality, should be something that benefits everybody.

        26 January at 21:19 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Very nice answer

      • Jean Eveleigh ‎"it is important that just because there happen to be a lot of Muslims in a particular area that somehow the needs of the non-Muslim community are put on the backburner" - I hope you missed the word NOT out of this statement or it will do little to help with comunity cohesion
        26 January at 21:20 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Islamophobia" can stem from the perception that Muslims create their own communities within a community, thus cutting themseves off. Are Muslims doing enough to integrate into the wider community?

      • Sofi Couvot What do you think of the movement 'occupy the mosque' that fights for more empowerment of Muslim women as per Tehmina Kazi's description in the Guardian (dated 13-01-2012) and generally speaking about feminism and gender equality?
        26 January at 21:21 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest 
        I think there is certainly some truth in that, and as I mentioned earlier we need to work harder to tackle some of the issues within our own community. I think the issue of not going out and doing more to engage, is something which isn't just unique to the Muslim community, but is common across various minority communities. I think the issue has been highlighted within our community primarily because of issues around counter-terrorism etc. So there are amazing examples of Muslims integrated, you see that in the City of London, at Banks, large accountancy firms, hospitals, etc but there are some examples where more needs to be done. And we're committed, with our limited resources, to working on that!

        26 January at 21:23 ·  ·  

      • Richard Frazer Fantastic work there Faisal and I know we have run severely over time
        26 January at 21:24 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest With partners and friends of course!

      • Richard Frazer Thank you for all your responses.

      • Richard Frazer We know there are still many unanswered questions so we will gather them up and Faisel has agreed to answer them for us by return later
        26 January at 21:24 ·  · 

      • Puk Guest Sorry I missed the word NOT on the above post regarding the non-Muslim and Muslim community living in the same area, thank you pointing that out!
        26 January at 21:25 ·  · 

      • Richard Frazer Well I would like to say a massive thank you to Faisal and his team at MCB for allowing this event to happen and we wish you all the best in the future
        26 January at 21:26 ·  · 

      • Sofi Couvot OK i am waiting for my answer then or I will occupy PUK!
        26 January at 21:27 ·  ·  

      • Puk Guest In regards to the status quo of mosques and, gender equality and women participation, there has been significant progress over the last few years, and we can see that for example in the building of a multi-million pound section at the East London Mosque, dedicated specifically for women (on top of the current prayer space), more though needs to be done.

      • Puk Guest And I'm hopeful we'll see further change over the next few years.

    • * Dr Faisal Hanjra used the PUK Guest Account as he has not got a Facebook profile

No comments:

Post a Comment