Event Report: Debating Spying Allegations at the House of Lords

Following this, The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) and Lord Ahmed of Rotherham convened a meeting at  the House of Lords on 27th October 2009, to discuss the revelations that the PREVENT program involved  spying on individuals from the Muslim community thereby having damaging implications on present and future communal relations.

Opening the discussion, Lord Ahmed  remarked the seriousness of the stories that were emerging from the PREVENT program but stressed that ‘ it should not be mistaken that to be critical of the PVE agenda, one was against preventing violent extremism, rather that it was those at the forefront of preventing violent extremism who the ones voicing their loudest concerns about the current PVE program’

Also addressing a broad spectrum of guests including academics, politicians, community leaders and the media, were speakers including Arun Kundnani (author of ‘Spooked:How not to prevent violent extremism’ published by  the Institute of Race Relations), Dr Phyliss Starkey (Chair, Communities and Local Government Select Committee), Dr Muhammad Abdul-Bari (Secretary-General, Muslim Council of Britain), Saleh Mamon (Campaign Against Criminalising Communities) and Robert Lambert MBE (former head of Scotland Yard’s Muslim Contact Unit and Co Founding Director of European Muslim Research Centre).

Speakers were unanimous that whilst measures to tackle violent extremism were justified, this should not be at the expense of people’s civil liberties and creating suspicion, distrust and division with and between communities, especially amongst Muslims.  Arun Kundnani highlighted the issue of surveillance and the safeguarding of human rights, he said “individuals particularly youth are being targeted in terms of their political and religious views which is leading to a process of depoliticisation amongst the youth”.

Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation, Anas Altikriti, noted “that great strides to engage Muslim youth in particular, within the political process would have been wasted if the youth are made to feel that their political views are irrelevant.”

Saleh Mamon focussed on the erosion of civil liberties and the potential damage to social cohesion caused by PREVENT, whilst Robert Lambert provided evidence from his experience within counter terrorism of best practices for dealing with violent extremists.

In closing the meeting, Anas Altikriti announced TCF will hold future meetings to further the discussion on the PREVENT program and to identify possible strategies for improvement.

The discussion report is available to be downloaded here

Ramadan Mubarak 1430 / 2009

Ramadan Mubarak 1430 / 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Faith and Humanity

As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum Wa Rahmatullah (Peace and Blessings be Upon You)

As the blessed month of Ramadan knocks at our door, we would like to congratulate you on this Holy Month.

We are all travellers on the same path, struggling to seek Allah’s pleasure.  The price to acquire the traits of self control, serenity, awareness and respect of the other is a permanent personal battle against our innermost evil desires. Death, life, experiences, ordeals, pain, solitude, joy and happiness, are lessons to be learnt and taught on this journey.

The most beautiful and the most difficult lesson to be learnt on this journey? That our final destination is to find Allah and that can only be done by reconciling with the deepest level of our being (al-fitra) – the original light that Allah breathed into our hearts. Thus the secret of life is hidden in the place from which you set out.

A wise man once said, ‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and power to choose our response. In those choices lie our growth and happiness.

Such is the meaning of profound spirituality. We are responsible for the actions we take and within these actions there is a reminder. For within this space, there is God and one’s heart, as the Qur’an reminds us: “…and know that [the knowledge of] God lies between the human being and his heart.”

Hence within this space everyone is asked to take up a dialogue of intimacy, sincerity and love with The Most-High. Within this space is the horizon of all spirituality requiring man to acquire a force of being and doing, rather than to undergo despotic relentlessness of a life reduced to mere instinct. Within this space, we marry the purpose of our existence with the purpose of our subsistence.

The Holy Month of Ramadan enables us to rediscover and reform this space whilst soothing one’s heart close to the recognition of the Creator. Close to the awareness of The One is the comprehension of the message of the Qur’an, its words and inspirations.  To serve humanity with the higher purpose of peace and equity… To awaken your conscience in the proximity of the wounds and the injustices people face… To move away from bad thoughts and the darkest dimensions of one’s being.

At the heart of our consumer society, where materialism and individualism drive our daily lives, the Blessed Month of Ramadan reinforces our personal effort and commitment, invites us towards the deep horizons of introspection and meaning, reminds us of silence,

restraint and remembrance, and inculcates the importance of detail, precision, rigour and discipline of practice.

The Blessed Month of Ramadan is a feast of the faith of fraternal atmosphere that is shared with all brothers and sisters, to portray the humility and compassion of the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) towards the downtrodden and distressed, irrespective of culture and creed. Ramadan is about realizing a prophetic vision of a just world and  reflecting it in our mindset, etiquette, and actions, so that we become 21st century ambassadors of the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him): advocating justice, compassion and love; reminding ourselves of the role he played in promoting education, entrepreneurship, caring for the elderly, caring for people with disabilities, love for the people of other faiths, and caring for the neighbor.

So this Ramadan let us undertake a journey, ‘a journey back to the beginning’; a journey that is, completely inward, into intimacy, solitude between ourselves and our self – in the place where there is no longer anyone but God, and our self. This Ramadan let us reconcile disputes between families and friends as a sign of the remembrance of God. This Ramadan, let us strive to reinforce this remembrance of God and to remember our duties with the people, for to be with God is to be with the people. This Ramadan let us not only journey into intimacy and solitude within our self, but inculcate our responsibility as creations of God to serve humanity

Ramadan Mubarak and many happy returns

Event Report: Commemorating Peace in The Sudan

Event Report: Commemorating Peace in The Sudan

A high-level roundtable convened at the House of Lords on 26 February, commemorated the 4th Anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in The Sudan. Hosted by The Cordoba Foundation and Baroness Uddin, the roundtable provided a meeting point of diverse viewpoints, to analyse and assess the positive outcomes as well as the challenges that have emerged in the signing of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement in The Sudan.

Baroness Pola Uddin opened the proceedings stating “this was a very worthwhile meeting of experts, analysts, diplomats and people concerned with peace and dialogue in The Sudan”. Before congratulating The Cordoba Foundation for staging the event, she paid tribute to Lord Nazir Ahmed – who due to unfortunate circumstances could not be present at the meeting, for his contribution to furthering stability and peace in The Sudan and for initially sponsoring the roundtable.

Guest speakers addressed a range of issues, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as a model for the future, the links between the CPA and the Darfur Peace Agreement and the role of the International Criminal Court.

The Sudanese Ambassador in Britain H.E. Omer Siddiq welcomed the discussion which he said “was a step in the right direction and The Cordoba Foundation and Baroness Uddin ought to be applauded for this”. Other speakers included Ex-Minister of Sudan Foreign Affairs Dr Lam Akol who is also a member of the pre-dominantly Christian SPLM; former minister Dr Ghazi Salahuddin, who is Advisor to the Sudanese President and leader of the Majority in the Sudanese Parliament; Peter Jones from Eversheds Law Firm in the UK and Dr Khalid al-Mubarak, Media Counsellor at the Sudan Embassy in London.

Anas Altikriti, the Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation and moderator of the roundtable, concluded the meeting by thanking the sponsor as well as the Sudan Embassy in London for their support and stated that “there were important insights in to the various peace initiatives in operations and we hope we can further the spirit of peace dialogue and understanding in The Sudan and beyond.

Press Release – Sudan Roundtable to Celebrate Peace Through Dialogue

Press Release – Sudan Roundtable to Celebrate Peace Through Dialogue

A high-level roundtable is to be convened this week at the House of Lords to commemorate the 4th Anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in The Sudan.

Convened by The Cordoba Foundation and Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, the roundtable will be a platform to highlight the positive outcomes as well as the challenges that have emerged in the signing of the January 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Dr Khalid al-Mubarak from the Sudan Embassy in London said “this will be a milestone event as we seek to analyse the performance of the Sudan government vis-à-vis the various peace initiatives, chiefly the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Darfur Peace Agreement and the International Criminal Court.”

Keynote speakers at the event will include Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham, the Sudanese Ambassador in Britain H.E. Omer Siddiq, Ex-Minister of Sudan Foreign Affairs Dr Lam Akol who is also a member of the pre-dominantly Christian Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and former minister Dr Ghazi Salahuddin, who is Adviser to President Bashir and leader of the Majority at the National Assembly of Sudan.

Lord Nazir Ahmed said “I am happy to co-host such an important event, which seeks to further peace, reconciliation and dialogue at a time when hostility and confrontation seem to loom large.”

Anas Altikriti, the Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation and moderator of the roundtable welcomed the convening of what he called “an important event” to “discuss critically the achievements of the CPA and areas for improvements.” He added that “The Cordoba Foundation seeks to promote dialogue and understanding between civilisations, cultures and people.” As such, he added, “we hope to see what lessons we could learn from the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and how others may take this as a model for conflict resolution in different parts of the world.”

[Ends]

Press Release – Sudan Roundtable to Celebrate Peace Through Dialogue

Press Release – London Mayor and Assembly Elections

VOTE ON MAY 1st FOR SOCIAL COHESION AND POSITIVE ENGAGEMENT

London is one of the largest cities in the world, with communities from diverse backgrounds. The size of the capital means that some decisions about services and the capital’s development need to be taken with a city-wide view. This is the role of the Mayor. On May 1st Londoners will have the opportunity to exercise their democratic choice, by voting for the Mayor of London and London Assembly Members.

The Cordoba Foundation is concerned that the fascist British National Party (BNP) stands a real chance of having candidates elected to take part in running London. “The presence of open racists and Islamophobes in the government of our city would generate a climate of fear, suspicion and division between communities”, said Anas Altikriti, Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation.

“We are encouraging all Londoners to come out and vote, for competent, just and principled candidates. It is important those who aspire to run London have some track of supporting social-cohesion and positive engagement as opposed to espousing for a clash,” added Altikriti.

The Cordoba Foundation urges everyone to stop the BNP from gaining seats in the London Assembly by turning out in big numbers to vote on May 1st.

[End]

 

Press Release – A new leaf of life for dialogue in Britain

Press Release – A new leaf of life for dialogue in Britain

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) held its official launch yesterday, exactly one year on fro the tragic London bombings, at the illustrious Islam Expo event at Londesborough Room in Alexandra Palace – London.

 

Attended by a distinguished line-up of experts and scholars, including Professor Tariq Ramadan, Professor John Esposito, Dr Unaiza Malik from the Muslim Council of Britain and former Iraq hostage and Christian peace-maker, Dr. Norman Kember, the launch sent out a strong and uniform message of promoting dialogue and understanding between cultures, societies and thoughts.

Welcoming a very diverse audience consisting of experts, academics, scholars, the press and faith leaders, the founder and Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation, Anas Altikriti explained the rationale in choosing the name ‘Cordoba’ and why “we should learn from the rich history of Cordoba in Spain where communities of diverse religious and ideological backgrounds lived in harmony.”

 

He stressed that “the civilisation that emerged from Cordoba, is not unique in itself, but is also a beacon of hope for all of us today; hence the launch of The Cordoba Foundation.”

Dr Norman Kember gave a poignant presentation about his experience in captivity in Iraq and the lessons learned from it; he stressed “the need for nonviolent methods in conflict resolution.” He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Muslim community for the overwhelming support rendered towards him for his release from captivity and thanked the organisers of the launch, saying ‘I am delighted to be amongst this esteemed audience today.”

Professors Tariq Ramadan and Jon Esposito reinforced the need to dialogue and promote understanding. They both talked about the historical roots of dialogue in Britain (and Europe) and the myth of the clash of civilisations, both emphasizing the need to avoid the dialectic of ‘us and them’, which was the cause of conflicts and tensions between communities.

 

[End]

Press Release – A new leaf of life for dialogue in Britain

News Item: The Launch of The Cordoba Foundation

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) will hold its official launch on the 7th of July 2006, exactly one year on from the tragic London bombings, at the illustrious IslamExpo event at Alexandra Palace in London.

With the objectives of promoting the process of dialogue, providing unique insights of potential interaction and exchange between cultures, ideologies and intellects as well as training a new crop of specialists in the various fields of concern, TCF hopes to work hand-in-hand with other organisations and centres to promote better appreciation and understanding of ‘the other’.

 

A distinguished line-up of experts will be speaking or attending the launch, including Professor Tariq Ramadan, Professor John Esposito, and former Iraq hostage and Christian peace-maker, Dr. Norman Kember.

Explaining the objectives of TCF, Mr. Anas Altikriti, Chief Executive and founder said: “in light of recent events, some have pushed the argument of the impossibility of a peaceful and constructive co-existence between the West and the Muslim World. However, not so long-ago, we experienced what was arguably one of the most splendid examples of unprecedented human advancement where communities of diverse religions, ideas and cultures not only co-existed, but also excelled in all walks of life. The civilisation which emerged from Cordoba, is not unique in itself, but is also a beacon of hope for all of us in these
difficult and trying times”.

[End]