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.
The prime minister’s statement on Wednesday that terrorists could strike anywhere, at any time, hardly provides any useful information, let alone induces confidence in the government or security agencies actually knowing what threat they claim to be facing or capable of successfully overcoming.
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One of the most interesting – often intriguing – aspects of any conflict is the role of language in either calming or inflaming feelings of apprehension, division, fear and hatred that lie between the conflicting parties. In the aftermath of 9/11, the world was introduced to the term “terrorism” and “terrorist” under a new definition – a considerably vague and loose one. Suddenly, the whole world seemed to be engulfed by, or engaged with the “war on terror” in one way or another. Parties on opposing sides of the same conflict would each claim to be fighting terrorists and waging war against terrorism. This evolved to include terms such as radicalism, fundamentalism and extremism, and the impact was to spread the net of suspicion and animosity much further and wider than was allowed by the term “terrorism”
Reading Hassan Butt’s piece in the Observer, “My plea to fellow Muslims: you must renounce terror”, I couldn’t help but think of how much his likes have to do with the dire security conditions we all face today. Despite his claim to have repented, I would ask to be forgiven for being less than sympathetic and congratulatory in my tone, as it was probably he and his comrades who stood outside mosques, community centres and lecture halls, heckling and, at times, physically attacking me and my colleagues for talking about the need for dialogue, for reaching out to all human beings and about promoting universal human rights that include all people, regardless of faith, race or colour.
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When a BBC online worldwide poll shows that a third of 27,000 respondents believed some degree of torture was acceptable when dealing with terrorist suspects, we should be seriously concerned.
That so many people from 25 countries can even begin to think that such methods can be of any tangible use in combating terrorism or any other crimes the world may be facing, is worrying, and should make us reflect on where we have arrived at as a human race and what we have become. It’s notable that among the highest rates of those who thought torturing suspects was acceptable or of benefit, were in the US (36%) and Israel (43%), with 24% of those polled in the UK agreeing.
When David Blunkett was home secretary, he came up with the extraordinary idea that the problems of social cohesion and integration could all be solved by calling upon parents, and he singled out Asian parents, to speak to their own children at home in English rather than in their native languages.
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When Pope Benedict recently delivered a lecture and managed to find the time and space to take a swipe at Islam, the Prophet Mohammed and effectively every Muslim, he must have expected the kind of reaction that followed across the Muslim world. If he hadn’t, then he has either been on another planet these last few years or he shouldn’t be in the high position he is.
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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.
One year on from the July 7 bombings, we have some perspective on how our society is facing up to the challenges of a common future. From that tragic morning on which dozens were killed in a cruel act of murder to the recent arrests of two young Muslims, one of whom was shot, in east London, and the prime minister’s demands that Muslims should do more, it’s clear that relations between the Muslim community and society as a whole could be better, to say the least.
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