“My hate for Muslims had no limits,” said the Pastor. “We had a zeal to protect and revive the glory of Islam,” said the Imam.
Emerging from the 1990s in Northern Nigeria after being on the frontlines of confrontations that saw thousands dead, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye are two of the unlikeliest of allies.
They both came out of the heart of the religious teachings of their communities to become bitter enemies determined to kill one another. Imam Ashafa was committed to the total Islamization of Nigeria, and Pastor James to its total evangelization.
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Poverty, inequity, and social injustice are matters of conscience and demand a systematic response. Civil society plays a key role in development with Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) at the forefront of initiatives aimed at helping to achieve increased tolerance, social cohesion and understanding.
Faith communities have undeniably had as strong a history of internecine strife and struggle as they have of cooperation and collaboration. It is against this framework of internal and external disagreement that there is a need to build and sustain existing links and to explore new initiatives.
This paper highlights practical examples of dialogue and collaboration between Muslim Aid and UMCOR showing how different faith communities make natural allies for the promotion and success of cross border linking and play a part in making humanitarian work
more efficient and effective whilst showing that inter-faith cooperation means something practical as well as spiritual.
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Muslims and their mosques face a higher level of threats and intimidation in UK suburbs and market towns than in big cities, according to a new report. Case studies reveal that examples such as a Muslim woman who was punched and called a “terrorist” in front of her petrified daughter are not uncommon.
Such attacks often go unreported, and in this case the woman was too scared to inform the police. She also played down the incident to reduce her child’s distress, and avoided explaining why she was singled out for wearing a burka and being a Muslim woman. The new study Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK Case Studies, published 27 November reveals that this kind of unprovoked incident is a largely hidden experience that is insufficiently acknowledged and understood outside of the communities where they occur. The report is part of a ten year academic research project led by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC). It captures a snapshot of these experiences which are often unrecognised by the media, politicians and wider British society. The research also combines an academic approach to identifying world events and policy information that inform the way reactions and actions towards Muslims can be influenced.
Findings show that since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, arson, criminal damage, violence and intimidation against mosques has increased dramatically and smaller or isolated Muslim communities in places like Colchester, Bishop Stortford and Boston have become especially vulnerable.
Dr Jonathan Githens Mazer, co-Director of the EMRC said, “Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime are very real problems for British Muslims going about their everyday business. Through our research we have found that in smaller and more isolated mosques in many suburbs and market towns there is a feeling of being under siege. Some local councils who are made aware of the situation say to mosque officials, ‘we can see this is bad, why don’t you move the mosque?’”
The report also analyses the local activity by the British National Party, English Defence League and sister organisations. Anti-migrant and random attacks that have impacted on every poor urban community where most Muslims live have also been studied.
Dr Bob Lambert, co-Director of the EMRC said, ‘Evidence has also indicated that the galvanising report of the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry changed police response to hate crimes. Whereas, because the war on terror is viewed as a security risk, Muslims do not have the support that is now widely accepted in other areas of hate crime. Muslims are not requesting special treatment, just equal rights with their fellow citizens.’
Professor John Esposito from Georgetown University, USA argues against the anti-Muslim rhetoric and has recently been commenting on the furore surrounding the negative campaigning against Park5l, the co called Ground Zero Mosque in Lower Manhattan. He will be attending the launch of the new report and recognises the need to unite UK and US citizens in a common purpose. He said,‘US and UK citizens should distinguish the faith of mainstream Muslims from the claims of a minority of extremists who justify their acts of violence and terrorism in the name of Islam. Blurring this distinction plays into the hands of preachers of hate (Muslim and non-Muslim) whose rhetoric incites and demonizes, alienates and marginalizes and leads to the adoption of domestic policies that undermine the civil liberties of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The report will be presented to community audiences around the UK, commencing with the following engagements:
- Saturday, 27 November, 2010 – London Muslim Centre, Whitechapel, London
- Sunday, 28 November, 2010 – Birmingham Central Mosque, Birmingham
- Friday, 10 December, 2010 – Woodfarm Education Centre, Glasgow
The UK launch of An African Answer will take place 8-12 November, in the presence of the film’s protagonists Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, the director Dr Alan Channer and producer Dr Imad Karam.
The UK premiere will be at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), London at 6.30pm on Tuesday 9 November. The event will be chaired by
Sir Richard Jolly, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations.
The first screening for the general public will be at Friends House, Euston, at 7pm on Friday 12 November. Private screenings will also be held at St John’s College, Oxford University and Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution, Rochester – where Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye will facilitate a workshop with inmates on reducing re-offending.
An African Answer depicts a dramatic bid by Pastor Wuye and Imam Ashafa – former militia leaders turned peace-makers from Nigeria – to bring reconciliation in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, following communal killings. It is filmed in the district of Kenya worst hit by the post-election violence of early 2008, when around 1000 people were killed and tens of thousands were displaced from their homes and farms.
Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, describes it as ‘A very important film. We need to learn, indeed, from Imam Ashafa and Pastor James’ says Annan, ‘and multiply in a thousand places their experiences of healing and reconciliation.’
An African Answer is produced by For the Love of Tomorrow Films (FLTfilms), the film-making division of UK charity Initiatives of Change. It follows an earlier, award-winning film about the two men, The Imam and the Pastor, shot in Nigeria and narrated by Rageh Omaar. This depicted the astonishing reconciliation between the former enemies, showing that it is possible for perpetrators of inter-religious violence to become instigators of peace.
‘After the global impact of The Imam and the Pastor, we wanted to make a film that depicts the peace-building methodology of Pastor Wuye and Imam Ashafa,’ says director Dr Alan Channer. ‘We were ready to follow them to any conflict in the world where they were invited to mediate. Then the post-election violence erupted in Kenya. We went to Kenya, they were invited back, and we followed them again. We found ourselves witness to Africans from one country working to help those in another, in a highly effective way.’’
An African Answer had its Kenyan premiere in Nairobi in May 2010, in the same hotel in which Kofi Annan brokered the National Peace Accord. Chief Guest Francis Kimemia, Permanent Secretary for Internal Security, said ‘There are no permanent angels or permanent devils in any community. Peace needs to be deepened.This film is a resource of best practice…. It reflects the indomitable spirit of the Kenyan people.’
Looking back on the process, Imam Ashafa says: ‘This work is about helping people take charge of their own destiny. Solutions can come from the grass-roots. We touched a spirit of reconciliation that was there in the Kenyan people.’
Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye were awarded the inaugural Fondation Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention in December 2009.
An African Answer (38m)
Narrator — Kathleen Openda-Mvati
Camera – Robinson Malemo & Tony Biwott
Producer – Imad Karam
Director – Alan Channer
An African Answer is available on DVD from FLTfilms, price £15.99 (inc p&p)
Tel – 020 7798 6020 www.fltfilms.org.uk
For more information about the public premiere, please click here.
For more information on The Imam and the Pastor, please click here
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye will be available for media interviews during the day on 9 November, and on the afternoon of 12 November, as will the film’s director, Dr Alan Channer, and producer, Dr Imad Karam. Please use the contacts below for further information. Photographs of Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye and stills from the film are also available.
FLTfilms is an autonomous division of Initiatives of Change in the UK. Over a period of almost 50 years, FLTfilms has established itself as a world-class documentary film unit specialising in films which foster reconciliation and peace-building. Its name derives from a documentary film on Franco-German reconciliation, For the Love of Tomorrow.
FLTfilms is co-directed by Dr Alan Channer and Dr Imad Karam
About Initiatives of Change
Initiatives of Change is a global network of people from many cultures and nationalities who are committed to building trust across the world’s divides, starting with change in their own lives.
We run programmes for social and economic justice which encourage participants to find their own path to building trust in their community and country. These initiatives are based on a commitment to absolute moral standards of honesty, purity of heart and motive, unselfishness in private and public life, love and forgiveness. We are open to those of all faiths and none.
About the RSA
For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress. The RSA provides one of the biggest free events programmes in the UK, enabling leading thinkers and new voices to share ideas on key contemporary issues. The RSA’s work is supported by an international Fellowship of 27,000 people and is based at a historic London house designed by Robert Adam in the early 1770s.
Background to An African Answer
More than 1,000 people were killed following disputed elections in Kenya at the end of 2007. Suspicion over the validity of the poll and fears of a change in the balance of power between Kenya’s ethnic groups sparked widespread violence. On 1January 2008, near the town of Eldoret, a mob attacked and set fire to a church where hundreds of people had taken refuge. Some 40 people were burned to death.
For media enquiries please contact:
Michael Smith (07986 179776)
Don de Silva (07904 122248)
020 7798 6000
Venue: Park Campus, University of Northampton,
Northampton NN2 7AL, UK
This conference gathers academics, journalists, researchers, policy
makers, youth workers, civil society organisations and other members of the public to discuss issues around Muslims in Europe, identity, citizenship and belonging. It aims to address issues relating to Muslims’ engagement or disengagement with the mainstream European society; what challenges are there for their positive participation in the success of the multiculturalism model. It will also aim to map out Muslims’ use of the media and the extent to which that helps define who they are.
This conference will cover (but not necessarily limited to) the following areas of enquiry:
– European or Muslim: What do Muslims in Europe believe to be
– Multiculturalism and Integration: What does this actually mean?
– Active citizenship: What does this mean in Islamic terms?
– The relationship between British Muslims and the global Muslim
community – the Ummah.
– The rise of political Islam – Islamism
– Post 9/11 Radicalisation and terrorism
– New media and youth/women empowerment.
– Youth subcultures and new media, what is going on?
– What functions are the internet and satellite TV playing in
engaging/disengaging Muslim communities?
Call for submissions:
Abstracts of no more than 400 words, along with a short bio should be submitted by the 15th October 2010. Papers should reflect one or more of the conference themes mentioned above. Particularly welcome are papers based on empirical work and a clear research method (s).
Submission of abstracts: 15th October 2010
Notification of acceptance: 3rd November 2010
Submission of full papers: 26th January 2011
Selected conference papers will be published in an edited volume.
Please send all submissions and enquiries to Dr Noureddine Miladi
(conference coordinator), E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +44 (0)1604 892104
Britain’s fight against terrorism has been a disaster, because its “flawed, neo-conservative” direction alienated Muslims and increased the chances of terrorist attacks, a former leading counter-terrorism officer has told the Guardian.
Speaking to mark today’s fifth anniversary of the 7 July attacks in London, Dr Robert Lambert said the atrocity had led the Labour government to launch not just the publicly declared battle against al-Qaida, but a much wider counter-subversive campaign that targeted non-violent Muslims and branded them as supporters of violence.
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Whatever the outcome of the election on May 7th, as HA Hellyer recently wrote on Cif, Muslims around the country are likely to play a significant role in influencing the outcome of dozens of seats. The second largest faith community, which constitutes no more than 4% of the total population, has come of age and become quite astute in dealing with the elections according to interests, priorities and concerns, many of which are shared by a majority of the British people.
Amidst nervousness at the sharpening of rhetoric against Iran and a frustration of the stalemate in the issue of Israel and Palestine, the 7th US-Muslim world Forum took place in Doha between the 13th – 15th of February in Doha, Qatar.
Conceding that the Obama Administration had not yet delivered on some of its signature foreign policy goals, the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleaded for patience saying that ‘Building a stronger relationship can not happen overnight or even in a year’. Addressing the conference via video link President Obama tried to focus on practical steps that the US had taken in trying to forge a new relationship with the Muslim World. He also mentioned the appointment of Rashad Hussein as his special envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Countries as a commitment to his seeking a new beginning with the Muslim World.
The 3 day forum which had a multitude of guests from all sorts of disciplines across the world included guests such as Anwar Ibrahim (Opposition Leader in Malaysia), Racep Tayyip Erdogan (Prime Minister of Turkey) and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (Saudi Arabia) amongst others.
The forum explored issues in 5 different working groups designed to generate dialogue, ideas and policy recommendations to address challenges such as democracy, interfaith relations, diplomacy and civil society development. The working groups were:
- Role of Religious Leaders and Religious Communities in Diplomacy
- Democracy and Islamic Parties: Opportunities and Challenges
- Transformative Partnerships in US-Muslim World Relations: Empowering Networks for Community Development and Social Change
- Scientific, Intellectual and Governance Cooperation on Emerging Environmental Challenges
- New Media to further Global Engagement.
The event was not without its critics though. Some who expressed concerns over the sponsors of the forum itself , whilst others expressed disappointment at the lack of real sign for moving beyond rhetoric and at the failure of the US administration to address burning issues
For more information about the event, please click here
On closing the World Parliament of Religions on the 9th of December after 6 full days of deliberation, discussion and celebration, The Dalai Lama challenged the participants to put what they had discussed to action. In order for love and compassion to become a reality, he said that there would need to be a new type of ‘secularism’ – not a secularism that denies the importance of religion but one which respects the practitioners of all religions and of none.
‘Beliefs may differ, but the core practices of love and compassion are common in all traditions’ he concluded.
The Dalai Lama’s comments put an end to a highly successful gathering where the theme was on coming together despite differences to show unity in common challenges. That unity was displayed with a gesture of solidarity with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen and also showed solidarity with representatives of indigenous people from around the world. One of the main discussion points throughout theParliament was an Islam 101 series which focussed on improving people’s understanding and perceptions of Islam. The series featured contributions from Professor Tariq Ramadan; Dr Chandra Muzzafer; Imam Faizel Abdul Rauf; Imam Khalid Griggs amongst other leaders and civil society activists. TCF also featured prominently in the Parliament sitting in on 4 panel discussions.
For more information on the Parliament’s events, please click here