Muslim Writers Awards 2012 Call for Submissions – The Spirit of Cordoba Prize

Muslim Writers Awards 2012 Call for Submissions – The Spirit of Cordoba Prize

Considered to have witnessed the dawn of western civilisation, the medieval city of Cordoba has for centuries been revered for its significant contribution to scholarship and learning. A cultural, economic and political metropolis, Cordoba is world-renowned for providing a haven for persecuted communities, an attribute which travelled far during Cordoba’s golden years.

In the spirit of the significance of the city of Cordoba in medieval times, The Cordoba Foundation in partnership with Muslim Writers Awards is proud to present ‘The Spirit of Cordoba’ prize, awarded to an individual who embodies the essence of Cordoba.

To award this prize, the organisers are inviting members of the public to nominate individuals/groups who have uniquely contributed in analysing the relationship between the east and west in an attempt to open the channels of communication and dialogue between the two. These individuals/groups will strive towards redirecting narratives to correct the presentation of the ‘other’ in an attempt to embody the essence of Cordoba’s peaceful co-existence, today.

Assessed by an esteemed panel of judges headed by The Cordoba Foundation CEO, Anas Altikriti, the prize will be awarded to the individual/group whose work in expressive arts (photography, writing, theatre, art) is proved to have made an impact on the wider society, building a strong following and changing public opinion, creating a media stir and even perhaps helping to change legislation.

Closing date: 20th July

The 2012 Muslim Writers Awards welcomes submissions from Muslim writers across the world. We have a broad range of categories from screen play to novel writing to journalism. Our awards ceremony is an opportunity to showcase talent from both published and unpublished writers. We also work with a number of literary agents and publishers who are eager to read and review writing submitted to us.

Event Report: Launch of ‘An Introduction to Effective Lobbying & Campaigning’

Event Report: Launch of ‘An Introduction to Effective Lobbying & Campaigning’

photo 2.jpgOn Thursday 1st of March at the Islamic Cultural Centre, the Cordoba Foundation (TCF) Launched their second in a trilogy of toolkits for community groups titled ‘ Effective Guide to Lobbying and Campaigning’.




photo 3.jpgThe toolkit is designed to build confidence amongst BME community groups to help political engagement.  It will serve as a go-to guide for practitioners whereby they can gain benefit from the balance of theory, practical advice and case studies that the guide offers.  The toolkit can be the main resource for future training and workshops given by TCF to help cement the points in the guide. Speakers at the launch included Neil Jameson, Moazzam Begg, Aisha Alvi and Jeremy Corbyn, MP.  Each spoke from their own experience about the need for people  and civil society to be continuously involved in applying pressure collectively.

photo 1.jpgTCF hopes that the toolkit on ‘Effective Lobbying and Campaigning’ and the one on ‘Engaging with the Media’ will serve as key reference points in the future for practitioners on the ground.




For more information, please click here 

Event Report: National forum maps out creative ways forward after last year’s riots

Event Report: National forum maps out creative ways forward after last year’s riots

A former bishop to HM Prisons told a forum held in London that custodial sentences and bail provisions for some of the rioters of last August have been too harsh. Dr Peter Selby, formerly Bishop of Worcester and Bishop to HM Prisons, criticised a ‘system of disregard’ for the wellbeing of disenfranchised young people, which had led to the riots. ‘I am seriously worried that you blight somebody’s whole life for one night of foolishness’ by handing down prison sentences for minor crimes, said Bishop Selby. With 1,400 people in the system still awaiting prosecution and sentencing, ‘there are real grounds for concern. The punitive response to individual rioters, resort to constraint and control and the use of prison disproportionately for the poorest add to up a system of disregard’ for their and society’s welfare, he said.

He was speaking at a conference on ‘After the riots: from blame to positive action’, held at the Initiatives of Change centre in London on 1 February. The forum was organised jointly by Burning2Learn leadership training programme for young people, the Civil Society Forum, The Cordoba Foundation, and Initiatives of Change. It brought together some 100 community and faith leaders and representatives of non-governmental organisations from London, Nottingham, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Glasgow, Ipswich and Norwich.


Welcoming participants on behalf of the organising committee, Don de Silva, Head of Programmes at IofC UK, said the event would be a listening forum. He continued: ‘Many of the individuals here have hands on experience in dealing with critical issues, such as social exclusion, family life, youth offending and community cohesion. The forum aims to bring the values dimension into the riots debate. It will provide a space for dialogue. We will avoid any points scoring. We hope that the forum will encourage everyone to start with themselves, look at their own responsibilities, not just that of the others. We need both personal and systemic change to make a lasting difference.’

The event was kick-started with a short presentation by a group of young people from Croydon, Wolverhampton and Kent. Seventeen-year old Maria said: ‘It is fairly obvious that what has happened has had some really damaging and lasting effects on the persons involved; those who took upon themselves to vandalise and steal and shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it. Do we really have the time to be processing each and every case? Surely, our time would be more productively used ensuring that it doesn’t happen again.’

Clasford Stirling, a community leader from the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, told the conference that ‘the system doesn’t provide for young people. We have four youth groups to deal with 100,000 people. It can’t happen. We need 20 youth clubs.’


The rioters had come together in protest against the police following the shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in Tottenham on 4 August. At first the rioters found it ‘a sense of fun. The looting came afterwards. When you are having fun you don’t care.’ That fun had criminalised them. Politicians hadn’t always obeyed the law either and ‘the rich get richer because they steal’. Describing himself as a disciplinarian and ‘a serious dude’ loved by his children, Stirling admitted that some parents didn’t impose enough discipline.

Dr Selby criticised ‘a system of punitive attitudes’ that disregarded what effect this would have on the welfare of young people and the future of society. He contrasted this with ‘individual acts of over-indulgence at the top’ by some bankers and politicians who ‘bent the rules to their own interests’ and were resistant to regulation and control, and which ultimately led to ‘attacks on the lives of the poor’.

Emphasising that he was never in favour of rioting, Dr Selby said the riots were ‘the result of the economics of disregard that we have all created’. There was a need for systemic changes. ‘I don’t believe that the world will become a better place only by people becoming better people,’ even though this was essential from a Christian perspective. ‘I incline to a systemic view of things.’

‘Individual acts of looting and robbery, resistance to authority and, ultimately, violence against persons add up to a system of disregard,’ which had marginalised too many young people, he said. It was important that we attune our consciences to ‘a moral universe’. ‘If you propagate a system of disregard you are acting outside the guarantees of a moral universe. Last August was a call to live for a system of regard.’ Charlie Ryder, a musician, actor and former prisoner, told how he had served eight months in jail for taking part in a violent demonstration outside a BNP bookshop in 1993. His father’s drinking had had a bad effect on his upbringing, he said. He told the forum that young people needed a sense of forgiveness and healing to retain their sense of self-worth. He now works with the chaplaincy at Wormwood Scrubs Community Chaplaincy, and has collaborated with the Forgiveness Project.

Maxine Cockett, a community leader from the St Ann’s district of inner-city Nottingham, told how she had been part of earlier riots in the 1980s. When the riots of last August reached Nottingham, she urged the rioters to go home before the police found them. ‘We can do something positively,’ said Cockett, one of the organisers of an annual ‘Holding Hands Around St Ann’s’ demonstration of community unity. Every generation needed opportunities. Too many young people leave school at 14 ‘with no stake in their communities’. Greg Davies: ‘The problem with youth clubs is that they are She wanted to work together with others in the community to ‘find solutions’ so that young people are not marginalised and don’t riot. ‘I hope there won’t be any more riots. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we have riots again,’ she said.

Greg Davis, founder of the United Estates in Wythenshawe, Manchester, spoke about the inner-city cultural community centre, which helps to ‘foster a sense of belonging, education and training’. The problem with youth clubs is that they are ‘nice places’ for ‘nice kids’, he said. ‘The kids who most need the support of a youth club are the ones least likely to go. There are issues of class, ethnicity and gender. They need youth clubs for kids who don’t go to youth clubs.’ In the previous generation, traditional figures of respect were teachers, parents, police and faith leaders. Now they faced abuse from kids. ‘Those who can relate and garner respect are now more likely to be sports coaches and dance teachers.’

Ian Montague from the grassroots Glasgow charity FARE (Family Action in Rotherfield and Easterhouse) told how he had grown up in the Gorbals slum area of Glasgow. It had ‘the worst housing project with razor gangs’ and there was a lack of hope and vision, he said. As a teenager he had thought, ‘I can’t change them but I have to do something. Am I my brother’s keeper? Yes!’ Going into education, he launched a community newspaper ‘to irritate those who should be doing something’. Twenty years ago, the Council gave six flats to use for a youth project. The young people took  responsibility for this space.

Eighteen months ago the entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, of the Dragon’s Den TV series, contributed. They now had assets of £2 million. ‘There is money and there is room!’ commented Montague. ‘We have to find who has got it!’


Mason West, from Alabama, Tennessee, represented EYES (Engage Youth Empowerment Services) in Wolverhampton at the forum. Colour, caste and religion were used as reasons to divide, he said. ‘We need resources to pull together’ and invest in youth, ‘raising their expectations, empowering them, giving them confidence, helping them to find their voice and engage. Once they are plugged into the system they can change it. Then there’s no need to worry about them being radicalised or rebelling.’

Ann Edwards, from the Suffolk village of Wenhaston, said that Suffolk has many of the most deprived areas of the country. ‘Regardless of whether you live in the town or the countryside, how can you engage to make a difference?’ she posed. The villagers had safety concerns about children skateboarding on the main road through the village. Residents located an unused area where they created a skateboard park for the children. This gradually developed to accommodate the needs of the community. £144,000 was raised for a new sports complex, which has tennis and skateboarding facilities integrated for all ages and backgrounds. They also revived a youth club. There has been almost no vandalism as it was very much a community generated project in which everyone took pride. ‘Small, simple ideas can have a big impact on the community,’ she said. Her personal inspiration had come from ‘taking time for quiet reflection every morning, listening for direction and seeking inner peace’.

Closing the forum, Anas Altikriti, Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation remarked: ‘What we have learnt today is that the greatest resource and asset we have is people.  Society leads us to believe that it is money – stuff – that matters but what really succeeds is a project that places its worth on people and their work. This is the message that we give to the young people today. All of us can make a change. All over the world, we see the resurgence of the youth as a force to transform society. In the Middle East, we were told that young people were lazy and indolent, yet they have been at the forefront of the Arab Spring. Likewise, we tell people here that it is the spirit, endeavours and courage of the youth, that can shift paradigms, and they need to be supported’.

A young rioter commented afterwards: ‘I did not know that there were many people who cared and listened to people like us. This event is a rebirth for me.’


(Photos courtesy of: John Leggat)

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For The Cordoba Foundation thoughts on this issue, please click here


To read the conference report and recommendations, please click here

News Release: 10 Years of Guantanamo

News Release: 10 Years of Guantanamo

On 11 January 2002, the first of nearly 800 prisoners was sent to the US military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.  Images of these men kneeling and shackled, wearing orange boiler suits, goggled and masked, shocked the world.  Ten years on, 171 prisoners still remain in captivity – all without due process and without a feasible end to their suffering in sight.

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) strongly believes that ten years on, the presence of such a prison is a shameful blot on the annals of international justice and human rights.History will read that we stripped innocent men and women of their dignity, imprisoned children and practiced torture.

Remarking on this, the CEO of TCF, Anas Altikriti stated: “At a time when the world is witnessing a sea of uplifting change throughout some of the darkest spots in living memory in what has come to be known as the Arab Spring, it is disgraceful that Guantanamo and all that it symbolises continues to exist under our very noses and with our consent.”

The Cordoba Foundation calls on the United States Government to bring an immediate, unequivocal and unconditional end to this shameful episode, and calls on all peoples and nations of the world to assume a solid stand against such practices, wherever they occur, for whatever reason and by whomsoever.


The Cordoba Foundation is supporting a conference to commemorate  this issue.  Please click here for more details

Eid ul Adha 1432: Eid Mubarak

Eid ul Adha 1432: Eid Mubarak

On the joyous occasion of the completion of the Holy Month of Ramadan and the advent of Eid-ul-Fitr, The Cordoba Foundation takes this opportunity to wish you Eid Mubarak.  May you enjoy peace, happiness and tranquility with your loved ones, friends and family during these blessed days.

Event Report:The Cold War on British Muslims – The Instigators and Funders

Event Report:The Cold War on British Muslims – The Instigators and Funders

On Tuesday 11th October, the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Cordoba Foundation (TCF) co-hosted the authors of the recent SpinWatch report on the spread of Islamophobia in the UK. The event took place in the House of Parliament and was sponsored by Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, and chaired by the former foreign affairs editor for the Guardian, Victoria Brittain.


SW 3.jpgThe report entitled ‘Cold War on British Muslims: An Examination of Policy Exchange and Centre of Social Cohesion‘ was presented by the co-authors Professor David Miller, Tom Griffin and Tom Mills, who briefly described their findings and their analyses. They were joined on the panel by Dr Robert Lambert, former head of the Muslim Contact Unit and co-director of the European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC) at the University of Exeter and a part time lecturer at the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence (CSTPV) at the University of St Andrews.

Dr Daud Abdullah, Director of MEMO, opened the event and discussed the importance of the report highlighting the part played by the two institutions in vilifying the Muslim community over the last decade. ‘Being a Muslim in Britain and Europe today has a price – Islamophobia’. Dr Abdullah criticised the government and right wing organisations’ ‘double speak’; ‘on one hand we are told to participate and when we do, we are told we are infiltrators!’ He suggested that both the domestic and foreign policies of the incumbent coalition government bear the trademarks of the dominant neo-con elements led by Michael Gove, a former chair of Policy Exchange and now Secretary of State for Education. Throughout the period under review they have played a ‘very divisive’, he asserted.

SW 1.jpgDr Robert Lambert suggested that both the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) and Policy Exchange (PE) were at the forefront of criticising Muslims. The CSC which has been subsumed into the Henry Jackson Society (HJS) is, according to Lambert, of lesser interest as it is less influential. On the other hand, he said the PE is more influential in shaping policy at government level. (Prof David Miller disagreed later, citing the latest Prevent strategy had cited the CSC as one of its main sources of information).  Lambert concluded by raising concerns about the counter-subversive tactics fuelling government policy and policing in the UK; “Increasingly I see some of these most loyal and effective Muslims reclassified as extremists – the advice comes from Policy Exchange and the evidence for it is extremely thin.”

The SpinWatch authors where then given the platform to discuss their research findings. Prof David Miller set the scene by describing the role of think tanks and suggested they were really lobbyists pushing their own agendas and thus should be susceptible to the same scrutiny as other organisations and governmental bodies. CSC has implied that Islamist terrorism was only part of a broader ideological challenge facing the West.  Douglas Murray, the neo-con director of CSC and now associate director of HJS, said in 2006 “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board”. According to Miller “he wasn’t talking about Islamists or extremists…he was talking about Muslims.”

Tom Griffin – explained that the use of the term ‘cold war’ was a reference to the tactics used in the 1980s against communist organizations. He argued evidence showed that the same tactics were now being used to monitor Islamic societies with their ‘counter subversion’ policies. For example, the Centre for Social Cohesion published a report entitled ‘The A-Z of British Muslim organisations’, in which Interpal (a British charity working in Palestine) was targeted using Israeli counter subversion evidence.  The biased and Islamophobic agenda is apparent when looking at their work on the BNP, and although they acknowledge the anti-Muslim rhetoric seeping through the BNP, it ignores the ideologies that influence the BNP. Griffin finished off by challenging the CSC to research the English Defence League (EDL), who have cited the same sources as those that Douglas Murray bases his speeches on.

SW 2.jpgThe final author of the research, Tom Mills analysed Policy Exchange in more detail.  He explained that the neo con suggestion that “in some ways since the 1960s a confidence in Western civilisation has been undermined and that is what gave rise to anti-Western feeling and how Islamism came about” is what is used by the likes of Michael Gove and his right wing colleagues to push forward their counter subversion policies. However, a more interesting feature of his presentation that caused a stir was the funding of these think tanks.

The report, sponsored by The Cordoba Foundation, details the funders of both the CSC and the Policy Exchange, with Mills highlighting groups such as the Peter Cruddas Foundation and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust. The latter in turn also funds for a variety of pro-Israel and right wing think tanks, including Civitas, Israel-Diaspora Trust and the Anglo-Israel Association.

Anas Altikriti, the CEO and founder of the Cordoba Foundation closed the event by reiterating that the overriding narrative in today’s climate was being guided by the above mentioned groups, who were clearly influencing official policy. He reiterated his support for SpinWatch and the EMRC, whom TCF are proud donors of, and suggested that more work was needed to highlight the inconsistencies and double standards in policy and decision making.

SW 4.jpgSuffice to say that ‘The Cold War on British Muslims’ report will be used as a key reference point in months and years to come; the anti-Islam and pro-Israel propagators will certainly not be given free rein to continue to influence policy without challenge, and organisations such as the Middle East Monitor, The Cordoba Foundation, European Muslim Research Centre and SpinWatch will maintain a watchful eye.


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News Release: Egypt Clashes should not overshadow its future

News Release: Egypt Clashes should not overshadow its future

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) condemns the recent attack on a church in Egypt, which has led to sectarian clashes leaving 24 people dead.  This attack, though a work of a mischievous minority, is threatening to overshadow the collaborative efforts of all communities in setting a new path towards democracy in Egypt.

Commenting on this, Anas Altikriti, CEO of TCF said ‘People should not be drawn into the trap of sectarian division which will threaten to derail the process of Egypt’s new journey and which will be used by the ruling military council to stifle freedom of expression’.

Egypt and Egyptians are renowned for their indelible and organic sense of tolerance, compassion and social solidarity, and it is incumbent upon religious leaders in Egypt and beyond to exemplify and echo these characteristics through their respective endeavours for mutual understanding and religious tolerance.

Thus there is a need for responsibility to be taken towards initiatives that emphasise that breeding such violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate. Collectively we need to ensure that our youth are given accurate information about other traditions, religions and cultures.  We need to encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity ~ to cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human beings—

To more effectively address critical issues of religious freedom in Egypt, TCF calls for an organised grass roots response mechanism to be initiated that can address real social concerns whilst condemning all forms of discrimination, intolerance and oppression against ethnic and religious minorities. There is a need to speak out whenever and wherever abuse occurs, whether it be against one’s own religion or government or someone else’s, that is the oppressor or the victim.  It is only with this type of attitude that the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community is possible.

There is no question that crimes committed against Copts in Egypt must be condemned as strongly by all Muslims, as much as are crimes committed against Muslims. Failure to do so will demonstrate intolerable hypocrisy, which Egypt and the new Arab world can ill-afford.

News Release: Egypt Clashes should not overshadow its future

Press Release: Iraqi Council Speaker to discuss Political Reconciliation Initiative in London

The Speaker of the Iraqi Council of Representatives, Osama Al Nujaifi, is set to visit Britain next week as part of an official visit. During his visit, Al Nujaifi will be meeting with Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague and other officials to discuss the latest developments in Iraq and challenges facing the region.

Al Nujaifi will be focussing on Iraq’s political reconstruction which will highlight the ‘Al Nujaifi Initiative’, which aims to bridge gaps between the different political voices in the Iraqi Parliament. The initiative aims to explore ways to strengthening a reconciled national partnership, and addressing Iraq’s relationship with its neighbours. Mr Al Nujaifi stresses the importance of such initiatives especially in the light of recent internal geopolitical conflicts in Iraq.

He will also be speaking at Chatham House about the future of Iraq and meeting with members of the British press.

In addition to official engagements, Mr Al Nujaifi will be visiting Oxford University, and speaking at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) about Iraq’s role in the recent changes that are sweeping the region. During his trip, he will be meeting numerous members of the Media and members of the Iraqi community in London.

The Cordoba Foundation  will be handling his media and public relations service during his visit.


  1. To arrange interviews or for media coverage regarding the speaker’s visit, please contact Maryam Wissam, Media Officer on 07583 830080 or
  2.  For further information about the speaker’s visit, please contact Amjad Saleem, Head of Communications on 020 8991 3370  or
News Release: Egypt Clashes should not overshadow its future

News Release: The Death of Shaykh Maymun Zarzur: A Real Tragedy

The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) expresses its sadness at the untimely death of Shaykh Maymun Zarzur, the Imam at the Muslim Welfare House in North London after morning prayers on Friday 2nd September. Although the case is still being investigated by the police, it is believed that the Imam was killed in his office by a member of the community who was seeking Shaykh Zarzur’s counsel.

Commenting, CEO Anas Altikriti said: “Shaykh Zarzur was a much loved community leader and will be sorely missed. His tremendous efforts throughout the community despite his physical disability were renowoned and recognised by all those who came in touch with him.  Faith leaders like the Shaykh are often the unsung heroes (and victims) who are at the front line on a daily basis dealing with complex issues”.

The Cordoba Foundation welcomes the calm and collected response to this tragic incident on the part of all concerned; the Muslim Welfare House administration and the local Muslim community. Their response in working together from the very first moment with the police investigation and the local authorities, and the manner in which the local council and MP Jeremy Corbyn responded and reacted to this incident is truly exemplary.

Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the family, friends, and community of Shaykh Maymun Zarzur