The book is a noble attempt to bring the injustices of the Palestinian people to light. Throughout the narrative the authors interweave their own first-hand experience of being in Palestine, where they have travelled extensively on numerous occasions, with the personal stories of the Palestinian people and friends they met along their way. One of the distinguishing features of this book is not only their accessible writing style and frank assessment of the situation on the ground but also their use of over 50 photographs and maps to illustrate their points and provide a ‘Graphic Perspective” of the situation on the ground.
In their relatively short book the authors manage to cover a great number of vital issues including the illegal Israeli settlements, the separation wall, the systematic campaign of house demolitions and the inhumane siege on Gaza. As they have clearly stated on many occasions, there is a great need to let the world see with their own eyes what is going on hidden away behind the wall and that exposure and accessibility is what they hope their book will achieve.
The authors were joined by a distinguished panel of guests including, Oliver McTernan (Co-Founder and Director of Forward Thinking), John McHugo (Chair of the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine), Anas Al-Tikriti (CEO of the Cordoba Foundation) and Dr Daud Abdullah (Director of the Middle East Monitor).
Following a welcoming opening statement by Anas Al-Tikriti, Bill and Kathleen briefly spoke about their book and the situation in Palestine.
At the half time break members of the audience were able to buy the book provided by the publishers Pluto Press at a discounted price. They were then able to meet the two authors in person and get their copies of the book signed.
Once the session resumed John McHugo gave a very powerful speech in which he discussed the existence of a culture of denial in the Western Press and he condemned the platform given to many writers in the Western media who have demonstrated a complete lack of competence in objectively covering the situation in Palestine by reference to their continued bias and distorted reporting of the facts. He also expressed his desire to see books such as Bill and Kathleen’s in sixth form colleges around the world in order to foster a greater awareness of the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories among younger people.
Kathleen then honoured the audience with a short reading from chapter one of her book in which she described the difficulty and frustration that the Israeli separation wall, with its countless barriers and checkpoints, are causing for Palestinian residents.
An animated panel discussion followed in which Bill and Kathleen were asked to tell the audience a little more about their journey and experiences in writing the book. Dr Daud Abdullah also took the opportunity to highlight the absurdity of the fact that this week the world celebrated the twenty year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and yet no one in the Western press is drawing the obvious parallels to the current existence of the bigger, longer and increasingly more devastating Israeli Separation Wall.
Following this, the floor was open to the audience to ask their own questions of the panel.
Among the many questions asked were ones regarding the value of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The panel had different takes on this matter. Whereas Bill and Kathleen were in favour of BDS and any other means of mobilising international solidarity for the Palestinian people, Oliver McTernan was slightly more wary and said that although boycotts were useful we should be careful not to penalise Jewish people in general and he pointed to the many Jewish friends of Palestine who themselves oppose the Israeli regime.
Please click here for a book review
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The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) wishes to clarify the points raised by a document published by the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC) on the 11th of November 2009 titled ‘Anwar Al-Awlaki: the UK Connections’, which alleges links between Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki and The Cordoba Foundation, as well as references to comments made by the leader of the opposition, David Cameron about our organisation in 2008.
This accusation regarding our association with Imam Al-Awlaki is made as a result of an event organised by Cage Prisoners in September 2009, which we agreed to support through undertaking a sponsorship package of the event. This agreement was made in August 2009 and the sponsorship fees were forwarded to Cage Prisoners within a few days of the agreement.
Upon the publication of the event’s advertisement a few weeks later, TCF became aware, for the first time that among the speakers was Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki via a video link. Immediately, TCF contacted the organisers and clearly communicated its serious reservations about the inclusion of Imam Al-Awlaki, and explained its position that any association with this person would go counter to the vision, policy and approach of TCF. Indeed, Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki has in recent years attacked and declared un-Islamic (Haram or Kufr) a number of initiatives and projects which TCF was either running or fully supported which encouraged further and wider engagement of young Muslims with British and European politics and the media. It was therefore to our satisfaction that he ultimately did not feature in the event proceedings.
In respect to David Cameron’s comment in a speech before the Community Security Trust on March 3rd, 2008, a well-known pro-Zionist organization, in which he accused The Cordoba Foundation of being a ‘front for the Muslim Brotherhood’, amongst other things, TCF wrote to Mr. Cameron on April 10, 2008, refuting a number of his claims and allegations featured his speech and seeking evidence and clarification of his accusations that TCF was as he described it.
The Cordoba Foundation has yet to receive a response from Mr. Cameron.
The Cordoba Foundation wishes to express its dismay towards the dire standards of professionalism, let alone accuracy, sound academic research and even truth, demonstrated by the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC). One would have expected from CSC a direct enquiry to ascertain the facts and distinguish truth from lies, or at least a clarification of the accusations leveled against TCF.
It is with regret that TCF notes that organisations like the CSC are repeatedly engaging in amateurish and flawed reporting for the simple purposes of achieving notoriety of the tabloid mudslinging genre. It is surprising that any political party, organization or individual should continue to accord such organisations credibility or respect.
The Cordoba Foundation continues to pursue its aims and objectives through actual projects, real initiatives and true engagement with those who matter for the future of our country.
The Cordoba Foundation
13th November 2009
Notes to editors
- For further information, please contact Amjad Saleem, Head of Communications on 020 89913372 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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.
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.”
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 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.
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”.