We’re in the middle of another busy and exciting period at IHRC. Here is a selection of recent activities and what’s coming soon.
As ever please remember us in your prayers and consider giving us a donation using any of the methods listed on our website
Publications and reports
THE LONG VIEW
The fourth issue of the Long View, our quarterly journal exploring current affairs in greater depth, went out in November. The lead article by Zvaid Jughashvili explains how the The Salafization of the second Chechnya war which broke out at the turn of the millennium not only defeated the independence hopes of the heroic Chechens but has also succeeded in destabilising and undermining liberation movements and Islamist politics elsewhere. Saudi Arabian backed and inspired Salafi-Wahhabi fighters from the Caucasus and other areas of the former Soviet Union today form the backbone of an itinerant Muslim army that has served western imperialist interests in Libya, Egypt and Syria. The discovery of 39 dead migrants in a lorry container near London last October threw into sharp relief once again the perilous journeys increasing numbers of people are making to reach a better life in Europe. Ahmed Uddin looks at how their life or death decisions are being forced by widening economic inequality between the Global North and the Global South and/or conflicts and/or climate change imposed upon their countries by the insatiable appetite of the former for power and resources. Commemorated all over the world, Arbaeen is a relatively underreported event given its scale and importance in the Shia calendar. This year some 20 million people descended on the Iraqi city of Karbala in Iraq to mark the occasion. Ahmed Kaballo was among them and writes about how he was struck by the egalitarianism and spirit of brotherhood that pervades the occasion. In recent years the Sinterklaas Festival in the Netherlands has become something of a battleground for anti-racism campaigners aiming to redefine what it means to be Dutch in the modern age. They argue that the racist aspects of the commemoration of Sinterklaas are offensive and an affront to the memory of those who suffered from European colonialism. In our final piece Sandew Hira charts the progress of anti-racism activists in achieving the beginning of a transformation in social attitudes towards Sinterklaas and people of colour in general.
THE TIMES HATCHET JOB
In October, the Times launched a scathing front-page attack on IHRC. The accusations were the same Islamophobic tropes regularly trotted out by The Times and its right-wing stable mates against all non-conformist Muslim civil society groups: We are in hock to a hostile foreign power, Iran; we create a divisive “us versus them” dichotomy; and we abuse democratic freedoms to undermine democracy itself. IHRC’s Faisal Bodi wrote a response to the accusations saying the attack is symptomatic of an Establishment that seeks to drive dissenting Muslim voices out of the public space.
The revocation of Article 370 by the Indian government effectively removing the theoretical autonomy granted to the majority Muslim state following Independence led to an intensification of the military crackdown on the region. IHRC has published an updated resource page on our website consisting of latest actions, press releases, background resources, events and other ways you can join in the campaign for justice for Kashmir.
The campaign to free Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky continues in the face of ongoing persecution of his Islamic Movement by the Nigerian government.
On November 12 IHRC co-organised a demonstration outside Abuja House in London, the residence of Nigerian presidents when they visit the UK, to protest against the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. Protestors urged President Bukhari to implement due process, abide by court orders, stop killing innocent people and release those who are being unlawfully detained.
The movement’s leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah, among others, have been in detention since the Islamic Movement was subjected to a brutal attack by government forces in 2015 resulting in the deaths of over 1000 supporters, including three sons of the couple. The attack marked the beginning of an official campaign to crush the movement which claims a mass following in Nigeria and has been highly critical of government policies especially vis a vis the United States and Israel.
AUTHOR EVENING WITH KATY SIAN
We were privileged to host an author evening with Katy Sian (Lecturer in Sociology at the University of York) on Wednesday, 28 August in which she discussed her book, Navigating Institutional Racism in British Universities. Katy explored the myth around how universities are often seen as a liberal space where nobody is racist or people do not discriminate against others. In contrast, universities are key institutions in society that have perpetuated the idea that there’s no such thing as racism. Rather, diversity is a safe word used in universities, as opposed to anti-racism. Furthermore, Katy pointed out that racism in the university setting is not akin to the racism that is experienced on the streets, instead it is the ‘liberal racism’, microaggressions and subtle, hidden forms of racism that take a huge toll on people of colour. The under-representation of academics of colour, Islamophobic abuse by students, and the exoticisation of women academics of colour suggest that the issue is widespread and systemic.
Full event report can be read at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/event-reports/24149-event-report-navigating-institutional-racism-in-british-universities-with-katy-sian/
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOP
Many pre-teens and teenagers go through the dilemma of not knowing what to do or how to reach their full potential. On 2 November IHRC hosted an empowerment workshop by Tiny Mu’mins aimed at showing youth the tools that can equip them to identify and achieve their true potential. The workshop focussed on teaching children and young people how they learn and how the brain works to significantly increase perseverance in learning.
Postcolonial Banter is Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan’s debut collection and IHRC was privileged to host the spoken-word poet at an author evening on 17 October.
Suhaiymah talked about the importance of creating a source of knowledge when something is written, and so she wanted it to be something people could learn from. “It is also a call for action and a provocation. Being a visibly Muslim woman of Pakistani heritage in the UK, there are certain things that people would want me to write about, certain gazes upon the book, upon me and the writing, so it is a poetry collection that is trying to be other things and not just be the thing that it is said to be… It is a reflection of the work I am trying to do: avoid the gazes as well as speak back to them. All in all, it is a personal and political collection of thoughts and questions that I wanted to share with world,” she told the audience.
Suhaiymah’s words are a disruption of comfort, a call to action, a redistribution of knowledge and an outpouring of dissent. Hence, whilst political and complex in nature, her poetry is also just the reality of life for her and others like her. Life in a world where structural violence is rife makes it a shared knowledge, and sometimes, when possible, that shared knowledge is the subversive in-joke, the bonding glance of solidarity, or the passing nod of affection used by those who know it to survive those structures themselves. The issues she deals with range from from critiquing racism, systemic Islamophobia, the function of the nation-state and rejecting secularist visions of identity, to reflecting on the difficulty of writing and penning responses to conversations she wishes she’d had.
Postcolonial Banter is available to purchase via the IHRC bookshop https://shop.ihrc.org/postcolonial-banter-suhaiymah-Manzoor-khan
In conjunction with Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC), IHRC is screening the documentary “The Uprising” (1h 33m) and Q&A sessions with filmmaker Pravini Baboeram and Arzu Merali (head of research at IHRC).
“Countless films have been made that touch on issues related to racism. But very few of them actually address the link with the colonial past and the common challenges different communities of colour face. And none of the films I encountered focus on the European context and current struggles of people of colour.”
The Uprising zooms in on collective challenges of communities of color. In nine self-written songs Pravini connects the fight against Blackface, the struggle for the recognition of colonial crimes that the Netherlands has committed in Indonesia, the fight for the liberation of Palestine and the struggle in the political field for an inclusive society. “The Uprising” offers a unique view of the resistance against racism in Europe through the eyes of people of colour.
Fri 29 Nov 2019 7:00pm to 9:30pm
Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
Saturday 30 November 2019 8pm – 10.30pm
Full event details can be found here https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/events/24556-the-uprising-screenings-and-qas-edinburgh-glasgow/
GENOCIDE MEMORIAL DAY POETRY COMPETITION
The deadline for our annual Genocide Memorial Day poetry competition is closing in. The competition is held every year as part of GMD. Entrants are encouraged to reflect the theme of ‘protecting humanity from genocide’ in their poem. The competition is open to anyone in the UK aged 11 to 18 at the time of entering. The closing date for entries for this year’s competition is 1 December 2019. Winners will be announced on or around GMD in 2020.
First Prize: Paid trip to Bosnia with an accompanying adult in July covering the date of the annual Srebrenica memorial. Includes flights, accommodation and meals. Winners will visit key sites in the war with a guide to the events that took place.
Second prize: £50 IHRC Bookshop voucher.
Third prize: £25 IHRC Bookshop Voucher.
Full details can be found at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/genocide-memorial-day/media/9992-poetry-competition/?fbclid=IwAR19Op5kWOUGKQ2lQF4JnYBaniKmjmX7e9LsLH6ptvzXAduZxOyZWF8oTzI
The sixth annual IHRC Islamophobia Conference will discuss the different ways in which civil society space has shrunk, with a particular focus on Muslim civil society organisations and how Islamophobia is driving much of this. The event will be held concurrently in London and Glasgow and both are co-organised with Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC).
In January 2018, a report by the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency hit out at governments for creating a hostile environment for civil society organisations (CSOs) via adverse regulatory environments, withholding of financial resources, putting up barriers to participation in law and policy-making and failing to ensure safe spaces for human rights defenders who are increasingly vulnerable to attacks, and harassment including delegitimising and stigmatising discourse. The effect of this has been to produce policies that are often counterproductive, discriminatory and which do not address the fundamental concerns, needs and aspirations of Britain’s approximately three million Muslims.
This year’s Islamophobia Conference on 14 December focusses on the ever-decreasing spaces within which to have political conversations in the UK and beyond. We encourage everyone concerned with these issues to attend and take part in the conversations.
Confirmed speakers include Haim Bresheeth, Abed Choudhury, Ramón Grosfoguel, Narzanin Massoumi, Fatima Rajina, Susann Witt-Stahl
WHEN: Saturday 14 December 2019
TIME: Lunch will be served from 12pm and the conference will take place from 1pm to 5pm
WHERE: P21 Gallery, 21 Chalton Street, Kings Cross, London NW1 1JD
Professor Ramón Grosfoguel, a leading decolonial scholar, and Sandew Hira, the co-director of the Decolonial International Network, to discuss the climate change action movement joined us on 16 December to talk about how narratives around climate change are riddled with colonial assumptions.
This event will be streamed live on IHRC.TV and Facebook.
WHEN: Monday, 16 December 2019
WHERE: IHRC Bookshop, 202 Preston Road, Wembley, London HA9 8PA
More info at https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/events/24518-decolonising-ecology/
YOUTH EMPOWERMENT WORKSHOP
Many pre-teens and teenagers go through the dilemma of not knowing what to do or how to reach their full potential. IHRC is to host an empowerment workshop by Tiny Mu’mins aimed at showing youth the tools that can equip them to identify and achieve their true potential. The workshop focussed on teaching children and young people how they learn and how the brain works to significantly increase perseverance in learning.
WHEN: Monday, 30 December 2019
TIMES: – 7-10 years old: 11.30am to 1.30pm
– 11-14 years old: 3.30pm to 5.30pm
WHERE: IHRC Bookshop, 202 Preston Road, Wembley, London HA9 8PA
For more information visit https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/events/24404-reaching-for-the-stars-a-youth-empowerment-workshop/