Private faith schools are resisting British values, says Ofsted chief | The Guardian

Significant report and issue:

Private faith schools run by religious conservatives are “deliberately resisting” British values and equalities law, according to the chief inspector of schools in England, who appealed for school inspectors to be given new powers to seize evidence during visits.

Source: Ofsted

Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, listed a string of disturbing policies and literature used by private faith schools, detailed in the school inspectorate’s annual report published on Wednesday.

“We have found texts that encourage domestic violence and the subjugation of women. We have found schools in which there is a flat refusal to acknowledge the existence of people who are different, so for example lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

“We also find well-meaning school leaders and governors who naively turn to religious institutions of a particularly conservative bent for advice about religious practice, not realising when this advice does not reflect mainstream thinking,” Spielman said at the report’s launch.

The chief inspector – who took over running the watchdog from Sir Michael Wilshaw at the start of the year – said the discoveries made for uncomfortable reading, denying it amounted to criticism of faith schools in general.

“When I see books in schools entitled Women Who Deserve to Go to Hell; children being educated in dank, squalid, conditions; children being taught solely religious texts at the expense of learning basic English and mathematics, I cannot let it be ignored,” said Spielman, who argued that inspectors should be able to remove such texts from school libraries.

The Ofsted report detailed its recent inspections of private faith schools, with 26% rated inadequate and 22% as requiring improvement – Ofsted’s two lowest categories.

Of the 140 small Muslim private schools inspected by Ofsted in the year, 28% were graded as inadequate, along with 38% of Jewish private schools and 18% of Christian schools.

Spielman had praise for the bulk of state schools, noting that 90% of primaries and nearly 80% of secondaries were rated as good or outstanding.

“If this speech generates any headlines, I doubt they will be ‘English education is good’,” Spielman said.

But the report also focused on a group of schools that Spielman said remained “intractable” to improvement, including a group of nearly 130 that had failed to achieve a good rating in inspections this year or at any time since 2005.

via Private faith schools are resisting British values, says Ofsted chief | Education | The Guardian


Cost of British citizenship for children is now 22 times more expensive than Germany | The Independent

I had not done the comparison of fees for children so the data in this article is revealing. The last time I checked, UK was also the most expensive for adults:

The Government is under pressure over the “astronomical” rise in the cost of British citizenship for children, which is now 22 times more expensive than in Germany.

Costs to register a child’s citizenship application have soared by 153 per cent in the last seven years, from £386 in 2010 to £973 today.

Scores of youngsters descended on Westminster on Wednesday morning with Citizens UK in protest against the fee, which sees many children unable to become British citizens despite having a legal right.

The fee is considerably higher than in other European countries, with the figure standing at 80 euros in Belgium, 55 euros in France and just 51 euros in Germany.

Each application costs the Home Office £386, meaning the department makes a £586 profit per child registered. With 40,537 applications made in the year to September 2017, the Home Office is expected to make almost £24m this year from children registering for citizenship.

The soaring costs mean a family with three children who have come from abroad and settled in the UK for 10 years, accessing citizenship for all members, including those born here, would have paid out more than £15,000 to be “naturalised” as British citizens, taking into account all migration fees.

Many of these families suffer in-work poverty due to their low wages, so are unable to afford the cost of citizenship, which can prevent children from fully participating in the life of their community, experts warn.

There are an estimated 120,000 “undocumented” children across the UK, more than half of whom are legally entitled to a UK passport. Many are unaware of their status until they apply to university, try to open a bank account or need a passport for foreign travel, according to Citizens UK.

Anne-Marie Canning, director of social mobility and student success at King’s College London, said this can lead to problems when youngsters wish to go into higher education, with many facing difficulties due to not having the correct documents to access student loans.

“There are a large number of students in Greater London who are unable to access university because they are locked out of the student loans system due to paperwork,” she said.

Revd Mother Ellen Eames and school children singing carols outside the Home Office. Hundreds delivered Christmas cards to Secretary of State Amber Rudd asking her to cut the cost of British Citizenship (James Asfa @ Citizens UK)
“We’ve heard stories of parents having to pick which of their children’s paperwork they process so they can access student finance, as they cannot afford to do it for all of their children. We and other universities in London and across the UK are concerned about this issue and have made scholarships available for these learners.

“If the Home Office reduced their fees it would enable more children and talented young people to secure their papers and access higher education like other students.”

Citizens UK leader Fiona Carrick Davis said: “Over the past few years Citizenship fees have risen astronomically and far exceed those of other European countries.

“Many of these children were born in the UK or have spent much of their lives in the UK and have a legal right to citizenship. This is their home, they are British in all respects except they don’t have Citizenship.

via Cost of British citizenship for children is now 22 times more expensive than Germany | The Independent

EUROPP – The question of citizenship in the Brexit divorce: UK and EU citizens’ rights compared

Some interesting polling data. No surprise that “on average British citizens are more supportive of their rights abroad compared to EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK:”

One of the key priorities for the EU during the Brexit negotiations is safeguarding citizens’ rights. This refers to 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK and 1.2 million UK nationals living in EU countries. The EU supports equal treatment in the UK of EU27 citizens as compared to UK nationals, and in the EU27 of UK nationals as compared to EU27 citizens, in accordance with Union law. In her Florence speech on 22 September, the UK Prime Minster, Theresa May, offered to incorporate legal protections for EU citizens living in the UK into UK law as part of the exit treaty.

However, since the UK triggered Article 50 on 29 March, there has been little substantive progress in the Brexit negotiations with the question of citizens’ rights being one of the primary sticking points. A European Parliament resolution criticised the lack of sufficient progress on this issue, with the Parliament’s Brexit chief, Guy Verhofstadt, arguing that ‘citizens’ rights are not being well-managed’ suggesting the possibility of a potential European Parliament veto of the Brexit deal.

Against this background of uncertainty, it is important to understand how citizens’ rights feature in the hearts and minds of the British public. To do so, we designed a survey, conducted by YouGov for the University of York on 29 June just a few days after official negotiations for departure began between the UK and the EU on 19 June. The key questions we sought to address were:

  • What is the opinion of British citizens on the rights of EU citizens in the UK as part of the Brexit divorce?
  • How do attitudes towards the rights of UK citizens abroad compare to attitudes towards the rights of EU citizens in the UK?

Our sample consisted of 1,698 individuals and was representative of the general British population in terms of age, gender, education, social grade, region, political attention and EU referendum vote. We broke down the question of citizens’ rights into four subsequent components that relate to freedom of movement in the EU, i.e. the right to freely work, reside and do business in another EU member state, as well as receive welfare.

UK citizens’ attitudes towards EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK

Overall, British public opinion is dispersed on EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK, as shown in Figure 1. There is much more support for doing business in the UK as opposed to working and living in the UK. The least support is observed on the question of access to welfare where we may observe comparatively much more disagreement and potentially a level of polarisation among the electorate.

On a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 denotes full disagreement and 10 full agreement, approximately a quarter of the respondents (24.16%) fully disagree that EU citizens should be allowed to claim welfare benefits in the UK. If we were to add those who have responded below 5, i.e. the middle point of the scale, then this proportion reaches 50% of the respondents. This shows that opposition to EU citizens’ accessing welfare benefits in the UK is much higher to opposition to EU citizens’ right to live, work and do business in the UK, which is at 20.84%, 19.57% and 9.25% respectively. Put differently, the majority of British citizens tend to be in favour of EU citizens living, working and doing business in the UK, but they are not as happy for them to claim welfare benefits in their country.

UK citizens’ attitudes toward UK citizens’ rights in the EU-27

How do these findings compare to how British citizens view their own rights abroad? Here the picture is slightly different. Figure 2 shows that on average British citizens are more supportive of their rights abroad compared to EU-27 citizens’ rights in the UK. Overall, fewer people disagree that UK citizens should have the right to live, work, do business and claim welfare benefits in other EU countries (responses below point 5 on the scale). These percentages range from 14.74% disagreeing that UK citizens should have the right to live in an EU country, 14.04% being hostile to UK citizens having the right to work in the EU, only 7.74% disagreeing that UK citizens should be able to do business in other EU countries, and 44.9% arguing that UK citizens should not receive welfare abroad. The latter number on UK citizens’ welfare rights in other EU countries is about 5 percentage points lower than those who oppose EU citizens’ welfare access in the UK. That being said, however, British citizens are similarly polarised on the question of welfare access even if this concerns their own nationals abroad.

Our findings suggest that although the question of EU immigration is very important among the public, and – as we know – contributed to how people voted in the Brexit referendum in 2016, it is much more nuanced and potentially contradictory than we had previously thought.

First, often – at least in the British case – some nationals may have ‘double standards’ not viewing non-nationals having equal rights to themselves. This might undermine the UK government’s popularity following a Brexit divorce deal that guarantees equal rights for both UK nationals in EU member states and EU-27 citizens in the UK.

Second, the British public is much more agreeable to EU citizens’ living, working and doing business in the UK, but they are considerably less comfortable with them sharing welfare. This suggests that it is the social aspect of EU citizenship that is the key issue featuring in the hearts and minds of the majority of the British public. This could be because the anti-EU campaigns, parties and individuals heavily politicised the welfare aspect of EU integration during the Brexit referendum, by for example associating EU membership costs with a deficit in the NHS.

via EUROPP – The question of citizenship in the Brexit divorce: UK and EU citizens’ rights compared

Hate Crimes Soared in England and Wales After Brexit |

 Latest UK stats:

Hate crime offenses in England and Wales rose to the highest point yet recorded in the year leading up to March 2017, according to official figures released on Tuesday by the government.

There was a 29% spike in recorded hate crimes— which include any crime motivated by religion, race, sexuality, disability or transgender identity— in the 12 months before March 2017 (80,393 offenses) compared to the same period between 2015-16 (62,518 offenses)

The vote to leave the E.U. in 2016 and better recording methods attributed to the rise, the government said. “The increase over the last year is thought to reflect both a genuine rise in hate crime around the time of the E.U. referendum” Britain’s Home Office, or interior department, said in a statement.

Anecdotal accounts flooded social media of attacks on some European communities in the country following the vote to leave the E.U. in June, which Leave campaign critics attribute to a rise in xenophobic rhetoric during and after Brexit campaign.

Hate crimes are still under-reported especially when the crime is committed online, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for hate crime, said in a statement . ” I will be working alongside the Government to strengthen our nationally co-ordinated response to hate crime” he said.

The majority of offenses recorded during the period were motivated by race. The report notes that there was a spike in the number of racially or religiously aggravated offenses after the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack in March, when a man killed 5 people after driving a car into pedestrians and stabbing a police officer.

Provisional figures provided by the police showed jihadist attacks over the summer led to a four-month sustained increase in hate crimes, starting with Westminster attack followed by the Manchester Arena bombing and London Bridge attack on June 3. The level of hate crime offences decreased in the following days and the pattern repeated itself after the Finsbury Park attack in June 19— when a van ploughed into worshippers near Finsbury Park mosque.

Disability and transgender hate crimes saw the largest increases 2016-17, with a 53% and 45% increase respectively compared to the year before, but the Home Office said these spikes were driven by improved identification and recording of offenses, as opposed to a dramatic increase in attacks.

Despite the rise in offenses, prosecutions for hate crimes actually declined in the year to 2016/2017, from 15,442 to 14,480 people. “The drop in referrals recorded last year has impacted on the number of completed prosecutions in 2016/17 and we are working with the police at a local and national level to understand the reasons for the overall fall in referrals in the past two years” Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said in a statement.

“Police have improved the reporting procedures across forces, but we can do better at securing convictions – we need anyone who has been a victim of hate crime to report the abuse and the abuser to police to make sure these offenders are brought to justice” Hamilton said in a statement.

Source: Hate Crimes Soared in England and Wales After Brexit |

Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it): Shaista Aziz

Aziz on the first UK audit on racial disparity:

Ms. May announced she had commissioned the report in September 2016 but it was only published last week, alongside the Prime Minister’s call to address “burning injustices.”

The report is the latest in a number of government reports released this year alone into the state of Britain’s minorities, focusing on integration, the criminal justice system and social mobility.

There is nothing new in the report – but the one thing it has succeeded in is this: there is now accessible data stored in one place, laying bare the ugly truths of structural racism in Britain. There are huge discrepancies in the opportunities afforded to and the value of life placed on non-white people in Britain.

The audit shows black men are nearly three times more likely to be arrested than white men, and black children three times more likely to be excluded from school. Black, Asian and mixed-race women are most likely to experience common mental health disorders. Mental health is a complex health issue – but let there be no doubt, racism and the impact of racism is visceral. For many on the receiving end, it manifests mentally and physically.

The same day the racial audit report was released, a report by the Runnymede Trust and Women’s Budget Group showed how the government’s cruel and disastrous austerity program is disproportionately impacting women of colour the hardest. They are still most likely to live in poverty.

The report says the poorest black and Asian households have faced the largest fall in living standards: 19 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

Tinkering and repackaging structural systems of racial oppression rather than reforming and dismantling them is something our political leaders and establishment have perfected over the decades.

As evidence of the deepening structural racial injustice and disparity keeps mounting, so does the deliberately dishonest rhetoric about racism.

Britain has never been comfortable about talking about race; any attempt to talk about racism truthfully and meaningfully almost always turns into an exercise of defensive derailment.

In 2017, in Britain (just as in the United States) racism is being weaponized by the powerful against minorities and the marginalized.

Even when reams of data and the realities of our lives show we are being denied our rights to live as equal human beings and citizens, we are told the data is creating a culture of victimization and victimhood. We need to stop playing the race card, they say.

This is the ultimate political punching down.

The shameful, uncomfortable truth is that there is a lack of genuine political and societal will to tackle structural racism in Britain. Because, in order to dismantle structures of oppression, it is the privileged who have to make way for change – and it is not in their interest to turn the tables on a system that they benefit the most from and denies minorities our rights.

Source: Systemic racism thrives in Britain (as does the dishonesty about tackling it) – The Globe and Mail

Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | The Guardian

Sound, although same rationale could be applied to single sex schools:

Schools in Britain will no longer be able to substantially segregate boys and girls, after the court of appeal ruled that a co-educational faith school in Birminghamhad caused unlawful discrimination by separating the two sexes.

The court overturned a ruling by the high court last year involving Al-Hijrah school, a voluntary-aided mixed-sex state school that had been strongly criticised by Ofsted school inspectors for failing to uphold British values.

On appeal, Ofsted argued that the school had breached the 2010 Equalities Act by strictly segregating pupils from the age of nine, teaching them in different classrooms and making them use separate corridors and play areas. The segregation policy was also applied to clubs and school trips.

About 25 other mixed schools in England have similar rules and they now face having to overhaul their policies in the wake of the ruling by Sir Terence Etherton, the master of rolls, Lady Justice Gloster and Lord Justice Beatson.

Ofsted said it would now look closely at the other schools with similar policies, which includes several Orthodox Jewish and Christian faith schools.

“Ofsted’s job is to make sure that all schools properly prepare children for life in modern Britain,” said Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, after the ruling was announced. “Educational institutions should never treat pupils less favourably because of their sex, or for any other reason.

“This case involves issues of real public interest and has significant implications for gender equality, Ofsted, government, and the wider education sector. We will be considering the ruling carefully to understand how this will affect future inspections.”

Rebecca Hilsenrath, the chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We welcome today’s confirmation by the court of appeal that it is unlawful for a mixed school to segregate girls and boys completely. Socialisation is a core part of a good quality education, just as much as formal learning and, without it, we’re harming children’s life chances right from the start.”

The appeal court judges said segregation had been tacitly approved by the Department for Education and Ofsted in the past, so the schools involved should be treated sympathetically and given time to adjust their policies.

“The relevant central government authorities should not pivot in the way they have gone about this without recognising the real difficulties those affected will face as a consequence,” the judges said in their ruling.

The ruling applies only to co-educational schools. Single-sex schools are given a specific exemption from discrimination claims related to admissions under the Equalities Act, although it is unclear if the provisions would extend to arguments that both sexes suffer from the absence of the other.

In ruling that Al-Hijrah had unlawfully discriminated against its pupils, the court stated: “An individual girl pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a boy pupil because, and only because, of her sex; and an individual boy pupil cannot socialise and intermix with a girl pupil because, and only because, of his sex. Each is, therefore, treated less favourably than would be the case if their sex was different.”

Source: Islamic school’s gender segregation is unlawful, court of appeal rules | Education | The Guardian

ICYMI- No room for complacency: The Economist on #Antisemitism

Good overall assessment, picking up on the Institute for Jewish Policy Research covered in an earlier post (Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News):

ALL over Europe, there is concern about an increase in anti-Semitism, and deliberation over how to respond. Earlier this month the Parisian home of a 78-year-old Jewish community leader was attacked by intruders who shouted: “You are Jews, where is the money?” Along with his wife and son, the man was taken hostage, beaten and robbed, in what the government acknowledged was “an act …directly related to their religion”. Around the same time, the former head of a school in Marseille made waves by saying that when he was in charge he would advise Jews against enrolling, for fear of harassment.

Meanwhile the Vatican recently co-organised a symposiumin Rome on anti-Semitism and minority rights in the Middle East, at which Tony Blair was the main speaker. The former British prime minister declared:  “There is anti-Semitism in the East, but also in the West. There are manifestations in European countries, and also in the United Kingdom.”

So how bad are things in Mr Blair’s homeland? On the face of things, Britain is a relatively good place to be Jewish. When anti-Semitic feelings across Europe are compared, the UK tends to do well. But a new study by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research gives an unusually nuanced picture of opinion in Britain.

It found that hard-core anti-Semites, who “express multiple anti-Semitic attitudes readily and confidently”, amounted to 2.4% of the population, while a further 3% could be described as “softer” anti-Semites, expressing somewhat fewer negative views. To probe their opinions, respondents were invited to react to propositions like “Jews think they are better than other people” or “The interests of Jews in Britain are different from….the rest” or “Jews have too much power in Britain…”

The study said that there was a “much larger number of people who believe a small number of negative ideas about Jews but…may not be consciously hostile or prejudiced towards them”. It found that 15% of Britons agreed at least in part to two or more anti-Semitic propositions, with a further 15% agreeing at least in part to one of them. The researchers’ interpretation was cautious:

“This emphatically does not mean that 30% of the population of Great Britain is anti-Semitic…Rather the 30% figure captures the current level of the diffusion of anti-Semitic ideas in British society, and offers an indication of the likelihood of British Jews encountering such ideas.”

The report also tackled the sensitive question of how far hostility towards Jews is linked with negative feelings towards Israel. It found the two mind-sets to be correlated, but not co-extensive. Thus 86% of those British people who hold no anti-Israel attitudes hold no anti-Semitic views either; but among those who hold a large number of anti-Israel attitudes, only 26% are completely free of anti-Semitic feelings.

Still, there clearly are people who are strongly critical of Israel, but not anti-Jewish, and a somewhat smaller contingent who harbour anti-Semitic sentiments but have no particular gripe with the Jewish state. As the report puts it, “anti-Semitism and anti-Israel attitudes exist both separately and together.”

Meanwhile Germany this week joined Britain, Austria and Romania in adopting a working definition of anti-Semitism drafted last year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a Berlin-based body. It says:

“Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The definition is controversial. It has been criticised by some British Jews on the political left who argued that it could muzzle legitimate criticism of Israel, and by a leading British barrister who concluded after studying the text, and the accompanying guidelines, that it was both too narrow (it might fail to capture some anti-Jewish conduct) and too broad, in the sense that free speech over the Middle East, for example in universities, might be curtailed.

In its recommendation on how to apply the definition, the IHRA tries to give an idea of how far, in its view, disapproval of Israel can reasonably go. It says that “manifestations [of anti-Semitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

The European Jewish Congress, which styles itself as the “sole political organisational representative of European Jewry”, hailed the German move as “vitally important”. It would help to change a state of affairs where “astonishingly, anti-Semitism used to be defined by the perpetrator not the victim”.

Source: No room for complacency

Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

Despite the headline, a more nuanced poll and study than most on antisemitism or other forms of racism and prejudice:

More than a quarter of British people hold at least one anti-Semitic view, according to a study of attitudes to Jewish people.

The Institute for Jewish Policy Research said the finding came from the largest and most detailed survey of attitudes towards Jews and Israel ever conducted in Britain.

But it said the study did not mean that British people were anti-Semitic.

Researchers also found a correlation in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel attitudes.

The study found a relatively small number of British adults – 2.4% – expressed multiple anti-Semitic attitudes “readily and confidently”.

But when questioned about whether they agreed with a number of statements, including “Jews think they are better than other people”, and “Jews exploit holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, 30% agreed with at least one statement.

Despite this, the researchers said they found that levels of anti-Semitism in Great Britain were among the lowest in the world.

A spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which has recorded high levels anti-Semitic crime, said: “We believe the new findings, data and nuance in this study will help us to work even more effectively with partners inside and outside the Jewish community to tackle this problem.”

The report said about 70% of the population of Britain had a favourable opinion of Jews and did not hold any anti-Semitic ideas or views.

Muslim views

The IJPR’s researchers questioned 5,466 people face-to-face and online in the winter of 2016/17 – 995 of these were Muslims, although a smaller number of Muslims were included in the statisticians’ nationally representative sample.

They found more than half of Muslims (55%) held at least one anti-Semitic attitude.

Dr Jonathan Boyd, director of the IJPR, said: “Our intention here was not to make any broad generalisations about the Muslim population and their attitudes towards Jews.

“There does seem to be some relationship between levels of religiosity in the Muslim population and anti-Semitism.”

The institute said it wanted to promote an “elastic view”, making a distinction between people who are clearly anti-Semites, and ideas that are perceived by Jews as anti-Semitic.

In December 2016 the government adopted an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism: “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”.

Questions on Israel

The researchers also questioned people about their views on statements about Israel and the conflict with the Palestinians.

Their report said fewer than one in five people questioned (17%) had a favourable opinion of Israel, whereas about one in three (33%) held an unfavourable view.

The report said: “The position of the British population towards Israel can be characterised as one of uncertainty or indifference, but among those who hold a view, people with sympathies towards the Palestinians are numerically dominant.”

Dr Boyd said: “Anti-Israel and anti-Jewish views exist both together and in isolation.

“The higher the level of anti-Israel attitudes measured, the more likely they are to hold anti-Semitic views as well.”

The study also revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes were higher than normal among people who classified their politics as “very right-wing”.

Among this group they were two to four times higher than among the general population.

The researchers said the prevalence was considerably higher among right-wingers than on the left.

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, from the Liberal Judaism movement, said: “The report is important for helping us understand where the anxiety comes from within the community at large and for understanding why anti-semitism seems to be the prevailing discourse within the community.

“We must be really careful that it does not come to define us and that we celebrate the positive interactions with society at large.

“What is arguably more important … is to educate and interact, to be more outward facing and open to discussion than inward facing.”

Source: Over a quarter of British people ‘hold anti-Semitic attitudes’, study finds – BBC News

ICYMI: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

Not too surprising:

Britons’ attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “worsened” with more than half of all respondents to a new survey believing the religion “poses a threat” to the West.

“The fear and hostility displayed towards Muslims is deeply worrying, despite most people claiming that they stand firm against extremists’ attempt to conflate their heinous actions with that of an entire religion,” Hope not Hate (HnH) chief executive Nick Lowles said of the finding’s of the charity’s Fear And Hope 2017 report which was released on Wednesday.

“Clearly there is a lot of work to be done here, both by those tackling hate crimes and misinformation, and potentially by Muslim communities themselves.”

The report, billed as “one of the most comprehensive studies of English attitudes towards contemporary issues”, found that despite views on immigration “softening”, attitudes towards Muslims and Islam have “simultaneously worsened among the more hostile sections of society”.

The report, based on a Populus survey of 4,000 people in “six identity tribes” across England, found that 52% of respondents believe Islam “poses a threat to the West”. As a result of recent terror attacks 42% of those surveyed were now “more suspicious” of Muslims and a quarter of Brits believe Islam is a “dangerous religion that incites violence”.

The study found older people were more prone to Islamophobia, “painting a worrying set of views” which HnH said would require “significant effort” to address.

Anti-hate charity Tell Mama told HuffPost UK that it was not surprised by the survey’s findings and called on mosques and Islamic institutions to do more to “break down barriers”.

“We know, given the levels of aggression towards victims, that there is a foothold taking place within small sections of the UK, around anti-Muslim hatred,” Tell Mama director Iman Atta said.

“For the survey to show that 25% of Brits believe that Islam is a dangerous religion, is concerning and we need more mosques and Islamic institutions to engage with their neighbours and break down barriers that there may be. Also, for 52% of respondents to believe that Islam poses a threat risk to the West shows that a lot more work needs to be done by Muslims and NGO’s to counter such growing divisions.”

Atta added:  “We are the vanguard of trying to tackle anti-Muslim hatred and we call upon others to join us in standing against all forms of hatred, including anti-Muslim hatred. There is much work to be done and clearly, there is a long road ahead. If we do not challenge this, it will strengthen Islamist extremism as well as alienating large numbers of Muslims.”

Source: ‘Deeply Worrying’ Fears Around Muslims And Islam Revealed In Damning Report | HuffPost UK

New national council to issue progressive rulings for Britain’s Muslims | The Guardian

Worth noting:

Britain’s most senior Muslim clerics are to set up their first national council to issue progressive religious rulings that “embed Islam in a 21st-century British context”.

Qari Asim, one of Britain’s most prominent imams, said the central religious authority would promote an interpretation of Islam that was in line with British values.

Asim, the chief imam of Makkah mosque in Leeds, said the British Muslim community was crying out for an authoritative and credible voice that could speak out on issues as diverse as terrorism, obesity, organ donation and Islamophobia.

“People are proud and confident of their religious identity as well as their national identity, but at times they’re not getting enough theological or doctrinal guidance on some of their daily issues,” he said.

The national body, to consist of senior imams who will consult experts on issues, would be the first central religious authority for British Muslims. It would deliver religious rulings on topics that attract diverse views across the Muslim community, with the aim of providing clarity to young British Muslims, Asim said.

“This is about providing clarity on some of the sociopolitical issues, whether it be forced marriages, [female genital mutilation], honour killing,” he said. “These practices are not sanctioned by the faith Islam but they are cultural practices that have penetrated the Muslim community of particular backgrounds.

“The attempt is to embed Islam in a 21st-century British context. It’s about contextualising Islam in Britain.”

Asim, 39, was recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list in 2012 for working to build bridges between communities in Leeds since the 7 July 2005 terror attack. He is an adviser to a commons inquiry into sharia councils and has campaigned against forced marriages and domestic violence. The imam is seen as a leading progressive figure in the British Muslim community.

Unlike the Church of England, there is no hierarchical structure to Islam in Britain, with most mosques operating independently. Asim said the new body would make rulings in a similar way to national religious bodies in many Sunni Muslim countries, although here it would be independent of government.

“It would lose credibility if it was state-backed or state-influenced,” Asim said. “The intention isn’t to have a mouthpiece for the government: it’s about providing a credible, authoritative voice for Muslims.”

Asim said: “We see the need for this as Muslims are continually being asked to speak on behalf of other Muslims. It’s a council that will be able to speak on behalf of other Muslims and also challenge the establishment where needed.

“We want to protect our young people from the extremist narrative [of those] who are brainwashing and recruiting them, but at the same time we want them to feel comfortable and confident in their national heritage and uphold the values of democracy, rule of law, justice and compassion.”

Asim, who described Thursday’s terror attack in Spain as depraved, said there would be diverse views on issues including abortion, organ donation or climate change, but that organisation would seek to come to a formal position by a unanimous or majority vote and after hearing expert opinion on those topics.

“There are going to inevitably be diverse views on different issues, but the point is that we have a dialogue and debate about them and reach some form of consensus, whether it be unanimous or a majority, where there is clarity for young British Muslims,” he said.