Multiculturalism and Child Protection in the UK: Sharia Law and Other Failures

Today, 11 June 2013, 18.00 hours, at London School of Economics, STC.S75 in St. Clement’s Building, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, Anne-Marie Waters and Baroness Cox will be speaking about One Law for All’s newest report on the state of children’s rights in Britain. The report “Multiculturalism and Child Protection in the UK: Sharia Law and Other Failures” can be read here.

The talk is going to be chaired by Professor Eileen Munro, CBE and review the effects of state multiculturalism on the matter of child protection in Britain.

Anne-Marie Waters and Baroness Cox will show that a multicultural approach, adopted by local authorities and other public authorities, to child protection is placing children in danger and creating parallel societies. Furthermore, the talk is going to topicalise sharia tribunals and their increasing authority in the issue of child custody, questioning the impact this has, and is likely to have, on the equal protection of children regardless of race or ethnicity.

Anne Marie Waters is spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign. She campaigns against Sharia and religious Laws as she believes they represent a sacrifice of the rights of women in the name of legal and cultural relativism. She is a council member and campaigner for the National Secular Society, and campaigns more broadly for gender and race equality. She also writes and speaks on the importance of trade unionism, democracy, and Government and public sector accountability.

Baroness (Caroline) Cox was made a Life Peer in 1982 and was a deputy speaker of the House of Lords from 1985 to 2005. She was Founder Chancellor of Bournemouth University; Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University from 2006-2013 and isanHon as well as Vice President of the Royal College of Nursing. She also was a founder Trustee of MERLIN [Medical Emergency Relief International] and is Chief Executive of HART [Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust].

Eileen Munro is currently Professor of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In June 2010, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, asked Professor Munro to conduct an independent review to improve child protection in England. Her final report was published in May 2011 and contained fifteen recommendations, all of which were subsequently accepted by the government. For services to children and families, Professor Munro received a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2012.

You can find the Facebook Event here.

What’s wrong with multiculturalism

Kenan Malik has yet another brilliant essay on multiculturalism. He says:

Part of the problem in discussions about multiculturalism is that the term has, in recent years, come to have two meanings that are all too rarely distinguished. The first is what I call the lived experience of diversity. The second is multiculturalism as a political process, the aim of which is to manage that diversity. The experience of living in a society that is less insular, more vibrant and more cosmopolitan is something to welcome and cherish. It is a case for cultural diversity, mass immigration, open borders and open minds.

As a political process, however, multiculturalism means something very different. It describes a set of policies, the aim of which is to manage and institutionalize diversity by putting people into ethnic and cultural boxes, defining individual needs and rights by virtue of the boxes into which people are put, and using those boxes to shape public policy. It is a case, not for open borders and minds, but for the policing of borders, whether physical, cultural or imaginative.

The conflation of lived experience and political policy has proved highly invidious. On the one hand, it has allowed many on the right – and not just on the right – to blame mass immigration for the failures of social policy and to turn minorities into the problem. On the other hand, it has forced many traditional liberals and radicals to abandon classical notions of liberty, such as an attachment to free speech, in the name of defending diversity. That is why it is critical to separate these two notions of multiculturalism, to defend diversity as lived experience – and all that goes with it, such as mass immigration and cultural openness – but to oppose multiculturalism as a political process.

You must read this now: PART 1 and PART 2.

By the way, have I ever mentioned that I can’t get enough of Kenan’s writings?

 

Freedom of Expression, Multiculturalism and Political Islam

I got back from Kamloops yesterday. Though I was exhausted, I’m really glad I went – fantastic people, speakers and organisers!

Here’s the speech I gave:

* Kuwait’s parliament recently voted in favour of a legal amendment that would make blasphemy a crime punishable by death following the arrest of a man accused of insulting Mohamed on Twitter.

* In Saudi Arabia, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old reporter from Jeddah, faces the death penalty for blasphemy after he Tweeted an imaginary conversation with Mohammad.

* In April, two young Tunisians, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji, (one in absentia) were sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons of Mohammad.

* Alex Aan, a 30 year old atheist, faces up to 5 years in prison charged with blasphemy for saying there is no god on Facebook.

* Asia Bibi faces execution in Pakistan for blasphemy.

* In Egypt, a court upheld the conviction of comedian, Adel Imam, of ‘offending Islam’. Author Alaa al-Aswany says: the court ruling sets Egypt back to the “darkness of the Middle Ages” and that this is “an unimaginable crime of principle”.

* In Britain, 17 year old Rhys Morgan was forced to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon or face expulsion from his Sixth Form College and there were demands by various student unions at London universities that Atheist societies remove Jesus and Mo cartoons from their Facebook page.

None of this is new.

Having been involved in the fight against Islamism and the Islamic Republic of Iran for some 25 years now I have faced many such threats, attempts at intimidation and censorship, bans, calls for the cancellation of events

Here’s one such experience from Canada of a bogus accusation of racism: in 2002/2003, the Canadian Council for Refugees banned me from their e-mail listserv of refugee rights activists because my writings, particularly ‘Islam, Political Islam and Women’s Rights in the Middle East‘ were deemed in violation of their anti-racist policy by ‘not maintaining and/or promoting an environment free of discrimination and bias by its wholesale condemnation of Islam and Muslims and not demonstrating an acceptance of the equity of all faiths’.

But for Islamism, a far-right political movement, and its apologists, this is business as usual. Islamism has been wreaking havoc in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere for several decades – with a majority of its victims being ‘Muslims’ or those labelled as such.

Where it has political power, Islamists forgo all niceties reserved for western public opinion about ‘respect’ and ‘not causing offence’ and imprison and murder anyone who speaks their minds and ‘offends’ their norms and sensibilities.

Despite their track record, it is therefore absurd how the fundamental debate on Islam and free expression here in Europe, North America and Australia is framed within a context of offence, racism and Islamophobia. Let me explain. [Read more...]

They will never learn

Multi-culturalism – not as a positive lived experience – but as a social policy is a politics of division. I agree.

It divides people into cultures and puts cultures (the most regressive aspects) before citizens. But in response, Minister Eric Pickles says a return of Christianity in Britain’s public life will bring about the community cohesion that is lacking under multiculturalism.

No it won’t. Especially because not everyone in a ‘majority’ or ‘minority’ group think alike.  In a plural society, with many beliefs and opinions, you need to keep beliefs out in order to bring about any sort of social cohesion.

And as a first step, you need a concept of citizenship that goes beyond people’s beliefs and to some extent keeps their beliefs our of the state and public insititutions. And you need secularism, which is a minimum precondition, for basic rights and freedoms.

But they will never learn…

***

On a positive note, the fight back by those wanting a larger role for Christianity in the public space (as if having an established church and bishops in the house of lords is not enough) is because they are feeling the pressure of secularists. This is a very good thing. The other good thing is that all this talk of a return to Christian values will get secularists speaking out though they may have been silent when it was about Islam’s role in the public space due to bogus accusations of racism and Islamophobia…

So bring it on.