Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life

Chris Allen recently spent two days with the Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life when it visited Birmingham.

Chaired by Dominic Grieve QC MP, the Commission has brought together 20 Commissioners from a wide cross section of British society to consider how Britain’s Muslim communities could better engage and participate in public life. To do so, it has been touring the UK in recent months having held public hearings in a number of towns and cities to hear evidence from Muslim communities and others.

Chris facilitated a roundtable discussion on campus for the Commissioners and invited representatives from within Birmingham’s Muslim communities. The discussion focused on the challenges facing a growing Muslim population in the city in relation to education, housing and employment. The discussions also touched upon a number of key issues including the Trojan Horse allegations, the now defunct Project Champion and the issue of radicalisation. IRIS’s Arshad Isakjee and Social Policy’s Ozlem Young also participated. After a visit to one of the schools named in the Trojan Horse allegations – Rockwood Academy (formerly Park View) – the Commissioners returned to the campus for a dinner with Vice Chancellor David Eastwood.

On Saturday, Chris presented oral evidence at the Commission’s public hearing at the Council House in Birmingham city centre. Focusing on the issue of Islamophobia, Chris drew upon his research from the past decade or so to explain how the experience of becoming a victim of an Islamophobic hate crime for instance can have detrimental impacts on the way in which they – and indeed their families, friends and communities – feel able to participate in ordinary, public life. Speaking for 15 minutes, he then fielded questions from the Commissioners for a further 45 minutes. As well as Chris’s evidence, IRIS’s Arshad Isakjee also presented oral evidence as did former Birmingham city councillor, Salma Yaqub.

Listen to Chris’s oral evidence here 

Chris also submitted three pieces of written evidence to the Commission – on Birmingham, Islamophobia and Muslims women, and the media – all of which are available to download here.