Social Responsibility

Commission on Islam, participation and public life

Wed, 30 Mar 2016 13:40:00 BST

The University hosted an important commission on Islam, participation and public life in February. Organised by Fr Tim Byron and Br Mohammed Ullah, the Catholic and Muslim chaplains at the University, it was the third such hearing, after London and Cardiff.

The Commission was chaired by Dominic Grieve MP, the former attorney general and twelve commissioners attended including Jenny Watson who is the chair of the Electoral Commission and a former Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The day began with a private hearing on policing and counter-terrorism legislation, with Sir Peter Fahy and David Anderson QC giving evidence. This was highly valued by the commissioners, the quality of the evidence left some of them expressing a desire to have had longer to ask questions. In the afternoon there were three public hearings with some of the topics under scrutiny at the including Islamophobia; the role of faith in public life; and religious education in interfaith community cohesion. Among those giving evidence were Nazir Afzal, (Former Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England) who had overseen the prosecutions in the Rochdale Grooming Scandal, Ivan Lewis MP (Labour Bury South), and Tony Lloyd (Interim Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner) and Bishop John Arnold. However it was a Muslim student, Safa Mir, who electrified the commissioners with her accounts of frustration in applying to law firms.

Claire Alexander, Professor of Sociology was also invited to share her research and academics are still invited to submit evidence and can do so via the Citizens UK website. Other commissioners present came from a variety of backgrounds from within the Muslim community and also the armed forces. Sir Nick Parker who was present had been the Commander of British Land Forces until 2012 including being Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Citizens UK – the community organising coalition that delivered the living wage, are hoping to set up a Manchester ‘Chapter’ – to produce a coalition of civil society institutions in time for the mayoral elections next year. If you would like more information contact Fr Tim at the Catholic Chaplaincy

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