Imran Awan

Imran Awan

Imran Awan, Senior Lecturer in Criminology

Since the introduction of counter-terrorism legislation and policies after 9/11, there has been a significant debate about what impact such measures have had upon local communities and Muslim families, who in particular feel victimised and increasingly are being viewed as ‘suspects’. My research provides a unique contribution towards understanding the impact of counter-terrorism measures upon Muslim communities. My research has been looking at issues of identity, belonging, security and the governance of Muslim communities. Indeed, events such as 9/11, 7/7 and now Woolwich has led to an increase need in examining these issues and looking at how civil liberties are balanced alongside national security issues.

The research I have conducted has started an important debate with regards counter-terrorism led measures, which, I strongly argue should focus on building trust with local communities. Furthermore, my work addresses a number of new set of emerging questions about Islamophobia, hate crime and the Internet. This element of my work considers what is the best way to tackle online hate and virtual Islamophobia.

My objectives have been helping develop a concept of community cohesion through ways of engaging with Muslim communities and exploring how best to work with local communities in the sensitive area of terrorism. This work represents, my expression of interest over a period of 10 years, which has been shaped by an experience of counter-terrorism policies and strategies and my own personal interactions.

As such, my research hopes to help improve community cohesion strategies, inform policy methods and challenge the negative stereotypes of British Muslim communities. This passion and drive to contribute to helping engage with a ‘hard to reach’ group has also been recognised nationally, when I was made an Ambassador for the ‘Make Justice Work’ campaign. I have also presented oral and written submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia and am a member of the Advisory Committee for the Government Funded Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks Project organised by Faith Matters, a non-profit organisation which hopes to show the scale of the problem of Islamophobia.

My work has found a real need for having a better understanding of how to tackle the common negative attitudes and stereotypes of Muslim communities and working towards establishing stronger relationships of trust between communities and law enforcement agencies. What has followed since, from my work includes an invitation to take part in the Equality and Human Rights Commission Report in 2011 to discuss and evaluate the impact of counter-terrorism legislation upon Muslim communities and also attending a private research seminar at the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism in London to discuss these matters with key policy makers.

The overall purpose of my research is to explore the experiences of Muslim families who have been affected by counter-terrorism policies. With the current anti-Muslim climate regarding these issues, my work intends to produce research that helps shed light on the securitisation and governance of British Muslim communities. The aim and outcomes of the research is therefore to increase public awareness of such issues and to help increase community cohesion by identifying ways and methods in providing support for families. Through my community, and voluntary work with local Muslim Imams, teachers, community organisations, youth clubs, local teenagers and Muslim families who have been affected by counter-terrorism legislation, policies and policing my work provides a unique opportunity to gain an invaluable insight into the issues that are affecting the Muslim community.

In summary, my work has found real issues and challenges with the official narrative around Muslim communities and creates the space for a new debate to happen in this area by using methods of engagement with Muslim communities that help us understand victims better. Finally, my research has had an impact both at a policy and grass roots level where my work has been used to inform better policy related issues and for grass roots level based work in helping Muslim communities. I am currently the Deputy Director of Centre for Applied Criminology and am currently acting as a lead investigator in conducting a study that examines the impact of counter-terrorism legislation upon Muslim families in Birmingham. I hope in the future to conduct further research in this area with a specific interest in looking at online Islamophobia.

Birmingham City University is taking part in Universities Week 2014 – (Monday 9 – Friday 13 June) – A UK-wide campaign highlighting the value and importance of university research to our everyday lives. Join in on the conversation on Twitter using #uniweek.

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