Birmingham is one of the world’s most multicultural cities. But in the wake of global terror attacks, has life become more difficult for people in the city? Are incidences of hate crime on the rise? And how is the relationship between our faith communities and the police?

Birmingham City University is hosting a national debate on integration in conjunction with the Department for Communities and Local Government.

It’s a chance for the local population to engage with academics and policymakers on the issues at the heart of daily life in Birmingham. What is the role of faith in our schools? How can we promote tolerance and respect in the city? What part can local media play in strengthening the message?

Counter-terrorism and Islamophobia expert Imran Awan will chair discussions on tackling race hate and building stronger communities.

Speakers at the Integration Roadshow include Communities Minister Lord Ahmad and David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham. Representatives from the Muslim Women’s Network will also be attending.

The event will encourage a frank and open exchange with the local community.

Integration roadshows have been held across the country, attended by diverse audiences including community and faith leaders, university students, academics and members of local police forces.

The Birmingham event will examine:

  • policing and hate crime
  • faith in schools
  • diversity and faith
  • the role of the media

Imran Awan is a Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Birmingham City University. He regularly speaks on Islamophobia and works with non-profit organisation Faith Matters to promote the scale of the problem and provide support for victims.

Mr Awan said: “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.”

He recently spoke in the wake of the Trojan Horse schools inquiry: “At present Muslim communities in Birmingham feel vilified and that they are being unfairly labelled as extremists. To me the most significant outcome of this whole affair is the damage caused to community cohesion and diversity, which was one of Birmingham’s key strengths.”

He also frequently cites the central tenets of Islam when addressing community relations and the impact of anti-Muslim hatred: “Islam is a religion which promotes social justice and order, community cohesion, freedom, equality, morality, and mutual understanding and respect. Indeed, the word “Islam” means “submission” or “surrender”, and derives from the Arabic root term “Salaama”, which means “peace and safety”.

Mr Awan has provided independent expert advice to the Cross-Government Working Group on Anti-Muslim Hatred based in the Department for Communities & Local Government.

The Integration Roadshow takes place on Tuesday 3 March at Birmingham City University’s City North Campus between 10am-1pm.

To register your interest please email press@bcu.ac.uk.

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Rumandeep Gill

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