National Women’s Conference: Challenging Fears and Building Bridges between Communities
London, UK, December 16th – Hundreds of women from across the UK attended a conference in Central London this Saturday (December 16th) to address the fears and myths currently surrounding Islam and the Muslim community in Britain and to delineate a path to improved community cohesion. The event was organised by the women's chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain. Panellists included Sultana Pervin, a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir; Victoria Brittain, the renowned writer, political activist and current council member of the Institute for Race Relations; Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, the women's media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain; and Hodan Pankhurst, the wife of Reza Pankhurst, formerly incarcerated as a prisoner of conscience in Egypt.
The event highlighted how the disastrous war in Iraq and British foreign policy across the Muslim world including the support of brutal dictators had caused the alienation of many Muslims in Britain. It also discussed how headline-grabbing statements by opportunistic politicians playing "politics with fear" had fuelled an anti-Muslim frenzy within the society.
A convert to Islam and member of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain related her work in building bridges between communities and repairing the damage in community relations caused by government policies.
A Muslim community worker and member of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain highlighted her work amongst the British public in addressing the age-old myths regarding Islam and the oppression of women. She emphasized that differences in values and laws between Islam and secular liberalism should not be equated with oppression and she stressed the need for a modern debate on the true oppression facing all women globally regardless of creed.
A student and political activist described her engagement with non-Muslim colleagues and friends at university in dispelling the fears regarding political Islam and the Caliphate. She discussed how supporting the right of other nations to resist occupation and define their own political future free from foreign interference should not be labeled as extremism. She also highlighted the true nature of the Caliphate state comprised where there will be accountable governance, an elected leader, transparent justice, rule of law and coveted rights for women and minorities. She emphasized that differences in governance between the Caliphate and parliamentary democracy should not lead to it being labeled a dictatorship by default – that civilizations should not be measured by one yardstick – a Western secular model.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, the women's media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, "This conference has illustrated that Muslim women in the UK take the subject of community cohesion seriously. When will the government do similarly and acknowledge the affects of its war on Iraq, its interference in the politics of the Muslim world, its domestic anti-terror policies and its populist anti-Muslim remarks in fuelling community tensions?"
"The path to improved community cohesion is not via the isolation of the Muslim community through the demonisation of its institutions and values but rather through greater dialogue between communities to dispel the myths surrounding Islam and Muslims. This is the challenge to our community. Also, cooperation upon common issues such as racism, drug addiction, violence against women, poverty and speaking out against unjust government policies – both domestic and foreign – could further aid understanding within and between communities. "