Counterterrorism and Muslims in Britain: What’s the problem? What’s the solution?

Thinking Futures Festival Event – Get your tickets here.

For over a decade and a half the world has witnessed a dramatic rise in a distinctive kind of violent militancy. Much about it is controversial, including how it should be understood, described and addressed. There is even little, if any consensus, about how it should be labelled. Terms currently employed include: ‘violent jihadism’, ‘jihadi terrorism’, ‘violent Islamism’, ‘violent Islamic extremism’, ‘Islamist terrorism’, to mention but a few.

But two characteristics cannot be denied: it is violent and Islam is invoked as the justification by those who resort to it. However, the precise nature of this relationship is hotly disputed. Some claim that the connection is purely contingent and has no real significance because, while Islamic terminology is employed, the motives and goals of those involved have, in fact, little or nothing to do with Islam. By contrast, others maintain that it is nothing less than the logical extension of Islam given current conditions and recent developments. Of the many positions in between is the view that the conception of Islam invoked is an utterly debased and distorted misunderstanding of the faith, totally at variance with its true, best or better interpretations.

Panellists will debate these and related issues from their very different perspectives at the ESRC’s Festival of Social Sciences ‘Thinking Futures Event’, Counterterrorism and Muslims in Britain: What’s the problem? What’s the solution?, at the University of Bristol on Friday, 13 November 2015, 18.00-19.30. Free admission by ticket.

Among the questions which will be considered are: What is the nature of the challenge posed globally and nationally by the violent militancy under discussion? How do, and how should, the UK’s counterterrorist laws impact upon Muslims? How, if at all, should the UK seek to prevent volunteers or would-be brides travelling to join the wars in Iraq and Syria, volunteers returning to the UK having fought, or supported fighters, in these conflicts, ‘radicalisation’ and ‘de-radicalisation’, state surveillance, and the criminalisation of the expression of ‘radical’, though not expressly violent, interpretations of Islam? To what extent do Muslims and others contribute to the current problem and/or are actively engaged in tackling it? To what extent do and should, Muslims and others work with the state to address the problem, or should they actively resist such collaboration? Should counterterrorism be linked to, or separated from, official initiatives to foster social cohesion and integration? Should any particular approach to the current problem in Britain be supported more fully by government and society generally?

To join this highly topical discussion get your ticket now: