Professor Akbar S. Ahmed presents
Preliminary Findings from the Journey into Europe project
SOAS, University of London
Wednesday 20 August 2014
On 20 August 2014, Professor Akbar S. Ahmed presented some preliminary findings from his team’s summer of fieldwork across Europe, exploring the situation of Muslims across the continent and their relationship with surrounding communities. Stressing the importance of historical understanding, the Professor emphasised the need to consider indigenous Muslims in Europe – alongside converts and what are known as diaspora communities – in order to get a sense of the complexity and longevity of the Muslim presence: a continuum often denied by those wishing to depict Islam as a latter day intrusion into Europe. His talk was illustrated by powerful and at times moving clips from the footage shot by the team, including testimonies from Muslim women in Granada, from worshippers at the east London Mosque in Tower Hamlets, and from relatives of the Muslim dead of Srebrenica who continue to cherish the memory of their loved ones, slaughtered in the Bosnian war of the 1990s, whose memories they cherish and whose graves they lovingly tend.
Place: Universal Peace Federation London
On Sunday, the 18th of May MTCD organised a special arts evening in collaboration with UPF and Rumis Cave. The event’s aim was to feature British Muslims’ involvements in creative arts as part of Prof Akbar Ahmed’s Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration and Empire . It is a relevant sphere that especially young individuals use to share their stories, concerns and wishes. We started the evening by inviting Prof Peter Morey to talk about MTCD’s support of Journey into Europe, followed by Prof Ahmed Akbar’s introduction into his new research project. Journey into Europe intends to give a deeper insight into Muslim life in Europe and to contribute to a better understanding about Muslims in Europe. During the second part of the event we had various arts performances by young British Muslims including poets, rappers, comedians and singers. A mixture of emotions, thoughts and themes, such as love, hope, spirituality, stereotypes and injustice was communicated throughout the different performances.
Last night, May 14, the Journey into Europe project which had brought us to London, our first stop, was launched successfully at the House of Lords in a standing room only event with Lord Bhikhu Parekh chairing and hosting the discussion. In attendance were prominent figures including two additional lords, senior representatives from the Pakistani High Commission, Dr. Richard Stone, one of the most important Jewish leaders and pioneers of interfaith dialogue in
Britain and a philanthropist, Malise Ruthven, the well known author of books on Islam, the noted scholar John Hutchinson of the LSE, Mohsin Akhtar, owner of the Heydon Grange Golf course who had come down from Cambridge, Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain, and Dr Jafer Qureshi of Muslim Aid, UK. Additionally, a large contingent from the Bradford Muslim community had especially come down for the event in anticipation of our visit to Bradford next week. It was also an interfaith gathering, with prominent members of the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Hindu faiths represented.
Muslims, Trust and Cultural Dialogue is delighted to be collaborating with the renowned scholar and diplomat Professor Akbar S. Ahmed and his team from the American University in his new project, Journey into Europe. In May we will be working with Professor Ahmed on the British leg of this journey which aims to examine current relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims in the context of increased suspicion and mutual misunderstanding. In addition to interviews and participant observation, the work will yield a book and a filmed documentary.