In March 2017, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that employers could ban staff from wearing religious and political symbols. This ruling highlights how fears of religious radicalisation and threats to religious freedom are common across Europe. The ruling also raises questions about discrimination against Muslim women in particular.
The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice will engage with issues of radicalisation and religious freedom in a panel that I am organising as part of its Spring Festival of Conflict Transformation.
(Full details about the Festival will be available soon.)
The discussion on ‘Radicalisation and Freedom of Religion on Campus and in the Community,’ will take place on Wed 26 April, 12-1.30 pm in the Old Staff Common Room (Lanyon building), with halal lunch from 12 noon, and discussion to start at 12.30 sharp.
Panellists will explore factors that contribute to radicalisation, as well as how people experience limitations on religious freedom, from local to transnational levels. It will consider the UK’s ‘Prevent’ strategy and key issues related to radicalisation and religious freedom in Northern Ireland.
Dr Michael Wardlow, Chief Commissioner for the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, will set the scene by identifying key issues related to radicalisation and religious freedom in Northern Ireland, encompassing all religions.
Dr Zaheer Kazmi, Senior Research Fellow at the Senator George J Mitchell Institute, will provide perspective on the wider UK context with an analysis of the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy. (You can read Kazmi’s recent analysis of ‘The Roots of Trump’s “Travel Ban”’ in Prospect magazine).
Dr Kristin Aune, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations, Coventry University, will present new research on the role of universities in monitoring religious fundamentalism and freedom of speech on campus, drawing on her new co-edited book, Religion and Higher Education in Europe and North America (Routledge, 2017).
Finally, two Queen’s students will provide perspectives on what it’s like to be a Muslim on campus in Queen’s and in the wider Northern Ireland community. They are Mrs Thelfa Ahmad, a student in Electrical Engineering at Queen’s University who has been living in Belfast for twenty years since leaving Iraq; and Mr Moustafa Faheem, President of the Queen’s University Islamic Society. He is a Computer Science student, originally from Egypt, who has been living in Northern Ireland for eight years.
I am chairing the panel, and intend for there to be plenty of time for discussion and feedback from the audience. We’d love for you to come along and share your perspectives.