The experience of immigrants in the UK must not be underestimated as anything other than a struggle

 

While immigrants have often experienced difficulties integrating into a new society, in the past few years in the UK they have experienced increasing problems as a direct result of anti-immigration rhetoric from political parties which have then influenced citizens and government.

Even some immigrants who have been in the UK for two decades still struggle to integrate because of linguistic barriers or because they cannot find employment. The language barrier automatically suggests that they are uneducated when, in reality, it just prevents them from being able to properly express themselves. Even when an immigrant’s English is good, they can be held back by their accent which can cause miscommunication.

The children of these immigrants who are born in the UK and defined as ‘second-generation’ immigrants, integrate much more easily, if not always completely, into British society. As a result, there can be a huge generational gap in terms of ideas and culture. They often rely on their children for help with things they cannot understand; potentially making them feel even more like a burden. However, this is one of the main reasons that immigrants have come to the UK, to provide a better life for their children even if they themselves will struggle.

And this is before we even consider the xenophobia. As Kenyan-Somali poet Warsan Shire writes, when an immigrant arrives to their destination country:

And you are greeted on the other side

with

go home blacks, refugees

dirty immigrants, asylum seekers

sucking our country dry of milk,

dark, with their hands out

smell strange, savage –

look what they’ve done to their own countries,’

 

As has been proven, employment opportunities are scarcer because of discrimination based on the colour of your skin or your religion. In recent years as services and resources are becoming more constrained, the first scapegoat becomes the immigrant – migrants have taken the jobs, are taking benefits unnecessarily, are exploiting the NHS. Rhetoric which has been heard too often.

 

As a result, many women do not integrate and there are areas of the UK where divisions and xenophobia are rife. JAN Trust aims to help immigrants who are struggling to integrate with a variety of classes including English and ICT classes. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

Posted in british, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Hate Crime, islamophobia, mental health, Online abuse, Online hate, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , ,

Why Trump’s Discrimination against Muslim American Women is Damaging for the World

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In possibly the most shocking event of the twenty-first century, four-time bankrupted businessman and reality star Donald J. Trump has ridden to power on a wave of populism based on the exploitation of economic and social grievances of parts of the American public.

In only his first month, he has already managed to become the most divisive and controversial president in memory, with the lowest approval rating of any new President.

After a Populist campaigning focusing on the “threat” that foreigners pose to the United States, his victory on November 8th signalled an era of uncertainty for ethnic minorities, especially Muslims. Calls to Naseeha, a Muslim Youth helpline in Canada, soared after the election, with many concerned Muslim American citizens calling worried about the statements that Trump had made and what the future entailed for them.

Trump has made numerous highly worrying statements, such as that there should be a register for Muslims in America, a policy strongly reminiscent of that in in Nazi Germany which represented the first step in barring Jews from certain positions and eventually disenfranchising them completely.

Having stated prior to the election, that the US border should be temporarily closed to all Muslims until terrorism is at a more “manageable” level, one of his first policies was to ban nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries (notably none of the countries in which he has business interests), including US Green Card holders and refugees, from entering the US.

Reactions to his actions and statements have been less than favourable. His “Muslim Ban” was deemed illegal and overturned by the Supreme Court, a ban which he is currently fighting. The Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations has said that “American Muslims are here to stay. We are not going anywhere, and will not be intimidated or marginalised.” In the UK, Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, has said that Trump must “Do everything in his power to unite people and bring divided communities back together”. And in an unprecedented move, the Speaker of the House of Commons stated that Trump would not be allowed to speak in parliament.

Many businesses have openly defied his plans, with Starbucks pledging to hire 10,000 refugees, many people boycotting his hotels and businesses, and even America as a tourist destination and many tech companies, who recruit largely outside of the US, voicing strong opposition and stating they will need to move if his plans are enacted.

At a grassroots level, protests and marches against Trump are on the increase. The women’s marches that took place across America and around the world the day after Trump’s inauguration have been transformed from a one-day event to an activist movment.  There is now a Twitter hashtag #WomensMarchWednesday where people from around the world are able to discuss activism and support each other. In the UK there are a series of protests planned in the lead up to his visit of the UK on the 20 March.

But regardless of whether Trump is able to put these plans into place, the danger he poses goes beyond this. The fact that the world’s most important leader now routinely makes racist, anti-Islamic statements is enough to create serious problems, not just in the United States, but globally.

Since Trump’s stance on refugees, opinion polls show that most Europeans – including 47% of Britons – want a ban on refugees from Muslim-majority counties. And this sentiment has even affected the views of our government, yesterday it was announced that the UK will no longer be taking unaccompanied child refugees from Syria.

Across Europe, the extreme right, which had been growing in recent years, is becoming emboldened by a world leader who effectively legitimises their views. Far-right attacks in the UK and much of continental Europe are on the rise, and the 30 of January saw the extreme culmination of what this racist rhetoric can lead to when Canadian citizen and avid Trump supporter, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire in a Mosque in Quebec killing 6 and injuring 10 more.

While, of course, Trump’s rhetoric cannot be blamed for the actions of an individual, they do create a climate in which people who hold such ideas feel supported and feel that their actions are justified.

The “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” Trump wants cannot happen. As we are seeing, whatever he says affects the views of political leaders and citizens across the globe, an issue which is especially worrying with the current wave of right-wing sentiment sweeping Europe.

The US must not further create division across the world by creating the impression that all Muslims are terrorists or criminals. The US has always been an example of multicultural unity and it would be a shame for other countries to be influenced by the anti-immigration rhetoric in the US at the moment.

However bleak the situation seems, there is a case for optimism. In the wake of his election, millions of people marched for equality and solidarity with all women, rejecting Trump’s hatred and bigotry. Many marched against the election of Donald Trump because they believe that his administration puts into doubt the protection of women’s rights. Most admirably, women across the world for varied rights and in support of those they felt would be most affected by Trump’s presidency – there were around 600 rallies altogether worldwide. There were marches in Nairobi for reproductive rights. There were marches in India against sexual harassment. Many men also marched in solidarity. The image above, of a woman in a hijab decorated in the American flag, exemplifies the message of the protests – how being Muslim and American are not mutually exclusive but that Muslim women are a part of American society and as such should be fully accepted and welcomed.

JAN Trust hopes to allay Muslim women’s fear of xenophobia across the world by providing a safe space for them to integrate within British society. To find out more go to http://jantrust.org/.

Posted in Campaign, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Far right, Hate Crime, hijab, International, International Affairs, islamophobia, Middle East, Muslim, Muslim dress, Muslim women, Politics, Racism, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

On Internet Safety Day – let’s commit to defending our families

It’s Internet Safety Day today and I can’t stress just how important it is for parents to be aware of what their kids are looking at online. All teenagers crave their personal space and so we have to approach this with tact and diplomacy. But there are well-recognised warning signs when your son or daughter is being groomed online by extremists or worse, terrorists.

This isn’t about parents smothering their children with too much attention or feeling excluded from their children’s lives. It’s about the reality of groups like Daesh and Al Qaeda targeting teens with some pretty horrific material. Recent output from these groups in English and other languages has included guides to carrying out bomb attacks, knifings and kidnappings.

Alongside the text are diagrams going into explicit detail of where to plunge the knife or how to send a letter bomb. All of this presented as if committing a terror act was the most natural thing in the world. One can only imagine the impact this could have on an impressionable or highly disturbed mind. In fact, one doesn’t have to imagine it – a string of recent atrocities should have made the risk crystal clear to all of us.

As Daesh faces defeat for its so-called “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq, it’s gone into hyper-drive on social media, urging anybody to carry out brutal attacks in its name. This shows us what’s particularly dangerous about our new digital world – that terror groups can not only spread their message, but also remotely direct and guide individuals to perpetrate murder –  sometimes on a massive scale as we saw in Nice and Orlando.

So how does online radicalisation happen? Recent court trials have evidenced in detail how young people are sucked into social media support networks, where they are given a sense of being and a globalised terrorist identity. They are often contacted via Twitter then drawn into the darker corners of the web, encrypted spaces where conversations are harder to monitor. There is no single route to being radicalised online but there are some very well worn paths.

Frighteningly, we’ve seen teenagers engaged in direct conversations with a charismatic Daesh killer in Syria or Iraq who will give them easy answers to life’s problems. Their young targets are presented with a binary choice between the world of disbelief and that of Daesh with its twisted and corrupt version of Islam. This has proven very seductive to some young men and women because they don’t hear alternative and corrective viewpoints. Instead of turning to parents, teachers and faith leaders for guidance, they listen to their Daesh handler online or the rants of extremist hate preachers on YouTube.

The internet should be about spreading wisdom, but instead it has disseminated fake news and totalitarian ideologies. It has risked polarising young people with the toxic combination of both Far Right and Islamic terrorist material. Both of these forms of extremism relish an end to compromise and reasoned debate. The vicious slanging matches and supremacist insults on social media are their natural form of debate. Neo-fascists and Islamic terrorists are not interested in using the online space to educate and inform, to them it’s about forming battle lines and hardening attitudes. We simply can’t let that happen.

For those of us who still believe in truth and honesty, these can seem like grim times. But this is why Web Guardians© runs such valued sessions, so we can come together to defend those we love from lies and hate-filled violence. In our school playgrounds and university coffee bars, there are people being deceived by online demagogues or watching indescribably brutal executions and slaughter circulated by the Daesh PR machine.

We’ve endured this situation for a long time but also learned how to contain it and push back against the hatemongers. On this Internet Safety Day, let’s commit once more to protecting our families and neighbourhoods from poisonous views. We all cherish free speech and democracy. But we need to recognise those who are using the power of social media to wreck lives and set us against each other.

For more information and to know what you can do – come and attend one of our Web Guardians© sessions.

Sajda Mughal

Jan Trust

 

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Daesh, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Facebook, Far right, google, Iraq, ISIS, Jan Trust, Middle East, Muslim, Muslim women, Online abuse, Online hate, Radicalisaton, Society, Syria, Terrorism, Twitter, Uncategorized, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation

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The term Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), is the procedure in which partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or sex organs are permanently cut. FGM practices are often deep-rooted in a community’s culture and identity, traditional values, and social norms. Within communities that have practiced FGM over multiple generations, the significance of the practice often continues within the elder population as traditionally FGM is thought to be empowering, a celebration, cleansing of a woman and a prerequisite for marriage.

Although FGM is deemed to be a rite of passage and coming of age for young girls and women in certain communities, this practice does not carry any health benefits, in fact often quite the reverse. I can cause sexual health complications, mental illness, infertility and even death. The National Society for Prevention and Cruelty to Children’s (NSPCC) short video shares FGM survivor’s personal accounts, the lifelong negative impacts from the cutting, and ideas going forward to promote the importance of grassroots initiatives, education and awareness rising to combat FGM practices for good.

From a social aspect, FGM is practiced due to gender inequality – it represents society’s control over women. It is estimated that over 200 million girls and women in the world today have gone through FGM, the majority in African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries (source?). Woman Stats Project have developed a world map showing the prevalence of FGM at the global level. UNICEF’s FGM prevalence map shows the ‘percentage of girls and women aged 15 to 49 years who have undergone FGM by country’ in Africa and part of the Middle East. Across Africa, there is a high incidence of girls and women undergoing FGM, Somalia carries the highest prevalence rate of 98 percent, Followed by Guinea with 96 percent, and Djibouti with 93 percent (UNICEF, 2013). However, it is not just a problem in African and Asian nations, n England and Wales it is estimated that 137,000 women and girls are affected by FGM.

The World Health Organisation has released a report ‘Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation’, defines  the practice of FGM as a violation of the basic human rights of gender equality, and the right to life, freedom from torture and cruelty and non-discrimination based on sex.

In order to address FGM in the long term, both top down and bottom up approaches need to take place, combining grassroots and community-led initiatives to create behavioural change and ownership, with education programmes from governments and human rights groups education to empower and break social norms within these communities.

Despite these shocking statistics, in recent years there has been a vastly increased effort at the international level to stop FGM, in particular following the UN General Assembly Resolution Against FGM in 2012Within the new Sustainable Development Goals launched in 2015,  Goal 5 is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The SDG 5.3 aims to “Eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation”. The UN Secretary General has stated that, “sustainable development demands full human rights for all women and girls. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development promises an end to this practice”.

The United Nations declared the 6th February an International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, with this year’s theme being “Building a solid and interactive bridge between Africa and the world to accelerate ending FGM by 2030.” With FGM predominately occurring in African countries, this strategy aims to change behaviour which has been ingrained over generations by educating women so that they feel empowered enough to end the practice.

At JAN Trust we provide workshops, raising awareness and support victims of FGM. Our campaign consists of workshops in schools, colleges, statutory agencies and community groups. In schools, the priority is to help both students and teachers detect cases of FGM, and know how to support victims. We provide training for practitioners including health professionals, social workers and the police in order to raise awareness about the practice, the law surrounding FGM as well as options and help available for victims.

In the last 4 years, we have delivered over 200 school sessions. We have worked with over 20,000 young people and practitioners across the UK and have worked in over 25 boroughs. Visit our website www.jantrust.org or Against FGM website to learn more about the work we do to campaign Against FGM.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Campaign, Education, girls, International, International Affairs, Islam, Jan Trust, Middle East, Muslim women, Uncategorized, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Muslim women are still more likely to be unemployed despite doing well in education

A report by the Social Mobility Commission, the ‘Ethnicity, Gender and Social Mobility’ report, has shown that Asian Muslim women, despite doing well in school, become socially immobile. This is due to many factors, including discrimination they face when looking for employment. The chairman of the commission, Alan Milburn, stated that the promise of social mobility is ‘being broken’.

The statistics are shocking when considering that ethnic minorities are far more likely to pursue higher education than White British children, with five in 10 Bangladeshi children going to university compared to just 1 in 10 white British children. Reports have found that British Muslim women have strong positive attitudes towards work, and that whilst they are more likely than White British women to take time out of employment after having children, they tend to have the overwhelming support of their families in finding work afterwards. The Young Foundation found that 93% of Muslim women who are not in work want to be, and feel supported by their families in looking for it. This disproves tabloid claims that Muslim women are unwilling to travel for work, or work in mixed-gender environments. Only 15% of Muslim women in the study said that they sought work in ‘women-only’ spaces, whilst 93% of British Muslim women stated that they would commute for up to an hour. So why are unemployment rates for British Muslim women still so high?

Bangladeshi and Pakistani women are the lowest earners out of all black and ethnic minority groups, having very little chance to gain professional occupations. When compared to male Bangladeshi graduates, despite performing better in education they are still less likely to gain a professional role. Culture is often cited as the central reason behind Muslim women’s perceived “failure” to integrate fully and economically, into British society.

While it is true that some British Muslim women face pressures from their family or community to stay at home, particularly after having children -early three times as many Muslim women as White British women are economically inactive because they are looking after the home – there are many other barriers that Muslim women face. These include discrimination due to religion and gender, and Muslim women who wear the hijab experience an even higher level of discrimination due to their outward display of religious beliefs

Islamophobia in the workplace has been well-documented. Evidence from France has discovered that practicing Muslims had a 4.7% chance of being called back for an interview, compared to 17.9% for their Catholic counterparts. In the UK, the Runnymede Trust has found that 25% of unemployment in ethnic minority groups can be accounted for by employer discrimination.

Muslim women face additional gendered barriers, and ‘cultural’ arguments seep into this discrimination. 1 in 8 Pakistani women in the UK have been asked about marriage and family aspirations in job interviews, as opposed to only 1 in 30 non-Muslim women, and they may also face evidence of “name discrimination”.  Many women have “whitened” job applications, using non-Muslim names on forms. Some have even chosen to stop wearing the hijab and niqab – 18% of Muslim women in work have stated that this helped them to find employment. If Asian Muslim women who are educated struggle in the labour market, it is even harder for barriers BAMER who don’t have qualifications or have recently migrated to the UK and might have limited English.

The report offered a number of recommendations, including that businesses need to specifically support Asian Muslim women to progress in their careers. This is something that JAN Trust has long recognised to be a priority. At JAN Trust, we provide the education for women to become aware of when they are experiencing discrimination and how to overcome it, with the aim of empowering themselves and be socially mobile in the job market.

JAN Trust empowers women to attain and achieve more, despite the fear of discrimination, through a variety of measures: from workshops that provide information about opening businesses to building confidence and self-esteem. Milburn stated that ‘Britain is a long way from having a level playing field of opportunity for all regardless of gender, ethnicity or background’.

 

Visit our website www.jantrust.org to learn more about the work we do empowering women to play a vital role in British society.

Posted in british, discrimination, Diversity, Education, Ethnic Minorities, girls, hijab, Inclusion, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Muslim, Muslim women, Politics, Racism, Representation, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is terrifying

On Friday 27th January 2017, President Trump signed an executive order which bans the citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries from applying for a visa to enter the United States. The seven countries are: Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. The worldwide reaction to this unprecedented policy has been shock and disbelief. Online, the hashtag #MuslimBan has been trending on Twitter, with celebrities, politicians, and citizens voicing their views.

The policy will last for 90 days only until a more permanent solution is imposed. No refugees can enter the US for 120 days and, most shockingly, Syrian refugees are blocked indefinitely from entering the US. The order also prevents those of dual nationality, whose second nationality is from one of the banned countries, from entering the United States.

Following enactment of the policy, Sally Yates, now former Deputy and Acting Attorney General, was dismissed by Trump for standing up against the immigration ban, as she highlighted the fact that the proposals were in fact illegal under international law which states “Discrimination on nationality alone is forbidden under human rights law.”

As a result, in airports across the US are in chaos with people who have landed and arrived from one of the affected countries detained for hours and airport staff unclear as to what they should actually do. On Saturday, 109 people across America were detained as they arrived in the US. This included a five-year old child arriving from Iran, and a woman from Iraq who had been granted a green card. Although the policy has been partly blocked by law, it will still go ahead. This will cause undue stress to families who are separated and to those hoping for refuge in the US. Due to mixed communication from the US government the order initially even stopped citizens of the United States who had a green card from entering the country and it is still unsure whether the policy applies to green card holders are now allowed to enter the US.

Tens of thousands of people are protesting at airports across the US and worldwide there has been widespread condemnation from prominent figures. Activist Malala Yousafzai has stated that she is “heartbroken” by the law and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has publicly criticised the policy, stating that the policy “flies in the face of the values of freedom and tolerance.”

London saw thousands of protesters voicing their concerns at a demonstration outside 10 Downing Street on Monday. Another protest in the UK is planned on the 18th of March, on UN Anti-Racism Day. If you would like to take part, visit this link. A petition that has already gathered over 1.5 million signatures calling for PM Theresa May to cancel President Trumps planned state visit has been circulated. Even former president Obama, in a move that is highly unusual for an ex-president to do, has spoken out against the measures.

When signing the order, Trump stated that “We don’t want them [radical Islamic terrorists] here.” And in a statement released later, he wrote “To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting, this is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

However, this is stereotyping millions of people. We at JAN Trust condemn such a policy and hope that the will of the people can make President Trump change his mind. Our Prime Minister Teresa May must also make a stand against such a policy that fosters such hatred and islamophobia.

We need Britain to make a stronger stand to show that other nations will not accept turning away refugees and stigmatising Muslims. Many have been sharing statistics which show that an American is far more likely to be shot by another American than killed by Islamic terrorists. It is a racial and religious profiling that stereotypes all Muslims to be potentially dangerous.

This policy is divisive and terrifying. It will lead to more problems rather than less, and has already done so. There has already been a terrorist attack in Canada with the murder of 6 Muslims in a mosque. This is where the irony lies. More American citizens have died at the hands of other American citizens than from a foreign terrorist threat and a policy like will only create further divisions in the US along ethnic lines. The protest on the 18th of March will show that citizens are united against racism and islamophobia.

Posted in Active citizenship, british, Campaigning, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, Hate Crime, hijab, Inclusion, International, International Affairs, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Lobbying, Middle East, Muslim, Politics, Prime Minister, Racism, Society, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Muslim women we need to know in 2017

Lina Khalifeh – SheFighter

The first female self-defence studio, called SheFighter, was set up in the in Jordan back in 2012 but has gained a lot of attention in the last year. The group helps to empower women to protect themselves and has proven to be a huge success. Khalifeh has a background in Taekwondo but began the studio after her friend was attacked by her father and brother.

Why she is an inspiration is that helping women to defend themselves is not just a physical act of self-defence  against violence such as honour-based crimes but also a way to give women a sense of empowerment

The studio does not just teach self-defence but is also a safe space where women can speak freely about their experiences. Khalifeh has received threats for this. President Obama described her as a ‘leader of social change’. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 3 women worldwide have experience physical and sexual violence in their lifetime. Her organisation has trained around 12,000 women. Even Emma Watson took a class at a studio to raise awareness about the initiative. You can learn more about her organisation here.

 

Ilhan Omar – Representative

Ilhan Omar became the first Somali-American legislator in the United States when she was elected to the House of Representatives in Minnesota in the 2016 election. She is also the Director of Policy at the Women Organizing Women Network. Omar was born in Somalia, and left with her family at the age of nine during the Somali civil war, only to spend four years in a refugee camp in Kenya. Once they emigrated to the US, she integrated quickly, learning English in only three months.

Her election garnered worldwide coverage. She stated that her “Victory was for all women who are struggling”. It is all the more inspiring to see an immigrant elected considering the current backdrop of anti-immigrant feeling within the US. In response to the President’s divisive comments on immigrants she has been outspoken, stating that immigrants are what “make America great.”

She makes these comments in defiance, as she herself has experienced Islamophobic attacks whilst in America; the most shocking being in 2014 when she was attacked at a public meeting, leaving her with a concussion and bruises. Most recently she was called ‘ISIS’ and ‘filthy’ whilst in a taxi.

Many are excited to see how she will use her political platform in 2017.

 

Mehreen Baig – Actress

Mehreen Baig was one of the women who joined the BBC’s controversial documentary Muslims Like Us, where ten British Muslims with contrasting views live in a house together. Her views expressed on the programme became very popular, for example she stated that: “When people think of Muslim women, there’s a stereotype of us being repressed and submissive. Someone like me doesn’t come to mind – a normal girl, with a career who watches X Factor and fasts at Ramadan. We are the majority, and unfortunately our voice is unheard. My presence in the show challenges that stereotype. I’m independent and educated, yet my life is very much moulded by my religious values. I’m proof that there can be, and is, a balance between both.” Mehreen’s website is a forum which provides a safe space where Muslim Asian women can share their views on what being Muslim means to them.

 

 

Warsan Shire – Poet

Warsan Shire’s visibility has exploded since being featured on artist Beyoncé’s latest album. She is a Somali-British poet, who won the Young Poet Laureate for London at only twenty-five years old in 2014. She explores many topics in her poetry, from relationships to the place of the migrant within society: the ‘surrealism of everyday immigrant life – one day you are in your country, having fun, drinking mango juice, and the next day you are in the Underground in London and your children are speaking to you in a language you don’t understand’. When her relatives visit, she records their stories so she can accurately portray them within her poetry. She published one collection of poems in 2011, so there is much anticipation for the next collection.

 

Nura Afia – Brand ambassador for CoverGirl

In November, Nura Afia, a Lebanese-American, was chosen to become the brand ambassador for American company CoverGirl. This is a monumental achievement as she is one of the first ever brand ambassadors to wear a hijab. She has a strong social media following. In an interview she stated “A lot of people were intimidated and scared when Trump was elected and the response I saw to the campaign was very positive… everyone is happy that we’re getting represented in a positive way instead of just bad all the time”.

 

The JAN Trust gains inspiration from these women on the public stage who empower themselves through the arts and through politics.

Posted in Active citizenship, Advocacy, Campaigning, Citizenship, discrimination, Diversity, Ethnic Minorities, hijab, Inclusion, International Affairs, Muslim, Muslim women, Uncategorized, women | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Honour-based crimes and why they are incompatible with Islam

Honour-based crimes have come to be associated with Islam. The term ‘honour’ refers to the belief that a daughter or wife has brought shame upon the family and surrounding community by committing an “immoral” behaviour. The  horrific nature of this crime still garners much attention from the media -the latest being the murder of a 16-year old girl in Pakistan by her family members after marrying someone her family did not approve of. Another horrific incident in Pakistan occurred in which a man electrocuted his sister to death for marrying someone of her choice. As a result of increasing awareness of the prevalence of these crimes in Pakistan, law was passed against ‘honour killings’ in October but legislative changes are only half the battle, much more has to be done, especially to change attitudes.

In the UK honour killings are particularly shocking, with up to 12 occurring every year. One such case was that of Banaz Mahmod in 2006, who was murdered by her father and uncle for leaving her arranged marriage and beginning a relationship with another man.

As Honour killings largely occur in Muslim countries or within Muslim communtiies this has been misinterpreted to mean that Islam condones such actions. However, n the Quran it states:

Whoever kills a believer intentionally, their reward will be Hell, to abide therein forever, and the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon them, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for them.” (4:93).

Clearly it is a misconception that Islam condones honour killings. In Islam the murder of women is not condoned under any circumstance.

In the UK many women are scared to report such instances and when they are reported there is an extremely low rate of prosecution. From 2011 to 2016 there were 7,048 reports made to police of honour-based crimes and just 3% of these actually resulted in charges. This is due to a lack of appropriate support for women in these situations. In fact, in the UK there is no specific legislation against honour-based crime, it can fall under murder, rape and other charges, which arguably fails to recognise the specific nuances of this crime and difficulties that women may face in coming forward or bringing charges.

These crimes are abhorrent and should be recognised in society as a clear abuse of human rights. In order to do this attitudes need to change. The JAN Trust provides training on Honour Based Violence (HBV). If you are interesting in attending or arranging training please contact the trust on info@jantrust.org. Honour-based crimes can also be linked to forced marriages, our website Against Forced Marriages offers support for vulnerable women.

Posted in british, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, forced marriage, Forced Marriages, girls, Hate Crime, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Violence Against Women, women | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Real Housewives of ISIS – why the sketch creates a dangerous perception of Muslim women

The BBC has come under fire for one of its programmes, Revolting, airing a sketch called ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’. The programme, which depicts four women who have left the UK to join ISIS, was first published online on BBC3 on 5 January. In the show, the four women, in hijabs, interact and joke about the gifting of suicide vests by their husbands. The two-minute clip has been controversial, with many viewing it as satire while others view it as mocking the plight of women under ISIS.

The sketch portrays Muslim women as having manipulated views of Islam, in which violence, not peace, is the answer. And it creates further division as the women seem to be British citizens and used to live in Britain, implying that Muslim women must all have intolerant views and are not willing to integrate into society. The name of the sketch, ‘Real Housewives of ISIS’ further trivialises the issue, comparing life in Syria and Iraq to popular reality shows.  Some say that the sketch criticises the women who have voluntarily chosen to leave the UK and join ISIS. However, what is not recognised is the plight of women and those who are groomed online to join ISIS and that we must be sympathetic in understanding why these women have decided to join in the first place and try to understand what has been offered to them to convince them to join.

Furthermore, there is the overlooked aspect that many women have been forced against their will to join ISIS, many are emotionally and physically abused, and traded as sex slaves. One of the creators of the programme, Jolyon Rubinstein, stated that the target of the satire was ISIS and that it aims to make viewers aware of the servitude of Muslim women to ISIS: “The target is online grooming, it’s about people who are vulnerable to these kind of approaches.” However, it seems that the aim of the sketch has been lost as it just comes across as offensive to those who have lost family members as a consequence of the strength of online extremist communities.

The fact that the sketch is part of a BBC programme is even more shocking considering that the BBC is funded by the taxpayer and the government, and that it should, in theory, remain balanced. This sketch has created further division and bigotry within British society as some may find it difficult to differentiate between Islamic extremists and moderate Muslims.

At JAN Trust, we aim to help mothers who fear for their children’s safety online with our Web Guardians© project. The project helps mothers to prevent and prevent online radicalisation of their children. Many families have been destroyed by ISIS, the women and men who have joined are victims of a very sophisticated online network that uses lies.. JAN Trust is helping in the struggle against homegrown radicalisation, which is being set back with sketches such as these which further isolates and marginalises Muslim women within British society.

If you are interested in finding out more about Web Guardians© go to http://webguardians.org/.

Posted in Daesh, Ethnic Minorities, Extremism, hijab, ISIS, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Jihadi Brides, Middle East, Muslim, Muslim women, radicalisation, Syria, Terrorism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

JAN Trust’s View on the Integration Report

The Integration Report, released on Thursday by the Integration All Party Parliamentary Group, was based on previous findings of the controversial Casey Review which highlighted worrying levels of segregation in British society.

Alongside its findings, the report includes twelve recommendations on how to improve integration in British society. The first recommendation emphasises integration though education at the community level – supporting  the emancipation of women,  providing them with better employment opportunities and  creating space for socialising opportunities –and  is based on  precisely what JAN Trust has long recognised and has been working towards since 1989, with little government funding. The recommendations were in fact based on a visit Dame Louise Casey took to our centre in 2015; the conclusions she has come to were influenced by talking to us and meeting our beneficiaries and hearing about their experiences and needs.

The need for greater provision of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) lessons as a means of promoting integration and inclusion is particularly highlighted. That speaking the language of a country is a key part of being able to properly integrate, find employment and feel part of the society in which you are in is not a shocking concept, of course.

What is shocking, though, is that the UK budget for ESOL classes has been consistently cut in recent years. The government pledge in January last year to provide £22million for ESOL classes came just months after funding had actually been cut by £45 million. Overall ESOL funding has been slashed by almost 50% since 2009.

At JAN Trust our provision of ESOL classes to vulnerable and marginalised women is based on our   understanding that many women face a combination of barriers, including lack of English, which can create a vicious cycle of low self-confidence, isolation and poor awareness of the options open to them, all of which not only prevent them from being able to integrate and contribute to society but also leave them open to harmful cultural practises such as FGM or domestic violence. We have worked tirelessly with women at the community level to challenge this vicious cycle and promote integration since our inception.

Over the past three decades, we have helped thousands of women to not only improve their English, but to regain their confidence and improve their job prospects, through skills classes. Women such as Sarla, originally from India, who said: “Before, I had no confidence to speak and write English but now I write and I’m using the computer as well. My daughter has bought me a small computer now.” Or Jurgita, originally from Lithuania, who took one of our tailoring courses and now says: “I would like to do something more with these new skills I have gained – maybe open my own business or get a job.”

Our classes not only enable women on a personal level to further their careers and gain skills. They also support social inclusion in a supportive atmosphere and sense of empowerment that can even help women to prevent domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM and radicalisation, all of which are among the government’s top priorities.

Our Web Guardians© course, pioneered in 2010, provides a further help for mothers, with education in using the internet, understanding online dangers, including radicalisation, and gives them the ability to protect their children. It is the only course of its kind in the UK.

Just some of the feedback we have received from our Web Guardian© programme is:

“I found this course excellent and it should be given to all mothers.”

“There’s no other programme like this.”

“You have really made me aware of the internet and its dangers.”

While long overdue, we hope the findings and recommendations from this report show that the government is finally ready to take steps that allow everyone to integrate and contribute to our society, and we hope that as a vital resource in this process, JAN Trust will be will be one of the recipients of the funding to enable us to continue our increasingly important work in local communities. We have decades of expertise in this area and, ultimately, make a real difference to the society that we all live in.

If you are interested in finding out more about the services we offer, visit http://jantrust.org/projects

Posted in Active citizenship, Education, Ethnic Minorities, Forced Marriages, Inclusion, Islam, islamophobia, Jan Trust, Radicalisaton, Representation, Society, Violence Against Women, Web Guardians | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,