Not In Our Name

Report on the Not In Our Name Conference (25th of February 2010)

This event was the key flagship event on the range of outreach events that Faith Matters held in 2009/2010 under the Not In Our Name Project. The event was held at the Royal Chace Hotel and was attended by staff from statutory agencies like Enfield Council and by community and voluntary sector bodies like ECEN (Enfield Community Enterprise Network). There were also numerous attendees from community groups, an elected member, faith leaders and students. The event also received strong participation from the local police and with Superintendent Dave Osborne who started the day’s proceedings.

The key aim the day was built on supporting cohesion through a faith based perspective and the day had evolved through discussions that were undertaken between Enfield Council and key staff from Faith Matters.

Attendance of Participants
There were 76 attendees on the day with more than 60% of the participants being female. The audience was mainly made up of Muslim community members which also fit the key target group for the conference. Participants from Turkish speaking, Somali, Bangladeshi, African Caribbean, Greek Cypriot and African communities turned up and as was made clear on the day, the conference was an opportunity for them to raise issues and to have the space in which things could be raised and discussed.

A separate chart listing the ethnicities of participants is also enclosed within this report.

Agenda and Speakers
All of the speakers turned up though apologies on the day were given by Azhar Ali and Nick Lowles. There were also robust discussions through the panel forums and some of the key issues that were raised included:

  • Why extremism is not a part of the three faiths and the support that should be provided to vulnerable individuals within society,
  • Why anti-extremist programmes are targeted at Muslim communities and maybe widening programmes to include other forms of extremism,
  • Community engagement and the need for further investment in programmes that allow people of different faiths to come together,
  • The need to make faith based discussions relevant to young people and especially so within a modern context,
  • The need for further exploration of faith narratives and especially around debunking myths on Islam,
  • Roles of women and young people in developing cohesion and more importantly on finding ways of challenging those who promote division within society,
  • Exploring some of the difficult texts within the three faiths and finding out the contexts in which they were found.

Areas of Potential Conflict
The targeting of Muslim communities by the Far Right was mentioned within discussions as was the potential impact from a downturn in the economy. The latter, it was suggested, was fuelling race and faith hate activity and whilst Enfield has a reasonably cohesive set of communities, it was important that communities and the local authority did not become complacent.
Some of the activities of individuals like Omar Bakri Mohammed were also mentioned within the conference and that there had been an impact in areas like Edmonton, though imams had consistently intervened to try to work with young people who had been affected by his politicized views. In fact, Imam Hasan Ali raised this point and stated that work on protecting young vulnerable people had been taking place for many years though people within the community did not want to promote and publicise their work.
Equally of concern was the need for all faiths within Enfield to develop a stronger network so that faith leaders could bring in other voices to support work on community cohesion and Prevent within the Borough.

Future Possible Work Programmes
These included:

  • Better and more joined up work on community cohesion activities. There was still work being undertaken in ‘silos.’
  • Utilising faith leaders in a more focussed way on the support that they could provide on an ongoing basis to community cohesion and Prevent.
  • Getter better clarity on the difference between cohesion and Prevent; (some participants still believed that they were two sides of the same coin / theme).
  • Getting church groups, mosques and synagogues to work together on key social justice themes. This was seen as a good practical method of developing cohesion.
  • Adapting the language of Prevent so that it is more inclusive. Further work on this, it was felt, was needed and to anchor it locally.