Roundtable discussion between practitioners and academics

Preparations for this pack began with a roundtable discussion. The participants were all involved in youth work with young Muslims and were drawn from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands and the UK. Discussion was introduced and focused by three prominent commentators on Muslim affairs in Europe: Emel Abidin-Algan, formerly chair of the Islamic Women's Association, Berlin; Tariq Modood, professor of sociology at the University of Bristol; and Tariq Ramadan, visiting fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, and formerly holder of professorships at the University of Freiburg, Switzerland and Erasmus University, Rotterdam.

Comments made at the roundtable about Muslim responsibilities are shown below:

Victim mentality
‘The victimization mentality amongst Muslims needs to be addressed and combated.’
‘Young Muslim people have higher levels of political participation than young non-Muslims. Activities include voting, organizing themselves, attending debates, protests and demonstrations, and approaching local MPs with concerns and opinions.’
Us and them
‘Discourse within the Muslim community that disrespects fellow citizens needs to be tackled. Muslims must not perpetuate a dualistic perspective that sees a Muslim “us” and a non-Muslim “them”.’
Social contracts
'According to Islam, one must respect the social contracts of the structured political and social community one belongs to.’
Margins and mainstream
‘It is not just a matter of whether Muslims are participating in the political arena but how they are participating and in which areas. There seems to be more Muslim engagement with international rather than domestic issues. If Muslims want to be citizens in the mainstream, rather than on the cultural and religious margins, this discrepancy has to be addressed.’
Critical loyalty
‘To be loyal to a structure does not mean being uncritical of it. An atmosphere of critical loyalty to both domestic and international social and political structures needs to be promoted.’
Responsibility to non-Muslims
‘Muslims have a social responsibility towards non-Muslims. As citizens, Muslims should ask themselves: what do I, as a Muslim, have to offer to non-Muslim citizens in Europe?’
Basic social problems
‘Muslim organizations in Europe need to engage more with basic social problems such as poverty, domestic violence and the low levels of education amongst Muslim women. Many Islamic organizations fail to make use of their position and power to promote an engagement with these issues.’
Mutual respect
‘An attitude of mutual respect needs to be promoted. “Treat humans with respect and love for they are either Muslims and your siblings in faith or non-Muslims and your siblings in creation.”’ (Imam Ali)
Historical contexts
‘There needs to be a better understanding of the historical contexts of Islam. These contexts are often omitted from teaching within Muslim schools and mosques. This has led to a situation in which Muslims are dependent on scholars. It does not encourage individual reflection and is therefore not conducive to promoting active citizenship.’

There is a fuller summary of the roundtable in Appendix A.

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