#JE SUIS CHARLIE #JE SUIS BATHILY – ASSESSING WEST YORKSHIRE COMMUNITY RESPONSES TO THE PARIS KILLINGS

The recent Paris terrorist attacks have been presented as an attack on Western liberal values of free speech and expression.

The British government’s reaction to these killings, and Prime Minister David Cameron’s presence at the Paris Unity March, as well as his failure to acknowledge the terrorist killings of Muslim in Peshawar and Nigeria have left the region’s Muslims feeling unsupported despite their public condemnation of the recent events. The letter by Eric Pickles to 1000 mosque leaders calling for Islam to align itself with British values and the image of Theresa May holding up a #JeSuisJuif placard in support of the Jewish community without a commensurate demonstration of support for British Muslims also brings about questions, confusion and apprehension.

Picture1In response to these regional anxieties about the impact of these killings on local communities, JUST West Yorkshire – supported by Sharing Voices and the Bradford Muslim Women’s Forum- has organised an event to create a safe space for local communities to share their concerns and suggest constructive solutions in response to the Charlie Hebdo affair.

The event will be taking place on Thursday 22nd January from 6-8pm at Sharing Voices: Clifton Villas, Bradford, BD8 7BY.

The organisers wish to frame the debate in an inclusive way by juxtaposing the #JeSuisCharlie and #JeSuisBathily hashtags. Lassana Bathily was a Muslim employee who risked his life by leading customers to safety during the terrorist siege in the kosher supermarket.

The event will also be addressing the following points: whether freedom of speech and Islam are incompatible; how government and local leaders can work proactively to challenge the negative stereotyping of Muslims; how Muslim communities can play a greater role in countering extremism and terrorism regionally; and how communities and civil society can collaborate to stop Islamaphobia.

The panelists for the event are: Alyas Karmani – Chair of JUST West Yorkshire, Gordon Clubb – Lecturer in International Security, University of Leeds, Fatima Patel – Editor of Asian Sunday, Ali Alhakeem – student at Bradford University. The event is chaired by Ratna Lachman, Director of JUST West Yorkshire.

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