Lewisham Islamic Centre

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Lewisham Islamic Centre's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Lewisham Islamic Centre is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.lewishamislamiccentre.com

BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
38 | THE COALFIELDS REGENERATION TRUST
Creating effective programmes
that tackle these challenges
I joined the trust 20 years ago, and
since that time our approach has
evolved to respond to changing needs.
We are more focused and deliver
activities that address our strategic
themes of employment, skills, health
and wellbeing and respond directly to
the evidenced needs.
With only 40 staff this is a challenge,
but through their dedication we
continue to provide access to grant
funding and practical support
for voluntary and community
organisations and facilitate the
production of community action plans.
Alongside this, we work to engage
young people in health and skills
activities through football and provide
individualised support and coaching to
individuals out of work to help them
into a job or to gain a qualification.
Finally,westriveto develop and
safeguard community assets and
deliver area-based initiatives, working
with local stakeholders, which bring
together a range of our activities.
Turning opportunity into
outcomes
In response to austerity and the
cessation of funding from the
government in England, we developed
a new business model, although we
do still receive direct grant support
from both the Scottish and Welsh
governments. To generate income,
we invested in property but never
sacrificed our principles to support and
invest in the coalfields.
We now build in our communities,
creating new industrial space for SMEs
and bringing jobs and opportunities.
The income that is achieved is invested
in activities that make a difference. We
welcome the funding announcements
for our towns, but we want to create
a dedicated £40 million investment
fund for the coalfields to enable us
to move more quickly to address
theproblems.
Over the next five years, this would
enable us to build 400,000 square
feet of new industrial space, creating
over 1,000 jobs for our communities
and a sustainable income to grow our
social impact work. For every £1 we
invest in our community programmes,
we can deliver a minimum of £10 in
socialvalue.
Our call to action
We have the evidence base, we have
the track record, we have partners and
support and we have ambitious but
deliverable plans. All we need is direct
funding from government, for which
there is precedent, to help us scale up
our impact and create a positive legacy
for generations to come.
43 per cent of
our
communities
sat in the top
30 per cent
most deprived
communities
in Britain
CRT 2019 Home
Internationals Tournament
39LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE |
COMMUNITY
Chair of Trustees Taofik Akande
Imam Shakeel Begg
addressing audience in the
Lewisham Civic Suite
The Lewisham Islamic Centre aims to provide all those in
the local south London area with a range of services,
regardless of their personal religious beliefs. For Chair
of Trustees Taofik Akande, the centre’s working purpose is
“to promote peace, tolerance, justice and compassion” and
to ensure that its “caravan of peace and justice marches
on”. In this article, Taofik discusses the success of the centre,
while also giving his opinion on PREVENT and other areas of
government policy.
A success story
The Lewisham Islamic Centre is a popular multicultural mosque, with a congregation
from a wide range of backgrounds.We are based in Lewisham, an ethnically diverse
local authority – two out of every five residents are from a black and minority ethnic
background.Many of our worshippers are converts or reverts to Islam, reflecting the
make-up of the local community. Our board of trustees is also diverse and consists
of professionals, including from the financial and legalsectors.
Our primary aim is to meet the needs of the local and diverse Muslim community,
while at the same time ensuring that our services are open to all, irrespective of
religious belief or lack thereof. We provide religious guidance to the community,
support and assist the congregation on spiritual matters, teach the Qur’an and
authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), hold marriage
ceremonies and counselling sessions, and provide general guidance and advice on
community matters.
FACTS ABOUT
LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE
»Chair of Trustees: Taofik
Akande
»Founded in 1982
»Located in London
»Services: Mosque
»No. of employees: 40 plus
Lewisham Islamic Centre
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE
We also strive to provide non-Muslims
with the opportunity to learn and
understand Islam through dialogue,
interaction, exhibitions and open
days. We promote initiatives such as
the annual Lewisham Peace Walk and
have conducted gang mediation and
confrontedyouth and knife crime
in an effort to make the borough a
safer place for all. We also take part in
annual interfaith sporting competitions
and have maintained a longstanding
monthly “Feed the Homeless” project
in and around central London.
Challenges facing Muslim
communities and organisations
In recent times, representations of
Islam and Muslims in some influential
local, national and international media
have become a topic of considerable
debate and discussion.
We believe that some of the images
and discourses relating to Islam and
Muslims in mainstream Western media
tend to be negative. Muslims, Muslim
organisations and institutions including
mosques have been scapegoated and
subject to defamatory attacks from the
media and we have been no exception.
As a leading community mosque, we
appear to be facing a sustained attack
from: controversial government policies
such as PREVENT, which we believe
institutionalises Islamophobia; negative
media stereotypes of Muslims; and
far right activity manifested through
abuse, harassment and physical attacks
on innocent people.
It is a matter of deep sadness that the
Muslim community continues to be seen
through the lens of counterterrorism
and extremism measures, with a raft
of legislation introduced in the last ten
to 15 years having a disproportionate
and discriminatory impact on the
Muslim community. We have found
that the government’s flagship PREVENT
policy continues to be criticised by
many, including the National Union of
Teachers, who in March 2016 backed
a motion calling for PREVENT to
bescrapped.
The UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai
also criticised the UK government’s
PREVENT strategy in April 2016, saying
it could result in promoting extremism
rather than reducing it. It was finally
announced on January 22, 2019
that the government’s controversial
Meeting for Muslim
women on Islamophobia
and hate crime with
the police and elected
representatives
Our primary
aim is to meet
the needs of
the local and
diverse Muslim
community,
while at the
same time
ensuring that
our services
are open to
all, irrespective
of religious
belief or lack
thereof
BEST PRACTICE SPONSOR 2020
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
40 | LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE
We also strive to provide non-Muslims
with the opportunity to learn and
understand Islam through dialogue,
interaction, exhibitions and open
days. We promote initiatives such as
the annual Lewisham Peace Walk and
have conducted gang mediation and
confrontedyouth and knife crime
in an effort to make the borough a
safer place for all. We also take part in
annual interfaith sporting competitions
and have maintained a longstanding
monthly “Feed the Homeless” project
in and around central London.
Challenges facing Muslim
communities and organisations
In recent times, representations of
Islam and Muslims in some influential
local, national and international media
have become a topic of considerable
debate and discussion.
We believe that some of the images
and discourses relating to Islam and
Muslims in mainstream Western media
tend to be negative. Muslims, Muslim
organisations and institutions including
mosques have been scapegoated and
subject to defamatory attacks from the
media and we have been no exception.
As a leading community mosque, we
appear to be facing a sustained attack
from: controversial government policies
such as PREVENT, which we believe
institutionalises Islamophobia; negative
media stereotypes of Muslims; and
far right activity manifested through
abuse, harassment and physical attacks
on innocent people.
It is a matter of deep sadness that the
Muslim community continues to be seen
through the lens of counterterrorism
and extremism measures, with a raft
of legislation introduced in the last ten
to 15 years having a disproportionate
and discriminatory impact on the
Muslim community. We have found
that the government’s flagship PREVENT
policy continues to be criticised by
many, including the National Union of
Teachers, who in March 2016 backed
a motion calling for PREVENT to
bescrapped.
The UN special rapporteur Maina Kiai
also criticised the UK government’s
PREVENT strategy in April 2016, saying
it could result in promoting extremism
rather than reducing it. It was finally
announced on January 22, 2019
that the government’s controversial
Meeting for Muslim
women on Islamophobia
and hate crime with
the police and elected
representatives
Our primary
aim is to meet
the needs of
the local and
diverse Muslim
community,
while at the
same time
ensuring that
our services
are open to
all, irrespective
of religious
belief or lack
thereof
41LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE |
COMMUNITY
antiradicalisation PREVENT strategy
was to be independently reviewed
after ministers gave in to longstanding
pressure to address concerns over its
impact oncommunities.
Robust responses from the
Our experiences have been that the
Muslim community is often expected
to speak about peace and tolerance.
We do exactly this, while calling for
justice and accountability and by so
doing, continue to provide a strong
and independent response to the
attacks facing the Muslim community.
We continue to work with the local
authority, local community groups,
faith organisations and trade unions to
actively campaign against hate, racism,
Islamophobia and xenophobia.We
actively campaign against the PREVENT
policy both locally and nationally to
highlight its disproportionate impact
on the Muslim community.
We will continue to challenge
defamatory, non-factual or downright
manufactured allegations concerning
the Lewisham Islamic Centre or
Islamic teaching be it through our
press releases, or through successful
legal challenges and complaints.
This includes the Independent Press
Standards Organisation, which has
resulted in a number of offending
articles being removed.
Providing strong, independent
and robust responses to the above
challenges has caused the Lewisham
Islamic Centre some difficulties from
those who appear to have a particular
agenda against and consider Muslims
as a fifth column in society. However,
we continue to face down these divisive
voices through actualising the guidance
of Islam and the immortal statements
of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be
upon him) that: “the best of you are
those with the best characteristics...
the best to his neighbours... the most
beneficial to society”. We are proud to
be Muslim leaders willing and able to
discuss contemporary and sometimes
very challenging issues so that the
British Muslim community, especially its
youth, living in an increasingly hostile
and Islamophobic environment are
empowered and confident to live as
Muslims in Britain and contribute fully
as equal citizens without compromising
their faith and values.
We work actively to promote peace,
tolerance, justice and compassion in
our community and beyond and this is
evident from the excellent relations we
have built with the wider non-Muslim
community in and around Lewisham.
We have established and forged
close links with the local authority
and elected representatives of the
borough. These established links have
proved invaluable in building strong
and lasting friendships. In conclusion,
despite the challenging times, our
caravan of peace and justice marches
on, Inshallah (God willing)… wa
salaamu alaykum (Peace to you all).
Our experiences
have been that
the Muslim
community is
often expected
to speak about
peace and
tolerance
Stand Up To Racism
event outside the
Lewisham Islamic Centre

www.lewishamislamiccentre.com

This article was sponsored by Lewisham Islamic Centre. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss.

Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss

Even by the standards of the day –this has been one of the most exciting and unpredictable years in British politics.

The leadership election we’ve just seen marks a huge moment in our country’s history. This government is taking a decisive new direction, embracing the opportunities of Brexit and preparing our country to flourish outside the EU.

As international trade secretary, I’ll be driving forward work on the free trade agreements that are going to be a priority for the government. Free trade isn’t just an abstract concept bandied around by technocrats. It is crucial for a strong economy and for the ability of families to make ends meet. Free trade benefits people in every part of our country, as British firms export to new markets and people doing the weekly shop have access to a wider choice of goods at lower prices.

The essence of free trade is in the title: freedom. It’s about giving people the power to exchange their goods without heavy government taxation or interference. Commerce and free exchange are the engine room of prosperity and social mobility. I’m determined to tackle the forces who want to hold that back.

One of my priorities is agreeing an exciting new free trade deal with the US, building on the great relationship between our two countries and the Prime Minister and US President. But I’ll also be talking to other partners including New Zealand, Australia and fast-growing Asian markets.

And with the EU too, we want a friendly and constructive relationship, as constitutional equals, and as friends and partners in facing the challenges that lie ahead – a relationship based on a deep free trade agreement. Our country produces some of the world’s most successful exports, and the opportunity to bring these to the rest of the world should make us all excited about the future. It is this excitement, optimism and ambition which I believe will come to define this government.

For too long now, we have been told Britain isn’t big or important enough to survive outside the EU – that we have to accept a deal that reflects our reduced circumstances. I say that’s rubbish. With the right policies in place, we can be the most competitive, free-thinking, prosperous nation on Earth exporting to the world and leading in new developments like AI. To do that, we’ll give the brilliant next generation of entrepreneurs the tools they need to succeed. Since 2015, there has been a staggering 85 per cent rise in the number of businesses set up by 18 to 24 year olds – twice the level set up by the same age group in France and Germany. We’ll help them flourish by championing enterprise, cutting taxes and making regulation flexible and responsive to their needs.

As we do that, we’ll level up and unite all parts of the UK with great transport links, fibre broadband in every home and proper school funding, so everyone shares in our country’s success.

2019 has been the year of brewing economic and political revolution. 2020 will be the year when a revitalised Conservative government turbo charges the economy, boosts prospects for people across the country, and catapults Britain back to the forefront of the world stage.



Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss
Secretary of State for International Development