Abdoolkarim Vakil studied his BA in History and Economics at York University before becoming a Lecturer in Portuguese Studies, University of Leeds. From there he went on to become a Lecturer in Contemporary Portuguese History, and Head of Department in the Department of Portuguese & Brazilian Studies at King’s College London. Abdoolkarim has recently also become a Lecturer in the Department of History at King’s College London.
His publications include the landmark Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives [joint editor with Salman Sayyid] Hurst, 2011 https://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/thinking-through-islamophobia/
He was ‘in conversation’ with Professor Sayyid in 2021 reflecting on the tenth anniversary of Thinking Through Islamophobia: Global Perspectives, and the current opposition to advancing a public understanding of Islamophobia as a type of racism that targets Muslimness. click here.
Abdoolkarim Vakil served as chair of the Muslim Council of Britain’s Research & Documentation Committee 2010 – 2014. He established the ‘Soundings’ section on the MCB website to collate informed comment on social policy debates.
A. Soundings – Beyond Race and Multiculturalism? Responses to Prospect magazine’s Rethinking Race dossier. Click here…
B. Extract from ‘British Values and the British Muslims’, published in Open Democracy, June 2014
…The fact is, Muslims are disproportionately the object of news coverage, and inversely proportionally able to inform and shape the public conversation. We are the most talked about, and least heard.
We are, arguably, disproportionately the object of public policy, of academic research, and of surveillance, overwhelmingly framed in securitarian terms; yet the least positioned to influence, determine, contribute, and implement the policy cycle.
The figure of the Muslim is everywhere from fact to fiction, from page, to screen, from cartoon to viral screed; yet we are least able to shape the collective creative imagination.
Whatever else comes of this affair, we are, yet again, left with serious questions about our capacity to be the narrators of our own stories. Questions about our ability, in the absence of think tanks, spin doctors, PR companies, and professional media experts, not merely to speak, but to be heard, are more urgent than ever. The media is an industry, the public sphere is structured; our ability to engage and influence it needs to be invested in and addressed accordingly. But we do have a Vision. We know what we want.
We want More equality, not exceptionalism or special treatment;
We want More democracy in our institutions and public life, not less;
We want More critical citizenship, transparency and accountability, not less;
We want More active civic involvement and participation, not disengagement;
We want More social inclusion, not seclusion;
We want More diverse and plural recognition and representation, not a token voice.
We want to be a part of the common conversation about the common good, not apart from it.
We want to be stakeholders in the decisions which affect our lives in our neighbourhoods, in our communities, in our NHS, in our Trade Unions, in our Schools, in our constituencies, in our government, in Britain, in Europe.
Once again, we find ourselves the object of targeted intervention from on highest to do more to integrate and to adopt British Values. So let us be clear:
We don’t just accept integration; we don’t just want Integration, we demand it. But integration as socio-economic inclusion and the effective capabilities to flourish and contribute to wider society which require concerted action and political will across society, not an onus on Muslims; integration as the real, material enabling of the conditions of possibility for meaningful welfare and dignity for all.
We are diverse as a community and in our needs, but not because we are defined by ethnicity and country of origin; but because our community of communities straddles citizens, and migrants, and refugees, and asylum seekers; successful professionals and the underclass; rich and poor with gaping disparities – with all the challenges that come with such differences of need and opportunity. Pockets in our communities experience disproportionate educational underachievement, youth unemployment, ill health among the elderly, overcrowded family housing. Integration through civic participation is about real empowerment and cultural literacy, not about cultural assimilation and language. Integration through economic participation is about opportunity and structured, targeted support where it is most needed.
Real integration is about educational opportunities and the practical life skills to successfully navigate bureaucracy, work, and public life; to know one’s rights and entitlements as much as one’s duties and commitments. In a word, real integration is about real enfranchisement.
This is what the Schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse investigation were achieving. This is what a narrow securitarian culture of suspicion and political paranoia is wreaking.
In this sense, I do believe we are at a defining moment where the future of this country is being decided, but it is not in our classrooms and our streets; it is in our Cabinet, in our Parliament, in our Department for Education and in our Home Office.
Whether a generation of parent governors and parental aspirations and involvement in their schools and communities is to be undone; whether a generation of inspirational teachers and school children will be judged not by their outstanding educational effort and achievements but by their Prevent certification, this is what is at stake.
To the Prime Minister and to Mr Gove, we say this: we have no objection to British Values, on the contrary. When he was asked what he thought of Western Civilization Gandhi reputedly quipped that it would be a very good idea; we might say much the same about British Values. British history, abroad and at home, has not lived up to these values, any more than that of any other nation has. If we live in a more tolerant, more just, freer, more equal society in Britain today, it is in part because of the hardships, the mobilisations, and the struggles of ethnic and religious minorities, including within working class, youth and women’s movements, to overcome racism, xenophobia, injustice and discrimination, and make the standards our law upholds today, our common standards and ideals as a plural, diverse society.
For essay click here… https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/british-values-and-british-muslims/