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Speaking at the Mehfil Ali of Harrow recently, Professor Maleiha Malik, one of UK’s leading academic lawyers, noted how sections of the  British media seemed  out of touch with what was happening in communities. She contrasted the crude, stereotypical presentation of British Muslims by Islamophobe journalists with the accomodation and negotiation actually happening on the ground, leading to better understanding. The Mehfil is an excellent example of this in its interactions with local churches (an up and coming programme includes a talk by the Methodist leader John Swarbick).  Professor Tariq Modood, the eminent sociologist based at the University of Bristol, makes a similar point but in a different context: of the disconnect between theories of secularism presenting the state as neutral on matters of religion and what happens in practice. With reference to Britain’s ‘moderate secularism’ and its links with the Church of England, he notes in a recent paper:

“Whilst some aspects of this relationship are symbolic, it is evident that it goes beyond the symbolic. On the other hand, there is no pretending that the Church has a lot of power within the state and hence I think it may be characterised as a form of ‘weak establishment’; and my argument is that such an arrangement is consistent with political secularism.”

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