• Addressing religious discrimination and Islamophobia: Muslims and liberal democracies, the case of the United Kingdom

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (2011-12-06)
      The article examines contemporary claims of Islamophobia and religious discrimination against Muslims in the United Kingdom in the context of the broader dynamics of religious discrimination in British history. How the ‘struggle for existence’ of religious groups who were initially concerned with ‘establishing an identity of their own’ became ‘ the struggle for equality’ among both nonconformist religious minority groups in the nineteenth century as well as among twentieth century Muslim UK citizens of predominantly migrant and minority ethnic origin is examined. The identification of ‘Islamophobia’ as a specific form of discrimination and hatred of ‘the other’ is located in the rise of a late twentieth century ‘politics of identity’ as it emerges from the impact of ‘globalization’. The relationship between the distinctive features of the Muslim experience of discrimination on the basis of religion and that of other groups is explored by reference to the findings of the UK Government Home Office commissioned Religious Discrimination in England and Wales Research Project conducted during 1999–2001, as well as by reference to Orientalist and Islamophobic imagery. This article considers strategies for combating religious discrimination and hatred, from public education through to legal instruments, such as the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Employment Equality (Religion of Belief) Regulations 2003. The visceral and deeply embedded nature of ‘Islamophobia’ is illuminated by reference to the deep-seated and multi-layered admixture of religion and politics in Northern Irish ‘sectarianism’. The article concludes by advocating that it is the responsibility of all groups, of good governance in society, and in the ultimate interests of all, to tackle the phenomenon of religious discrimination and hatred under whatever guise it appears.
    • Balancing within three dimensions.

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (2017)
      Arising out of UK empirical research into religion, belief and discrimination, this paper argues that the three dimensional approach taken by the project to understanding and applying its findings is potentially applicable also in the wider European context. Arguably such an approach will enable a theological and social policy connection with respect to the Christian, secular, and religiously plural context of interreligious and wider social relations. In contrast to such an approach, a call for Christianity to retain a privileged central position within such social policy milieu does not adequately take account of the realities of a growing religious plurality as well as increasingly non-religious or otherwise secular dimensions of today's world. At the same time, strident campaigns for secular measures to be given priority do not take sufficient account of the substantial numbers of those who continue to identify with a religion in varied ways, or the relatively highly valued significance of religion found especially among cultural minorities. Further, any attempt to try to equalize the various religious traditions will run into the clearly different historical and social position of Christianity within Europe; while any of the apparently seductive options for the religions to form a united front, either apart from or over and against the secular, would likely result in damage to the theological and social health of all the religions. In contrast to these approaches, I argue that in both theology and social policy, a balancing of the Christian, secular and religiously plural dimensions is capable of facilitating the kind of evolutionary development that can mediate constructively between the importance of historical inheritance and the need for adaptive and creative change within interreligious and wider social relations.
    • Brexit: A colonial boomerang in a populist world

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby; Coventry University; Regent's Park College, Oxford University (2019)
      This article argues that there are important connections between what is happening in Brexit and matters with which people in the Two Thirds World have long experience. It posits that a serious understanding of the roots of the Brexit crisis requires an analytical engagement with the cross-currents that swirl between the UK's global imperial and colonial inheritance and some of the key trends and issues arising from the highly varied, ambiguous, but also irresistible contemporary forces of globalisation resulting from what the British historian Arnold Toynbee called “the annihilation of distance”. ‘Brexit’ has shaken up political configurations and complacency about what English politicians for too long have tended to refer to in an unconsciously culturally and politically assimilationist way as “the nation” when, as a matter of both historical fact and contemporary reality, the present UK state is a specific configuration of nations within a single state that was created as part of an overall “internal” trajectory of a colonial and imperial enterprise that was rolled out into the wider world. If this analysis is accepted then it is not surprising that issues relating both to Scotland and to Northern Ireland have been playing a very big role in the present Brexit crisis. The published article is an abridged form of an unpublished longer paper on "Roots, Routes, and Times of Decision: Brexit, Populisms, Colonialism and Imperialism in Global Perspective", which is downloadable open access from https://pure.coventry.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/23840319/Roots_Routes_and_Times_of_Decision_long_form_article.pdf. Finally, the article argues that it is likely that those of us who live and work in the UK will need to call in aid against our temptation to despair, the analytical, spiritual and practical resources that sisters and brothers from the ‘Two Thirds world’ have developed over several centuries of understanding the destructive phenomena of colonialism and imperialism, and in identifying some possible ways to overcome them.
    • Changing socio-religious realities: Practical negotiation of transitions in the governance of religion or belief, state and society

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Peeters, 2020-12)
      This article argues for the importance of developing forms of governance with regard to the relationship between religion or belief, state and society in Europe so as to better reflect and “reality-match” the contemporary socio-religious realities characteristic of a continuing Christian inheritance along with an increasing secularity and growth in religious plurality, than do current patterns that usually embody privilege for a particular Christian Church or Churches largely derived from Christendom models. Having noted that recognising a need for change, deciding on a direction for change, and actually implementing change are three different things, the article draws on a social contextualist approach to the application of negotiation theory in relation to organizational change as developed by Charles Samuelson and David Messick (1995) in order to illuminate factors that can either hinder and / or facilitate such developments.
    • Christian-Muslim and Muslim-Christian dialogue initiatives, movements and organisation

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Routledge, 2017-08-14)
      Since the emergence of Islam as a religion with global presence, dialogue between Christians and Muslims can be found in the common history of the relationships between these religions along, of course, with other modalities ranging from tolerance and parallelism through to pressure and violence. The focus of this chapter is not so much on the more general shape of Christian–Muslim relations as found in and between the historical societies informed by these religious traditions or on the theologically interpretive or sociologically descriptive and analytical aspects of these relations which other chapters in this book discuss. Rather, it highlights contemporary examples of specific collective forms for this relationship as manifested particularly in terms of ‘intentional’ movements, organisations and initiatives as both constituted by and concerned with dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Reference is also made to some initiatives, organisations and movements that encompass Christian–Muslim dialogue within a broader set of relationships – and especially those that involve Muslims, Christians and Jews. Space constraints dictate that what is described and discussed is necessarily selective but hopefully be illustrative in grounding the chapter’s analysis and evaluative discussion in examples from across a number of contexts.
    • The clash of civilisations thesis and religious responses

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Fatih University, 2010-12-25)
      The article describes key aspects of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” thesis. It acknowledges the way in which that thesis has picked up on some key changes in relation to the role of religion in public life and, especially, in international relations. But it also critiques the thesis for its “essentializing” and “bloc” approach to cultures and societies, arguing that such an approach does not take sufficient account of the differences and sometimes fault-lines and conflicts within societies and cultural groups. For what might characterise appropriate religiously informed responses to Huntington’s thesis, the article proposes an approach based on four “keynotes” of “modesty”, “integrity”, “realism” and “distinctiveness”.
    • Classroom challenges for teaching about and addressing anti-semitism in the OSCE region

      Weller, Paul; Foster, I; University of Derby (University of Derby, 2019-05)
      This report, produced by Professor P. Weller and Dr. I. Foster of the University of Derby, United Kingdom, is based on two phases of research conducted in six OSCE participating States—Belgium, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Poland and the United States of America—between December 2016 and May 2018. The research took various forms, including focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, observations, as well as desk research based on published literature. A detailed bibliography of works consulted is provided in an appendix to the report. The report provides background information about the history of anti-Semitism in each of the countries studied, along with recent statistics concerning reported anti-Semitic incidents in each country. The report does not compare how significant an issue anti-Semitism is in these participating States; rather, it presents an overall pattern of evidence to identify a range of key challenges with at least some relevance for teaching about and addressing anti-Semitism in classroom contexts across the OSCE region as a whole, and thus provides the basis for recommendations that could inform the development of teacher resources to meet those challenges in any OSCE participating State, not just the ones studied for this report. The research has made clear that, while the incidence, frequency and forms of anti-Semitism may vary over time, it remains a reality in OSCE participating States. However, there is relatively little published research on anti-Semitism among young people as such, and even less that is specifically focused on teaching about anti-Semitism and/or addressing it in classroom contexts. Therefore, the primary research that informs this report makes a clear contribution to understanding anti-Semitism as it currently exists in a number of OSCE countries, albeit subject to certain limitations in terms of methodology, which are noted in the report’s appendices.
    • Controversies as a lens on change

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby; Weller, P., and Winter., N. (2012). ‘Controversies as a lens on change’ [Podcast]. 16 February. Available at: http://www.religionandsociety.org.uk/publications/podcasts/show/paul_weller_controversies_as_a_lens_on_change. (AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Research Programme Podcasts, 2012-02-16)
      “Controversies as a lens on change” is the title of the opening chapter of Religion and Change in Modern Britain (published Feb 2012 by Routledge). In this podcast Norman Winter is in conversation with one of the joint authors of this chapter, Paul Weller. Professor Weller has worked in the field of inter-faith and multi-faith studies at the University of Derby for over 20 years. He is Principal Investigator on Religion and Society project Religion and Belief, Discrimination and Equality in England and Wales: Theory, Policy and Practice (2000-2010). The co-writer of this chapter was Malory Nye, the Principal of the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education in Dundee. In this chapter the authors view highly-publicised arguments and conflicts as markers of underlying trends, revealing the changing concerns about religion which have engaged the public from the Second World War to the present. Paul Weller talks about the changing nature of the media which has also contributed to how those conflicts and concerns have been portrayed, especially with the advent of new media which have brought new immediacy and interactivity. The chapter moves forward in time. In the early part of the period the Christian Church and its legacy were still dominant, and arguments often revolved around deviation from that tradition, for instance in the 1963 publication of “Honest to God”, or expressions of anxiety about cults and new religious movements. Debate and dispute regarding other major world faiths gradually gained prominence. In the 1970s, local residents in Hertfordsire opposed the establishment of a Hindu place of worship at Bhaktivedanta Manor. Then in 1989, some time after its original publication, Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” sparked highly-publicised outrage among Muslims, with TV images of book-burning. This was fuelled further when the supreme leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, pronounced Rushdie to be an apostate, and a bounty was put upon his death. More recent controversies have revealed further conflicts between rights and freedoms, both within faiths and between religion and society as a whole. There have been public arguments about Islamic dress and Islamist teaching. The play “Behzti” (2004) and the BBC2 screening of “Jerry Springer the Opera” (2005) provoked strong movements of opposition. New legal protections and rights, for instance in services offered to gay couples, prompted conservative Christian opposition. The chapter also describes the political and media discussion of the “failure of multiculturalism”.
    • Critical dialogues: Dialogue and conflict resolution - special issue

      Mustafa, Demir; Dunn, Deborah; Keyes, Simon; Ramsbotham, Oliver; Shener, Oemer; Weller, Paul; Coventry University; University of Derby; Regent's Park College, Oxford University (The Dialogue Society, 2019)
      This special issue addresses dialogue as a means of conflict resolution under the title of ‘Critical Dialogues: Dialogue and Conflict Resolution.’ As a tool of conflict resolution, dialogue can take on many different shapes and can be moulded to respond to each conflict. In some cases, it becomes a tent that gives shelter to both sides, creating an environment of peace and security; in some other cases, it becomes a ship that saves the parties from the results of the conflict. In all these shapes and forms, dialogue constructs an aura facilitating parties to settle their incompatible differences. The special issue contains 15 papers critically addressing the role of dialogue/s in resolution of different types/forms of conflicts, from military to inner (psychological and psychosocial) conflicts of individuals. It highlights four themes related to the concept of dialogue which are: 1. Intercultural Dialogue and Conflict; 2. Dialogue, Conflict Resolution and Peacebuilding; 3. Dialogue, Conflict and Education; and 4. Dialogue and Conflict in a Changing World. The aim of the collection is that papers and the critical application of relevant theories will help to provide new and useful insights for theorists and practitioners of Conflict Resolution and contribute to peace building efforts.
    • Dialogue theories II.

      Sener, Omer; Sleap, Frances; Weller, Paul; Sener, Omer; Sleap, Frances; Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Dialogue Society, 2016)
      This edited volume introduces the work of fifteen different individual and insightful thinkers with significant contributions to make to thought on dialogue. They come from diverse fields ranging from philosophy to family therapy and from sociology to music. Distinguished authors from a range of professional backgrounds in academia and dialogue practice present thinkers whose works they know intimately. In the contexts of intractable conflict, bitter political polarisation and complex economic and ecological crises, 'dialogue' is often raised as an alternative or as (part of) a solution. The thinkers introduced here delve deeply into what dialogue is and what it might be capable of. This book is intended to inform and inspire anyone with an interest in the meaning and value of dialogue, whether that interest is academic, professional or personal. No knowledge is assumed and authors have sought to adopt a readable style. Each chapter presents a short biography of a thinker and the core of his or her ideas, relates those ideas to the practices of dialogue and suggests further reading and questions for reflection. This is a book which seeks not only to contribute to academic reflection but also to give practical dialogue ideas and to start further conversations. The book is a companion volume to the Dialogue Theories book published in 2013, which presented ten other thinkers.
    • The emerging inter-faith context In society and religious education.

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Mohr Siebeck, 2016)
      The chapter explores the emerging inter-faith context in England, including the explicit inter-faith initiatives associated with this context, as both of these have interfaced with the development of school-based Religious Education since 1970. It does this through an overview of the changing religion and belief landscape of England as this gave birth to the emergence of early inter-faith initiatives and what might be called a new inter-faith “imaginary". It then traces the impact of a diverse religion and belief England on the development of Religious Education discussing how far via the engagement of schools, universities and communities there has been an interaction or parallelism of development between inter-faith context, inter-faith initiatives and Religious Education. It then outlines and discusses how more inclusive approaches to Religious Education have been resourced, including in relation to national inter-faith initiatives leading into debate about the relationship within Religious Education between religion and belief, the secular and a broadening understanding of “world religions”. Finally, the present and future of Religious Education in England is critically explored in relation to how it is situated within what might be called a "three dimensional” social and religious interface between Christianity, secularity and increasing religious plurality.
    • The Gülen Movement in the United Kingdom.

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Peter Lang AG, 2015)
    • Gülen on dialogue

      Sleap, Frances; Shener, Oemer; Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Centre for Hizmet Studies, 2014-05)
      This booklet is about the thought and practice espoused and practised by Fethullah Gülen and the Hizmet movement. Fethullah Gülen is one of the most important Muslim scholars of our time for whom dialogue is not just about overcoming problems of our globalising world but is necessitated by our very humanity and his Islamic faith. Therefore, dialogue is an ever present and underlying theme for Gülen in addition to being a particular area of thought and practice that he seeks to promote and develop. What is significant about Gülen, however, is that he is not just a scholar and thinker but also a doer who has inspired millions to think and act alongside him in what has now emerged as a civil society movement known as the Hizmet movement. As pointed out by editor Paul Weller, "Gülen does not teach a “liberal” or “modernist” version of Islam. Rather, his teaching offers a robust renewal of Islam that is engaged with the contemporary world. It is rooted in a deep knowledge of authentically Islamic sources." The fact that Gülen bases his ideas and thought (and by extension, the movement its practice) on authentically Islamic sources is significant at a number of levels – not least because it demonstrates how Muslims can engage and respond to modern ideas, culture and society while remaining true to their identity. This booklet provides a short biography of Gülen’s life in relation to his dialogue efforts and then goes on to study the main features and characteristics of his dialogue thought such as: love, tolerance, empathetic acceptance, positive action, and humility. It then explores how Gülen’s notion of dialogue, dialogically developed and practised by the Hizmet movement, is now being put into practice in different parts of the world. The section on practice concludes with a list of the twelve ‘dialogue principles’ developed by UK registered charity the Dialogue Society from Gülen’s teachings and the Hizmet movement’s practice.
    • How religion or belief frame participation and access in UK higher education

      Weller, Paul; Hooley, Tristram; University of Oxford (Taylor and Francis, 2016)
    • Identity, politics, and the future(s) of religion in the UK: the case of the religion questions in the 2001 decennial census

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Taylor and Francis, 2004-01)
      With the publication of the results of the United Kingdom's decennial Census questions on religion it is important to situate this data within the wider social and religious contexts that led to the inclusion of these questions in the Census. This includes engagement with some of the issues likely to affect both the data itself and the uses to which it might be put. The varied forms of the questions on religion as asked in different parts of the UK are outlined within the context of a discussion of the scholarly taxonomy of religions. The questions are also explored in the light of the interplay between the varied categories of religions and the official ‘recognition’ implied by their use within the Census. Finally, the place of religious statistics within the ‘politics of identity’ as well as their potential contribution to the development of a communalist ‘identity politics’ are critically explored.
    • Introduction: How and why should we study dialogue?’

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Dialogue Society, 2016)
      This chapter (pp. 17-28) introduces the volume edited by Omer Sener, Frances Sleap, and Paul Weller (2016), Dialogue Theories II, The Dialogue Society, London. [ISBN 978-0-9934258-0-6]. In doing so it puts the book in a wider context of the previous volume on Dialogue Theories published (2013) by the Dialogue Society, as well as of the Journal of Dialogue Studies of which the author is academic editor. It discusses a range of key questions and "working definitions" about the nature of dialogue and critically evaluates a range of differing articulations of the aims and objectives of dialogue itself, and in relation to the study of it.
    • Islam in Turkey as shaped by the state, its founder and its history: Insight through Baptist eyes and three key Muslim figures.

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Baptist World Alliance, 2015)
      This book chapter originated in a presentation made to the Muslim-Christian Relations Commission at the 2014 Baptist World Alliance Gathering in Izmir, Turkey. Turkey is the modern day country which covers the geography of what was known as Asia Minor and which the early Christian Church had a strong presence, but where the contemporary Christian (and even more so the Baptist Christian) minority is very small. The chapter seeks to provide some insight into and explore key aspects of Turkish history and society by reference to the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) as well as to three significant Turkish Muslim figures who have contributed to the religious inheritance of Turkey and beyond – namely Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī; Said Nursi (1877-1960); and Muhammad Fethullah Gülen (1941-). The chapter highlights some aspects of Baptist Christian tradition that the chapter argues resonates with aspects of this Turkish inheritance in ways that might be of constructive help to contemporary (especially Baptist and Christian) understandings of Turkey, of Muslims of Turkish heritage, and of Muslims and Islam more generally. In doing so it explores some historical Baptist Christian perspectives on Turkish Muslims; discusses the question of whether “Anatolian Islam” has a distinctive "flavour"; traces the historical development from the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire diversity to modern nationalism in Turkey; explores the cleavages and fractures of Left and Right, and issues of human rights in modern Turkish history, including the country's history of military coups. Finally it particularly discusses Fethullah Gulen's thought and actions in support of dialogue and against “Islamism” in a way that the chapter argues is resonance with a “Baptistic” vision of Christianity.
    • Learning from experience, leading to engagement: lessons from belieforama for a Europe of religion and belief diversity

      Weller, Paul; University of Derby (Peeters, 2017)
      This paper takes as its starting point a description and analysis of a concrete training programme and community of practice (Belieforama-http://www. belieforama.eu) that seeks to address and embody a focus on lived experience and narratives, while going on to identify some lessons that might be drawn from this. Belieforama includes a generic training that addresses Religious Diversity and Anti-Discrimination; specific trainings on Overcoming Islamophobia, on Overcoming Antisemitism, and on Reconciling Religion, Gender and Sexual Orientation; and, finally, on Facilitation Skills and Taking Action. Over 2,000 people have taken part. It has won prizes for quality adult learning from the European Commission's Lifelong Learning Programme, and also the BMW Group's First Prize for Intercultural Commitment. Its approach was developed with input from both "religious" and "non-religious" organisations and people. It has been tested in a variety of national, language and other contexts. It works by drawing, in an interactive and inclusive way, on the lived experience and narrative of participants, aiming to bring them into better personal consciousness and also to take responsibility for action. This article highlights the learning reported by participants in Belieforama and discusses this with reference to wider potential lessons for a Europe of religion and belief diversity as well as specific recommendations relating to the European Union.
    • Muslims in the UK

      Weller, Paul; Cheruvallil-Contractor, Sariya; University of Derby (Springer, 2014-11-27)
      Muslims in the United Kingdom (UK) are diverse and heterogeneous and include different ethnicities, ‘races’, classes and identities. Britain’s colonial history (including in Muslim majority lands), years of migration, and the growth of indigenous white Muslim communities has meant that the British Muslim population is a mosaic of the global Muslim ummah. Therefore the questions that logically precede the writing of this chapter, namely: ‘who is a British Muslim?,’ or ‘what does it mean to be a Muslim in Britain,’ are necessarily complex ones which require nuanced and detailed answers, but which inevitably entail the privileging of particular aspects of these groups—their ‘Muslimness’, as well as to a certain extent, their ‘Britishness’—from within the multiple identifications to which they may subscribe.