Extract from Tariq Mehmood’s novel ‘You’re Not Proper.’


‘Well, Kiran, you really are just dirt,’ I thought aloud and walked on. I don’t know how long I walked, or which direction I went in. I didn’t stop at any road junctions, just crossed. Sometimes cars screeched to a halt, other times they beeped their horns. I just kept going. My ears burnt. My head ached. I felt so cold. My stomach was tight and my throat became dry. I sat down and my breakfast came out all over the pavement. I vomited a few more times and then stood up and walked again.
My mobile rang. It was mum. I ignored her. My dad rang. I ignored him. Mum texted me. I didn’t bother opening it and walked. I kept seeing monstrous faces going round and round in front of my eyes. Shamshad laughing, jeering. Holding her mobile phone in front of me.
‘Why, Shamshad?’ I called out to her. ‘What did I do to you?’
Shamshad didn’t answer. The monstrous mouths were open, but they were not saying anything. The mobile vibrated in my hand.
A car went swerving past. A red-faced driver, his mouth wide open, saying something to me. But there was only silence.
A cold wind came from somewhere. My head began to throb. It felt as if someone had put a metal clamp on it and was tightening it. Tighter and tighter! I walked on and on.
The clouds thickened above me, but there was no rain.
My hands were wet. My shirt was wet. I felt so hot. I sat down and vomited again.
There were only birds around. I was alone somewhere. And then, out of the silence, I heard mum’s voice. She was calling me. I tried to answer, but my voice was gone. Then I saw her running towards me.
‘What are you doing here, silly girl?’ She asked.
‘Look at the fool I am, mum,’ I hugged her and cried.
When I stopped crying, I realised I was in the graveyard, sitting under the weeping willow.
‘Thank goodness you’re alright,’ mum said, wiping my face.
‘Love you mum,’ I said.
She held my hand and we went home. Mum put me to bed.

The first time I woke up, there was a glass of water on the desk near my bed. I was in my nightclothes. The door was open. Mum and dad were talking downstairs. They were arguing.
Mum screamed, ‘It was because of you.’ It was a scream I had not heard for a long, long time. I was terrified. It would be back in our house.
‘It was an accident,’ dad said. ‘I wish I gave you a boy.’
‘I said I didn’t want to,’ mum said, ‘didn’t I?’
‘Let it go Sharon.’
‘I know you wanted a boy mum,’ I said lifting my head off the pillow. It was too heavy, it slumped back. ‘Please don’t fight over me. I’m sorry for being an accident. Don’t fight. Please.’
I forced myself to sit up in bed. I was going to go down stairs and beg them to stop fighting over me. The front door opened and slammed shut. My throat was dry. It hurt. I drank the water and slumped back on the bed. Behind my closed eyes, open mouths jeered at me. Big bulging eyes stared at me. The noises, they are the ones that really frightened me. They jeered and asked me so many questions: They wanted a boy, not you. What are you? Who are you? Where are you from? You thought you were White? White? Black? Coloured? Asian? Pakistani? Christian? Muslim? What are you? I kept waking up. I was telling mum about Shamshad. How she tormented me. How she hated me. Mum just stared back at me. Silently. Sadly.
I heard someone calling my name and woke. Mum was sitting beside my bed. She smiled a thankgoodnessyou’realright kind of smile. Dad was standing in the doorway, one of his lovely, hairy arms dangling by his side, the other behind his back. His loose, white vest rolled over his bulging stomach.
‘Nice to have you back,’ he smiled, ‘Karen, Kiran or Karey? Whoever you are today?’
I sat up in my bed. You’re really one for words, dad, I thought.
‘It’s Kiran dad,’ I said. ‘It’ll always be Kiran.’
Mum threw a daggerish look at dad. She kissed me on the forehead and left the room.
‘And you really are one,’ dad said, looking at a ray of sunlight coming through the window.
‘What?’ I leaned up and looked out of the window.
Twigs, leaves and broken branches littered the pavement. Some dustbins were on their sides. Mr and Mrs Mason from next door were surveying the damage from the storm. George was clearing rubbish from his garden, his dog watching him from a short distance.
Dad cleared his throat and said, nodding to the light, ‘Kiran. It means a ray of light,’ he said.
Suddenly I was filled with rage and snapped at him, ‘You’ve taught me nothing, dad, nothing! I want to be a proper Muslim,’ I cried, ‘Proper something!’
Dad kept quiet. He put one of his feet on top of the other. He was in deep thought.
‘Can you teach me, dad?’
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘I’ll teach you…’
Mum came back with a glass of hot milk and gave it to me. I held the cup in both my hands and asked, ‘Dad, do you actually know anything, about being a Muslim?’
‘I do.’
Mum coughed a pulltheotherone type of a cough.
‘I know a lot more than you think I know,’ he said to mum, but avoided eye contact with her.
‘Like fasting?’ mum asked.
Dad curled his big, fat lips, held them up to his nose, and breathed out.
‘And praying?’ mum said.
Dad interrupted mum with a protesting sigh, and said to me, ‘I can teach you what you need to know, whenever you are ready.’
I blew into the milk and drank a big mouthful, and then said, ‘I’m ready now, dad.’
He smiled, and said as he was leaving, ‘OK, but get better first.’
I finished off the milk and handed mum the empty cup. She said, taking it from me, ‘Let’s talk about it if you want.’
I nodded. I wasn’t going to let her talk me out of it.
After mum left, I went back to sleep. It was a deep, deep sleep, without monsters. I woke up in the afternoon. I was feeling sticky but really good with myself. I was going to be a new me. Gone was Karey. Gone was Karen. The WTM were dead. Here’s to Kiran, I thought!
I was going to surprise them all. The first thing that Kiran did, which Karen would never have done and Karey wouldn’t have thought about, was to change the sheets and pillow cases on her bed. After putting the dirty ones in the wash, I had a shower and went downstairs.
As I was going down, I heard the hiss of a beer can opening. Well, it is Saturday, I thought.
I checked my mobile. There was a text from mum: If you want anything from the shops, ring me on my mobile.
I went to the kitchen at the back of our house, poured some orange juice into a large glass and walked towards the front room. The door was ajar. Dad was sitting close to the television. The sound was low. I sneaked into the room and peeped at him from behind a large shelf. He was watching an Islam channel. An Imam was giving a talk to some youngsters on the proper way of praying. Dad was puffing away on a cigarette.

Mum, who usually brought the shopping home from Asda on her way back from work, was taking a long time at the shops. I texted her: Where are you mum?
Mum replied almost instantly: Done in 15 mins. Are you OK?
Me: Fine. Dad glued 2 TV.
Mum: What’s new? Tell him to pick me up.
As I was about to send my reply to mum, dad shouted, ‘Kiran, I’m going to pick your mum up. Text her. Tell her I’ll be a bit late.’
He was out of the door before I had a chance to reply.
I sent my reply to mum, Ur taxi’ll b a bit late. Lol, and went into the living room.
The living room stank of cigarettes and beer. I opened the windows. A cold wind lapped up the staleness. I sat on the sofa and flicked on the television. The news was on. A helicopter was broadcasting pictures of a mansion surrounded by woods. Breaking News: Islamic Terror Attack Foiled. I turned the television off. All of a sudden, I felt exhausted and dozed off. I was in an empty, white room. Without doors. Without windows. ‘Karey?’ someone called. And then, ‘Karen?’ And then, ‘Kiran?’
I woke up, with saliva dribbling out of my mouth, when mum and dad came back. By the time I got off the sofa they had already taken the shopping into the kitchen and mum was putting it away.
I sleepily walked in, wiping my mouth with a tissue. Mum gave me a great, big, you’llbealright kind of a look, and dad shoved tins into a cupboard. He was in a hurry, and I guessed it was getting nearer to the match. A tin can rolled out and fell on his toe. He yelled.
‘Serves you right, Lucky,’ mum laughed, looking at dad who was holding his foot. ‘Put them in properly.’
Dad didn’t bother saying anything back and blew his nose on his handkerchief. His weekly lottery ticket fell out of his pocket. I bent down, picked it up and put it on the table, thinking, ‘There’s nothing lucky about my dad.’
Mum picked up the lottery ticket and said, ‘Lucky, stop wasting money.’
‘You won’t say that when I win the jackpot,’ dad said, making a face of exaggerated pain.
‘You’re the only person I know who has never even won a tenner,’ mum said.
Yep. ‘There’s nothing lucky about my dad,’ I thought, and asked, ‘shall I get you a cold compress, dad?’
‘He needs an ambulance,’ mum said, as dad put his foot back down and adjusted the tins inside the cupboard, ‘don’t you Lucky?’
I suddenly felt really angry with mum and said, ‘His name’s not Lucky, is it? It’s Liaqat.’
Mum gave me an icy stare. Dad took a deep breath, and said, ‘No, Kiran, it’s not.’
Mum wiped the kitchen table, went over to the sink, and washed the dishes, which had already been washed – every now and again looking at me in the reflection in the window.
When she had finished, she looked around the kitchen to make sure everything was where it should be.
‘Don’t hate me mum,’ I said. I was determined not to cry. ‘But I can’t go to church with you any more. Your Jesus is white. Your Holy Mother is white. And The Father has to be white as well. And look at me! Just look at me!’
Mum whispered, ‘It’s not like that.’
‘I know you hate me,’ I said, holding back my tears.
‘It’s not like that,’ mum repeated, walking up to me.
‘You can be what you like, Kiran,’ dad stood up and put his hand on my head.
Mum and dad exchanged looks that sent shivers down my spine.
I sat down on a chair, put my head in my hands and wept. Mum got me a glass of water. I drank it.
Mum leaned over to an unpacked bag, picked it up and put it on the table. Pushing it towards me, she said, ‘Here I bought these for you.’
Dad picked something out from under a pile of empty bags and hid it behind his back. A big grin ran across his face.
The bag mum gave me had a green hijab and a long-sleeved, white kurta along with some books and a DVD in it. There were small books called Qaidas and there was the Holy Quran. There was a book on the prophet, a book on Islamic history, and a book about fasting. The DVD was called The Messenger. I felt so ashamed of myself that I stood up, kissed mum on the cheeks and hugged her.
‘What’ve you got for her, Lucky?’ mum asked, in a knowing kind of a tone.
Dad walked out of the kitchen backwards, hiding something behind his back.
‘Come on, dad, what you got for me, eh?’
‘I’ll give it to you tomorrow,’ he said, trying to get away.
‘Let’s see it, dad.’
‘Show her, Lucky,’ mum said.
‘Liaqat, mum!’
‘He’ll always be Lucky to me,’ mum replied.
Dad brought his hand round to the front slowly. He was holding a book as well: Islam for Dummies.
We had a really good laugh, and then I said, ‘Dad, you can teach me how to pray, can’t you?’
‘Course I can.’
Mum sniggered.
‘Can you teach me to read the Quran, dad?’
‘Yep. I read it all, twice, in Pakistan when I was a boy,’ dad said, ‘but don’t expect me to start believing in all that stuff.’
Mum went silent. Her eyes drifted off for a moment into one those worlds that no one could get into, but then she came back all of a sudden, and said, ‘Lucky, go into the living room with Kiran and start teaching her what you know. Let me get the dinner on.’
‘I can teach her, you know,’ dad said.
‘Go on then,’ mum said.
Dad rubbed his hand on his stomach and then on his head, and said, ‘I will.’ Turning to me, he said, ‘Come on Kiran, let’s start right now. We’ll start with the Qaida, and you can learn it just like I did. And then I’ll teach you to how to pray.’
Mum sniggered again. I went to the front living room with dad carrying the books. Dad cleared the coffee table and sat down on the sofa. I sat down next to him.
‘Do you mind if I just check on the score before we start?’ dad asked, holding the TV remote.
I smiled and shook my head. He flicked through a few screens and then turned the television off. He opened the first page of the Qaida, pointed to the first letter, and said, ‘Alif.’
‘Alif,’ I repeated.
‘Bey,’ he said, pointing to the next letter.
I repeated as he went along. I was so happy to be sitting with my dad learning Arabic letters that I must have been the happiest girl in the world. I couldn’t remember any other time we had sat together for so long, me and my dad. As we were going over the letters for a second or third time, mum came into the room and moaned, ‘Lucky! Don’t smoke a cigarette next to Kiran, and not while you’re trying to teach her to read the Quran!’
Dad quickly stubbed out the one he was smoking, blowing the smoke away from me.
‘I think you’ve done enough for today on the reading,’ dad said.
‘You’re going to teach me how to pray?’
‘Course I am,’ he said, walking out of the room. Mum smiled at me a sort of I’dliketosee kind of a look and followed dad out. I put the Qaida away and went to the kitchen to help mum. I heard dad stomping down the stairs calling me back into the living room. Mum followed me.
Dad was looking all around the room a bit puzzled. He said, ‘I just can’t remember which way the Kabah is.’
‘Mum nodded towards the television corner. Dad looked up at the ceiling for a moment, and said, ‘Yes. You’re absolutely right.’
‘I bet you’d have said that whatever mum said,’ I thought.
‘You haven’t got a prayer mat,’ mum said.
‘I have,’ he said, spreading a big, red towel in the space in front of the television. It was a Manchester United towel, with a picture of Alex Ferguson on it.
‘I’m not praying on that…’
Dad picked the towel up, turned it over and spread it out on the floor. It had a picture of Rooney on the other side.
‘Oh dad!’
He stepped onto the towel, raised his hands to his ears, and said, ‘First you do this, and you say ‘Allah O Akbar,’ bending down towards his knees, he said, ‘and then you do this and,’ he stood upright, and said, ‘then you do this…’
Mum interrupted, ‘For god’s sake Lucky, you’re drinking beer and teaching Kiran how to pray!’
Handing a half-drunk can of beer he was holding in his hand to mum, he said, ‘You’re right about that.’
‘You’d better take this girl to the mosque or something, Lucky,’ mum said, ‘She wants to learn it properly.’

Extract from Tariq Mehmood’s novel ‘You’re not Proper.’


I had gone to the graveyard with my friend Laila to see the new headstone on my granddad’s grave. May the Almighty grant him a place in Heaven. It was made of royal white marble, with the Kalma carved into it, running around its flowery edge. Someone had written ‘EDL’ on the last one. We were sitting on a bench under one of the new CCTV cameras, which covered our graveyard, when Karen Malik came flying over the fence and landed on her bum not far from us.
What else can you do but laugh at someone whose behind is stuck up in the air and whose knickers have gone up their bum?
‘There’s nothing worst then someone like her,’ I said loudly to Laila, making sure Karen heard me. ‘Especially when she’s sucking up to her gora gang.’
‘Oh, Shami,’ Laila protested, squeezing my hand, ‘lets not let her spoil it.’
I nodded letting out a sigh of relief, but still couldn’t help thinking about how her gang had made me feel so bad, so often, how they had humiliated me because I am a Muslim, especially that Donna.
‘You know Laila, once when I went past her gang, Donna started singing, “God made little, brown people. He made ’em in the night. He made ’em in a hurry and forgot to paint ’em white.”’
‘It’s stupid,’ Laila laughed.
‘It is a bit, but then I didn’t think it was, funny, you know. But what really got under my nose was the way Karen laughed with them.’
‘What a cow,’ Laila said.
‘Isn’t she just.’
After Karen went to see her gang, Laila and I strolled up the path to see what she was going to get up to.
I didn’t see them coming. They jumped up from behind us. Donna pushed Laila through the hedge. She held my wrists so tightly in her fat hand it hurt. I wish I had said nothing to her, just punched her in the face when she ripped my hijab off, but ended up saying the most stupid thing in the world, ‘Me dad’ll kill me!’
I don’t know why, but when that Chole was waving my hijab in front of my face, pretending somehow I talked like that, made me think about her seventh birthday party. She was so excited she just couldn’t blow the candles out and I blew them out for her and she gave me a great big hug and kissed me on my cheek.
What made me really, really mad was the way Karen joined in laughing at me. It’s one thing leaving Islam for her mum’s religion, but it’s another ganging up with her WTM posse and insulting mine. It’s just as well they ran off when I came back with the girls.
On the way back home, I said to Laila, ‘I’m going to teach that Karen a lesson tomorrow, she will never ever forget.’
On the way home I prayed inside my head, ‘Ya Allah, give me strength to get my own back on her.’
That night when I went to sleep, even then I couldn’t keep Karen out of my dreams. I dreamed I was going to a special assembly at school. Everyone was there. There was only one chair left empty. It was in the front of the hall. Everyone was looking at me. Karen was standing next to me, her eye on the chair. I ran for the chair. Everyone cheered. She ran for the same chair. I grabbed her hand, to pull her back but she snatched it free and beat me to the chair. The teachers were praising her. Everyone was clapping for her and laughing at me. My mother stood at the back of the hall. Stone-faced, as ever. I ran to her, crying. I held my arms out for mum to hug me. She folded her arms. I ran past her and just as I got outside the Assembly Hall, there was Karen and her mother. Her white mother was combing Karen’s hair.
The next morning, I put a pair of scissors in my bag and caught the bus to school early to wait for Karen.

21st of June Program

Literary Activism
Saturday 21 June 2 – 6.30pm
Manchester City College, 372 -376a Dickenson Road, Longsight, Manchester, M13 0WQ
Changing Racisms: The representation of the ‘other’ in literature today, in particular of Muslims and Islam.
Creative Rendering and Resistance: A history of literary resistance: from secular left to religious resistance. What can we learn from the past? What is needed today?

Hamja Ahsan – The Talha Ahsan campaign. Hamja Ahsan is the brother of Talha Ahsan who was extradited to the US.
Nisha Kapoor: Extra-ordinary Extradition Nisha Kapoor is an academic and campaigner with the Talha Ahsan campaign
Ken Fero: Poetry of the Image Ken Fero is a multiple award winning filmmaker.
Anandi Ramamurthy: Slogans as Poetry of Resistance Anandi Ramamurthy is an academic and campaigner, author of Kala Tara, A History of the Asian Youth Movements.
Kavita Bhanot: Reading Racism Kavita Bhanot is a writer, editor, teacher.
Tariq Mehmood: Writing & Resistance Tariq Mehmood is a writer, campaigner and a former defendant from the Bradford 12.

Exhibition: Bradford Twelve, all day

Abo Gaabi singing a medley in Arabic of poems from South Africa, Palestine and Algeria.
Mishaal Mehmood singing in English
Peter Kalu: POW: Ecclesiastical Public Relations Agency. A Performance Peter Kalu is an award-winning writer and storyteller
Virinder Kalra: Performance of the Revolutionary Poetry of The Ghadar Movement Virinder Singh Kalra is an academic and campaigner, he writes about popular culture, the South Asian diaspora and racism in Britain.
Performance of resistance literature throughout the day

Free to attend. Limited spaces. For more information or to confirm attendance email:

‘Prevent’ing Education: Anti-Muslim racism and the War on Terror

Since the events of the 2001 riots, 9/11 and the terrorist attacks in London in 2005, we have witnessed in Western Europe an ‘end of multiculturalism’ and a policy debate on integration of Muslim communities within a heightened security context. These policy debates on racialised minority groups have coincided with the emergence and popular appeal of a ‘new British fascism’ in the form of English Defence League and more recently a rise in popular right wing political parties such as UKIP. These trends paradoxically take place with a backdrop of a wider debate on post-racism in public discourse despite the fundamental disconnect between the racial rhetoric of the state and the experiences of many racialised minorities.
The increasing Muslim presence in Europe, together with the growing security concerns about Muslim communities, has given rise to this discursive framing of the Muslim problematic, often labelled as anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia. The concept of anti-Muslim racism, which builds upon colonial and orientalist schemata, is best used to explain the phenomenon of ‘new racism’ in this current context, as a term that focuses less on the hostility against Islam and more on the aggression and prejudice against Muslims – that is to say, anti-Muslim prejudice focuses on the ‘lives of Muslims’ in the West. Anti-Muslim racism in its present form sees the current portrayal of the Muslim problematic arising from a transition from anti-Asian racism, revolving around the essentialised ‘Paki’, to anti-Muslim racism – with the objective of the hate being transferred from race to culture.
The national debate on the ‘War on Terror’ on the Muslim problematic has often been associated with the on-going military campaign led by the USA, the United Kingdom and their allies. The intense effects of these campaigns on the Muslim conditions in the West have direct consequences for racial experiences of schooling for Muslim pupils, where the rhetoric used to extend the war on terror is often used as a repertoire of abuse in the classroom. In fact interviews carried out with 15-year-old Muslim boys attending a secondary school in the North West of England, exemplify how international events shape the way in which Muslims are ‘treated’ and also ‘excluded’ from particular activities in schools. The following observation shows how micro-level racial aggression is a daily experience for some but a key feature of schooling for all minorities racial groups.
“The big stereotypical view of us Muslims in school put it plain and simple is that we’re terrorist. The white students think we’re terrorist, but I also think the teachers also think the same. We know that the white teachers and the kids don’t like us. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that you know… For example we’ll be in class, like the other day we were talking about something in history and this white guy said something and said something which I did not agree with him so I told him I think you wrong. And suddenly he jumped up and said OK you’re right otherwise YOUR GONNA BLOW ME UP’>. Or, I’ll give you another example, it will be like, you’ll be walking down the corridor in school, you know minding your own business, and a group of white students would say ‘tick tick tick tick’ – like a bomb going off.”

Shamim Miah

EXTRADITION by Talha Ahsan

Five years ago they brought me to a cell
and ever since a waiting game plays here.
As they decide on sending me away,
my parents grow so grey and sad at home.

How will they manage visiting me there
or must they wait until the end of time?

Ma, hear my oath, by him whose hand is time,
bars stand in worship with me in this cell.
So even if I’m extradited there
and taken from my humble parents here,
then tell them paradise is our true home
whose gardens years will never fade away.

To Florence prison I’ll be sent away
It doesn’t matter what will be my time.
No prison ever can be called my home,
how ever long they put me in a cell.
A higher power occupies me here
who’s closer to me even over there.

Perhaps they’ll clean their hands of me once there.
And then my country feels I’m wiped away.
Though germs stay always floating from me here:
these particles will gather born in time,
a culture breeding from a tiny cell,
to carry on infecting every home.

Theresa May, a minister at home
though feeble servant to her masters there;
a solitary torture chamber cell,
To put me in, she’ll simply say, ‘Away!’
So let me while I can devote my time
to work for my own justice over here.

I pitch a tent for battle waiting here.
And in this heart of mine you’ll find a home,
free from the crumbling effects of time
or any rotting thoughts of being there.
It is a sin for me to run away
As patience brings my glory to this cell.

For time will be a brief sojourning here,
and there, or anywhere I make a home –
Away! A caravan escapes my cell.

(C) Talha Ahsan, HMP Long Lartin, 19 July 2011

Extraordinary Extradition: Racial Injustice in Britain

In 2003 a new Extradition Act was fast-tracked into UK legislation without formal consultative parliamentary process, scrutiny or debate. The Act made provisions for a unilateral agreement between the US and the UK whereby the UK would be expected to extradite any individual to the US on request without the need for the US to provide prima facie evidence, (but to just invoke reasonable suspicion), and thus without allowing the individual called to challenge any evidence provided by the US in a British Court of Law. In contrast, for any requests made by the UK for extradition of subjects from the US, UK authorities are expected to provide enough evidence to demonstrate ‘probable cause’. Accordingly, since its inception the US-UK Treaty has been the centre of much controversy most notably because it has made explicit the hegemonic position of the US in Anglo-American relations and brought to popular attention the limits of UK national sovereignty.
A backbench debate on the issue of extradition took place in December 2011, where after initial reluctance the cases of Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan were incorporated. Here there was clear opposition against the Treaty with MPs of all political persuasions arguing that the legislation was completely at odds with the liberal principles of the British justice system and greatly eroded ‘the liberty of our citizens’. In his introduction to the discussion Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, argued that what was under threat was the ‘cornerstone of British justice, innocent until proven guilty’, asserting that ‘in taking the fight to the terrorists and the serious criminals after 9/11, the pendulum [had] swung too far the other way’ (House of Commons Debate, 2011, c82). Of ultimate concern was how a legal process stripped of all intent to due process, designed for targeting ‘the terrorist’, could also encompass the (white) British citizen. The consequence was to call for adjustment to legislation that was being delivered in a ‘one size fits all’ manner so that it could better distinguish between the two. The legitimacy of extradition was thus determinant on its ability to racially distinguish, to invoke racism– racial division and stratification – to regulate the distribution of death (social and real). The House of Commons debate made clear that the extradition process was unfair because the distinction being made between those who must live and those who must die appeared racially incoherent.
However, of the numerous violations which the state carries out at its discretion, it is interesting that extradition is one of the few acts which has prompted largescale upset and dissent. Between 2004 and July 2011, 73 UK nationals or dual nationals were surrendered from the UK to the US (Baker et al, 2011), not all on terror-related offences. In this process it has become apparent that there have been quite different responses to the indictments for Muslims accused of terrorism compared with the White British citizens being requested on other charges. It is the more widespread use of extradition which has brought the issue so much attention, prompting national debate and calls for significant reform. As David Davis MP remarked:
We should keep in mind that the rather draconian process that we have, which was put in place to defend us against terrorism, does not appear to have had much impact in that respect. In practice, the outcome is much more mundane. The truth of the matter is that we will have far more Gary McKinnons extradited than Osama bin Ladens (House of Commons Debate, 2011, c91).
When the European Court ruled in 2012 that the proposed prospect of 80-100 years in solitary confinement was not tantamount to torture and that consequently five Muslim men accused of terrorism-related charges could be extradited to the US, the decision received national public approval. This was in stark contrast to the public support for halting the extradition of Gary McKinnon, a campaign that was led by the Daily Mail. In October 2012, ten days following the extradition of the Muslim men, when the Home Secretary ruled that McKinnon would not be extradited it was viewed as a victory for British Justice. But the short sightedness of these celebrations meant that the populace failed to recognise the connections between the repeal of the human rights of those accused of terrorism and the repeal of their own human rights.

Nisha Kapoor, from The State of Race (Palgrave-Macmillan 2013)

Material for the workshops and conference ‘Racism, Writing and Resistance’ WED 18 JUNE – FRI 4 JULY 2014

We’ve seen a decade of re-energised racism and orientalist representation, particularly in the demonising of Muslims and Islam. Mainstream English language literature meanwhile repeatedly stereotypes, ridicules, simplifies and homogenises in its representation of non-westernised/modernised characters: it can often seem as if writers, assumed to be ‘writing back’, have taken over the mantle of orientalist representation by the west. Certain ideologies become invisible in ‘literature’; their normalised values are assumed to be ‘universal,’ and ‘humanist;’ whilst literature that questions such assumptions overtly, or presents alternative visions is branded as propagandist, ideological, polemical. This increases the need for writers, academics, activists and others with a belief in the importance of literature, in its potential to influence, inform, reflect and critique, to come together in one space and share stories, ideas and modes of resistance.

Does literature perpetuate racism, Islamophobia? What is the relationship between literature and government policies of multiculturalism, integration, assimilation, the war on terror? Where are the other stories? Can literature play a role in resistance?

These are some of the questions that we will explore in these workshops, as well as the ways in which we can create a new literary landscape. In a bid to challenge the growing professionalism and separation of fields such as writing, academia and activism, as they increasingly come to be seen as irrelevant and unintelligible to each other, we are bringing writers academics and activists together and, through conversations across ‘professions’ reviving connections between writing, activism and ideas.