Continuing its annual university seminars for 2015, the Foundation held a successful seminar at the University of Leeds on Thursday 26thNovember on the topic of “Religious Freedom in Contemporary Britain: What are the boundaries between freedom of religion and secularism?” The student-led seminar was organised in partnership with the Islamic Society and in cooperation with Jewish and Christian speakers.
The speakers talked about how secular laws affect religious communities in Britain. To what extent is the separation of church and state in this country effective? What is the difference between liberalism and secularism outlooks towards religion? They argued that “liberalism” is inclusive while “secularism” is exclusive. It was also pointed out that Muslim community’s integration in this country has been far more successful than anywhere else and the Muslim community enjoys much more freedom of practising its religion in Britain. During the Q&A they discussed the difference between assimilation and integration; personal experiences of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia; the positive aspects of studying in a secular educational institution such the university challenging the students to have a wider perspective on their religious outlook.
It was agreed unanimously that this kind of seminars are very helpful to students and cooperation between JIF and Isoc should continue to set up future seminars and roundtable discussions. The cooperation is on-going.