Mirza is an associate fellow for the UK conservative think tank “Policy Exchange”. The think tank will be hosting a number of events at the Conservative Party’s conference in October.
Here’s how Policy Exchange describes Mirza:
Munira Mirza writes and broadcasts on issues related to multiculturalism, cultural identity and urban regeneration. She is an arts consultant for the London East Research Institute and is currently working on her PhD at the University of Kent … She edited the Policy Exchange report Culture Vultures in February 2006. Munira is also part of the Manifesto Club, which will launch in November 2006.
Mirza has an impressive background in English literature and the Arts. Her views on cultural policy are well worth reading, especially her chapter in the Culture Vultures report entitled “The arts as painkiller”.
The CIS’s invitation of Mirza sounds like a positive development. Up until now, most speakers they've invited to talk about political Islam have hardly been experts in the field. Indeed, most have been neo-conservative cultural warriors like Mark Steyn and Daniel Pipes. These speakers have tended to use the CIS podium to sprout conspiracy theories about Muslim minorities as opposed to getting to the heart of the problem.
Still, the CIS has also invited some excellent speakers like Muhammad Fajrul Falaakh, a senior lawyer from Indonesia's prestigious Gadjah Mada University and a leading figure in Nahdhatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic organisation.
Hopefully Mirza will be able to avoid the sentiments so typical of monocultural revolutionaries like Steyn. Still, it is questionable how much the UK Muslim experience can be transferred to Australia, which has a much more multicultural and less socially and economically disadvantaged Muslim community than the UK Muslim community.
© Irfan Yusuf 2006