CASS represented at Winter Reception of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

Paul Iganski and Cat Smith MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood, and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, at the Winter Reception.

Paul Iganski and Cat Smith MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood, and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, at the Winter Reception.

On Wednesday, 16th December, Paul Iganski and Abe Sweiry attended the Winter Reception of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism in the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament. Attendees heard speeches from John Mann MP, the chair of the Group, Commander Dean Haydon from the Metropolitan Police Service and Baroness Williams of Trafford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The event ended a significant year for the APPG against antisemitism, in which it published its second major inquiry into antisemitism. John Mann MP instigated the report into the lessons that could be learned from the upsurge of anti-Jewish incidents associated with last year’s conflict in Gaza.

Professor Iganski and Dr Sweiry, as part of a team from Lancaster University’s ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS), were commissioned by the APPG to provide a rapid-response analysis of antisemitism on Twitter during the conflict to inform the Inquiry’s report.

CASS blog Anti-semitismIn highlighting the findings from CASS in the Inquiry report, the APPG called the analysis of Tweets ‘a unique piece of research which provides valuable and important early indications of trends that occurred during the summer’. [1]

The report recommended further research of the kind offered by CASS stating that ‘the importance of this research should not be underestimated. It helps identify some of the themes in discourse and with time could help to detect patterns of antisemitism and therefore to better direct resources to combat it’. [2]

In the intervening months between the report’s publication and the Winter reception, a progress review of the implementation of the APPG’s recommendations noted that ‘the CPS has pledged to review its guidance relating to communications sent via social media and review the handling of such cases within CPS Areas.’ [3]


[1] All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) (2015) Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, London: APPG, page 51.

[2] All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) (2015) Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, London: APPG, page 53.

[3] All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) (2015) Implementation of the All-Party Parliamentary Report into Antisemitism: feedback and responses, London: APPG, page 4.


CASS presentation at Cambridge University Centre of Islamic Studies symposium on Anti-Muslim Hate Crime

The CASS ‘Hate Speech’ project team were invited on the 16th of June to present some of our findings at a Symposium on Anti-Muslim Hate Crime held at the University of Cambridge Centre of Islamic Studies. The Symposium was organised by Julian Hargreaves, a Lancaster University Law School PhD student and Research Associate at the Cambridge Centre.

The symposium brought together academics, community experts and civil society leaders in a unique event that allowed the sharing of knowledge, experience and expertise on the subject from a wide range of perspectives.

The first session of the day focussed on the research approaches and findings from three UK academic centres. Stevie-Jade Hardy from the University of Leicester’s Hate Crime Project isolated and shared some of the project’s key findings on experiences and impacts of hate crime for Muslims in Leicester. Sussex University PhD student Harriet Fearn discussed the early observations she had made in her research on the impacts of hate crime against Muslims on the internet.

Representing CASS and Lancaster University Law School, Paul Iganski and I then delivered a presentation of our work conducted with Jonathan Culpeper examining Crown Prosecution Service files from cases of religiously aggravated offences. In our paper titled ‘A question of faith?’, Paul and I explored the boundaries of free speech, the roles of religious identity and religious beliefs in the alleged offences committed, and the commonalities in the circumstances and contexts which surround offences prosecuted as religiously aggravated.

After lunch, the experiences of representatives from three community organisations confronting hate crime in Britain were shared with those present. Alice Purves gave a compelling account of the challenges faced by the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC). Jed Din, director of the Bradford Hate Crime Alliance then offered a personal account of the particular challenges of anti-Muslim hate crime and his own visions to develop community cohesion as a response. The session concluded with a presentation on anti-Muslim hate crime in Leicester from Jawaahir Daahir, CEO of the Somali Development Services.

The final session of the day, chaired by Paul Iganski, offered different approaches to documenting and responding to anti-Muslim hate crime. Shenaz Bunglawala, the head of research at MEND, shared insights and observations on the prevalence of anti-Muslim hate crime and attitudes to Muslims in Britain. The presentation included several of the key findings and observations from the research led by CASS director Tony McEnery on Representations of Islam in the British press. Those gathered then had the opportunity to hear from Hayyan Bhabha, the independent parliamentary researcher for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia, who shared the latest developments in the work of the APPG and illustrated some of the evidence received or collated by the APPG. The final paper of the day came from Vishal Vora, from SOAS, with a perspective on indirect discrimination towards British Muslim women as a consequence of declarations of ‘non marriage’ by the English family court.


From left to right: Abe Sweiry, Julian Hargreaves and Paul Iganski

The symposium was a very successful event and Paul and I very much enjoyed contributing to the day. Thanks are due to Julian and to Louise Beazor for putting together a very interesting programme, bringing together a wide range of perspectives on an important social issue, and arranging a highly productive day for all in attendance.