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The Edinburgh Race Equality Network (EREN) is a community of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic colleagues and allies committed to race equity, diversity and inclusion. As the community continues to grow, Emily Sena (Convenor of EREN) and Umar Malik (Convenor of the EREN Tackling Islamophobia Working Group) share information about EREN’s events and activities with bulletin.

We consider events as an important part of community building. We have launched the EREN Lunchtime Biography Series. We recognise the importance of sharing and hearing personal stories, for empathy and understanding of the challenges faced by, and the achievements of, our colleagues in their careers. We are delighted about the ongoing success of the EREN book club. We have rotated between, fiction, non-fiction and academic texts and the conversations are always rich, educating and empower us to talk about race. The next book club event will be in mid-May, please join our mailing list by emailing RaceEqualityStaffNetwork@ed.ac.uk or join our Teams page for up to date information. We are also committed to working more closely with the other staff networks and are in the process of developing events in collaboration with them.

Finally, our major activism activity this year is tackling Islamophobia in the University. Islamophobia is seen by many as the last acceptable form of racism and has been described as having “passed the dinner-table test.” It manifests, functions, and reproduces as a form of racism, with Muslim communities being frequently seen and treated as a racialised group. Islamophobia takes many forms from the more overt anti-Muslim hatred in the form of physical and verbal attacks to the less visible discrimination, marginalisation and exclusion of Muslims or those perceived to be Muslims.

As with all forms of racism, we need to work together to tackle Islamophobia and with this aim, EREN has set up the Tackling Islamophobia Working Group. The group consists of talented individuals from across our diverse University community with a fantastic variety of skills and expertise focused on addressing this racism on campus. We have outlined our key objectives, which are:

1. To ensure University-wide adoption and practical commitment to the APPG Definition of Islamophobia.

2. To participate and engage with the development of the new University-wide ‘Report and Support’ mechanisms for reporting racism to explicitly include Islamophobia incidents.

3. To ensure tackling Islamophobia actions are embedded in all racism-related University action plans.

4. To remain involved and up to date with other racism data collection within the University to ensure Islamophobia is included and considered.

We are still in our early days as a working group and welcome new members from across the University community who share an interest and concern in addressing Islamophobia. We meet every two months and, restrictions permitting, hope to get together in person for an Eid social in the summer.

This open invitation relates to EREN generally, we welcome all colleagues to join our community, contribute to the EREN blog and of course, follow us on Twitter.