Archives

Press Release:  MEND / Unite Against Fascism

For Attention: News-desk

19 November 2014

 

Diane Abbott MP, Muslim community groups and NGO’s come together to tackle Islamophobia

Tackling Islamophobia: Roundtable panel discussion in Parliament

3-5pm Thursday 20 November 2014

Committee Room 16 

House of Commons

Unite Against Fascism and MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development) have called a roundtable event in Parliament as part of November’s Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM).  The event is an opportunity to address some of the pressing issues facing the Muslim community with a diverse panel that will take up matters including government policy regarding the Muslim community, the rise in Islamophobic hate crimes, policing and the Muslim community and the impact of the media portrayals of Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia has been rising at an alarming rate over recent years. In London alone, from April 2013 to March 2014, we have seen a rise of 69% in Islamophobic crimes with the Met Police observing an eightfold increase in anti-Muslim attacks in the two weeks following Lee Rigby’s murder. During the last twelve months, the Metropolitan Police have recorded 573 Islamophobic crimes in London. Given that 43% of all hate crimes go unreported (Crime Survey for England and Wales), the actual number of Islamophobic crimes is undoubtedly much higher. Unlike most incidents of hate crime, which overwhelmingly involve male perpetrators and victims, Teeside University have found that the majority of the victims of Islamophobic attacks are female.

The round table will focus on key demands to the Government, policy makers, and parliamentarians to deal more effectively with Islamophobia, including statutory responses and responsibilities, measures to improve policing and better legislation to protect faith-based communities.

Panellists will consist of:

Diane Abbott MP, 

Sufyan Ismail CEO, MEND 

Hugh Lanning, Vice-Chair, Unite Against Fascism

Dr. Mark Walters, Senior Lecturer in Law, Sussex University, 

Dr. Omar Khan Director, Runnymede Trust

Talha Ahmad, Member of the National Council, Muslim Council of Britain

Mohammed Kozbar, Vice President MAB and Chair of Finsbury Park Mosque

Maz Saleem, Daughter of Mohammed Saleem

Sabby Dhalu and Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretaries, Unite Against Fascism 

 

Sufyan Ismail, CEO of MEND, said:

“Scores of attacks on British Muslims around the country shows that it is time to take Islamophobia every bit as seriously as racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. This round table event in Parliament is an important step towards identifying causes, assessing impact and collaborating on a strategy to tackle anti-Muslim hatred. MEND is delighted to be part of this initiative.”

Sabby Dhalu, Joint National Secretary, UAF, said:

‘The cutting edge of the rise of the far right has been its Islamophobia.  The fascist BNP targeted the Muslim community and the violent EDL marched on Mosques.  UAF is proud to have worked centrally with the Muslim community to defeat fascism electorally and in our communities. UAF played an active role in challenging Islamophobia and will continue to do so until it is condemned to the dustbin of history.’

For more information and interviews contact Denis Fernando on 07790 022 472 or Shiplu Miah on 07863 349 007

 

Notes to editor:

1. MEND (Muslim Engagement & Development) is a not-for-profit company working towards enhancing the active engagement of British Muslim communities in our national life, particularly in the fields of politics and the media.

2. November is Islamophobia Awareness Month (IAM) during which exhibitions, seminars, workshops and conferences are organised across the country by various organisations to highlight the growing incidence of anti-Muslim hatred and hate speech.

3. List of MEND’s events for Islamophobia Awareness Month can be found here: http://iengage.uk.net/iam/upcoming-events-iam2014/

4. MEND Website: www.mend.org.uk

5.  Unite Against Fascism Website: Www.uaf.org.ukinfo@uaf.org.uk

 

Download Press Release

Islamophobia is on the rise in the UK. Join our campaign to highlight the effects and tackle issues related to Islamophobia.

Follow us and add to our social network stream by tagging your images, posts and activities with #IAM2014 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.

Tag us and get involved! #IAM2014.

The following events will take place across the UK. Find out more about these events or to attend please contact us online.

Download #IAM2014 Events poster here

Click on image below to view high resolution image, save the image file on your device or PC and share on social media with our hashtag: #IAM2014.

Do your bit to challenge Islamophobia locally. Hire our exclusive Islamophobia exhibition for free. Simply contact us to arrange a booking.

IAM_HIRE_London_A5

Book one of our speakers to come and present one of our landmark presentation on Islamophobia. Contact us today.

Cheadle-Mosque_v6

Find out more about how to tackle Islamophobia. Download the resource packs endorsed by NASUWT: The Largest Teachers’ Union In the United Kingdom.

Download our Khutbah on Islamophobia and help raise awareness at your local Masjid.

PART ONE:

One of the real tragedies of our time is that we definitely know of a problem clearly, hear about it regularly, see it sometimes, and even experience it ourselves every so often too, yet we actively do very little about it!

pdf-icon_smIslamophobia is that problem – i.e. where people give Muslims a real hard time whether by ridiculing them, inciting people against them, or even attacking them, just because that person identifies themselves as a Muslim – and it is on the rise. And it’s getting worse.

This is not a khutbah where we give you examples of the threat, or tell some of the horrific stories reported. If you don’t know this already, you have a bigger problem: keeping yourself so ignorant of your very own community’s difficulties is very irresponsible and also against the Sunnah. The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in Sahih Muslim (2586):

“The believers, in their mutual mercy, love and compassion, are like a (single) body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will join it in staying awake and suffering fever.”

pdf-icon_sm-268x3002This is a reminder to us all, that if we just sit back and remain in our apathetic states thinking we can ride out the storm, and that we should only protect ourselves and our individual iman, then we will fail. Spectacularly fail.

Practising this form of secular Islam is not permissible. Firstly, Islam is bigger than just you, and your actions alone. Secondly, keeping yourself to yourself and nothing else is anti-Islamic, because part of Islam is to be established for the benefit of others as well. Thirdly, such an approach of sticking your head in the sand or hoping that others will step up and sort it out – when actually, they are also just thinking the exact same as you – is disingenuous and will lead to the fitnah increasing and then lead to an even bigger threat and problem.
There’s a very interesting hadith, authentically narrated by Ibn Majah (304), that Sayyidina Abu Bakr al-Siddique (radhyAllahu ‘anhu) came to some of the Sahabah and recited this verse to them:

“O You who believe, you are responsible for your own souls; if anyone else goes astray it will not harm you so long as you follow the guidance.” (al-Ma’idah, 105)

Then he turned to them and said, “The people are taking this verse and not applying it properly.”
What he wanted to say is that some of the Companions were understanding this verse in a very restricted sense, i.e. that if there are problems affecting the community, affecting others, well, as long as you look after yourself, then that’s all that matters. Which is completely wrong, because Sayyidina Abu Bakr then said:

“But verily, I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “When a people see an Oppressor and do not hold him accountable, or they see an evil and they do not change it, Allah will punish them all.”” (Ibn Majah, 304, authentic)

So the ruling is clear. Yes we concentrate on ourselves. And yes we know that our enemies cannot harm us along as we stay upon Divine Guidance.

But when there is harm and evil and oppression and injustice in front of us, and when our brothers and sisters need our help, then we must ACT! Immediately!

The Prophet (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said in Sahih Muslim:

“Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith”

So whatever one does, but you have to do SOMETHING. Doing nothing is NOT an option.
And what you do is based on your ability, things which you really CAN do. No-one is going to ask you to do the impossible, and heal the world in a week. But what you WILL be told is to come out of your comfort zone and work together to make sure that the threat of Islamophobia doesn’t reach a state where neighbours start murdering one another, such as what we saw around the corner in Bosnia, or even in the Central African Republic today.

These are not scare tactics. If we don’t all do something to change the status quo, if we don’t get out there and create our own narrative as per the Book of Allah, then those who hate us will create that narrative for us!
Those who sacrifice their time, strategize, plan, protest, engage, all in the hope of doing what is right and forbidding wrong, are truly the best of people and what we should all aim to be:

You are the best community singled out for people: you order what is right, forbid what is wrong, and believe in Allah. (Ale-‘Imran, 110)

And if we keep thinking there are enough activists out there doing what’s needed, then there isn’t. We need far more people, doing far more for themselves and the Ummah. And if it’s not going to be you helping out, then WHO is going to be helping out? And what was you created for anyway? Just to pray in the Masjid? And so what happens where we get to a situation where all the applications for Masajid are refused, and whatever Masajid left are under attack all the time from the EDL and other hooligans?

Brothers and sisters, these are NOT fairy tales. This could really happen if we don’t take control right now.

PART TWO:

So what CAN you do in order to fulfil your obligation of preventing evil, and working for the sake of your community when it comes to a problem like Islamophobia?

Here is a three-pronged plan:

Number 1. Educate yourself and other Muslims on hate crime in particular Islamophobia and encourage people to report every crime to the Police

You MUST report these to the police. Groups like MEND have worked very hard to get many Police Forces to even recognise this category of hate crime. Why is that important? Because then we have the cold hard facts to show to the authorities and prove that there is a real quantifiable problem that fluctuates here and there and can be traced back to events, policy decisions, and other factors by which we can hold our leaders accountable, in a court of a law even if necessary.

Number 2. We need to initiate Public Awareness Campaign to help non-Muslims understand the impact of anti-Muslim prejudice and hate crime on Muslim communities.

We must disseminate better the fact that Islamophobia is a problem for society to tackle as a whole, not just Muslims. That this is a blight on ALL our society and reflects all of us, and not just the criminals. Your non-Muslim friends, neighbours and colleagues can present a case or argue our side far more effectively than Muslims can, and it’s a more impassioned appeal when they really FEEL the problem themselves. You have to educate them.

Finally, Number 3. Getting involved – we want to get the message out there that until we fully engage as citizens of this country and realise our duties we will not make progress on stemming this form of hate crime.

This means we must comment, challenge and even commend – yes, thank and appreciate – the media appropriately. We will not be silent voices on the side and remain ignored.
This means we must engage our politicians whether councillors or MPs on taking a robust stand against Islamophobia

This means we must as Muslims not only portray our deen correctly and positivel
y but reach out to non-Muslims by organising informal meetings with your friends and family, and then more formal open days and events, and you need to speak, engage, educate etc.

Dear elders, respected brothers and sisters:

We have to learn quickly that just because a certain act of ‘ibadah – and yes it IS ‘ibadah, this work IS ‘ibadah and that’s what our ‘Ulema have 100% confirmed! – that just because this act of worship doesn’t have a label saying Namaz, or Zakah, or Hajj, or Charity, that this is somehow a lesser act of worship.

Tell that to the Hijabi sister getting beaten on the streets. Or the brother rejected at his job-interview because of his beard. Or to the Muslims who have to read that we are the scum of the Earth every single day on the cover of every newspaper, and in the first five top stories of every TV News broadcast.

No. This is blessed work, the work of defending the Deen, defending the Believers, defending the Honour of Allah. And once we act and get busy, Allah will help us as well as He promises:

“O you who believe, If you help aid (the Deen) of Allah, Allah will aid you, and make you stand firm.” (Muhammad, 9)

Please see the posters outside and get involved with the campaigns organised by MEND and others to ensure we make a difference.

Ya Allah, make us from the guided, guide others through us, and make us a reason that others are also guided.

Ya Allah, bless us all with tawfeeq, and give us success over those who wish to harm us and weaken us.

Ya Allah, strengthen this Deen, and its Believers, in our country here and in all parts of the world.