Anas Sarwar urges Government to define Islamophobia
Categories: Latest News
Friday June 29 2018
The National reports on how Anas Sarwar, Labour MSP, has called for the Government to work quickly towards adopting a legal definition for “Islamophobia”.
Mr Sarwar made national headlines early this year, 2018, when he spoke out about the racist and Islamophobic abuse he faced by other Labour Party members. He currently chairs the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia.
Having given evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, as part of the group’s call to evidence for a “working definition of Islamophobia”, Mr Sarwar stated that if the British Muslim community, the APPG and the Government failed to define “Islamophobia” then it risked “allowing those with ill-intent to define it for us”.
He added that: “It’s also important to define Islamophobia so there is a clear reference point for the legal system when considering any hate crime or incitement cases…[it] will help to demonstrate to our diverse communities that we as lawmakers recognise Islamophobia exists and that it will be challenged”.
He further noted: “Once we can move past the debates on whether Islamophobia exists or not and what it means or how it manifests itself, we can then focus on debating how it is challenged. It will help focus minds on the solutions rather just on the problems”.
MEND re-affirms and supports Mr Sarwar’s concerns for the crucial need to define Islamophobia.
Currently there are various groups which actively seek to underplay the severity and the manifestations of systemic Islamophobia in our society, with various far-right groups and notable politicians denying its existence.
It is crucial that the Government takes seriously the threat Islamophobia poses to the British Muslim community and acknowledges that this is not just manifested when a far-right terrorist drives a van into a crowd of Muslim worshippers but also through more subtle ways. Indeed, Islamophobia manifests itself when CVs are disregarded because they boast a Muslim name, or when promotions are not awarded to competent but visibly Muslim employees, or when Muslim students feel unable to voice opinions for fear of being flagged by PREVENT.
MEND recently, on the 26th of June, held a parliamentary event discussing the various manifestations of Islamophobia and launched our report: “More than words: Approaching a definition of Islamophobia”, which gives MEND’s suggested definition for the term “Islamophobia”.
MEND’s suggested (short) definition for “Islamophobia” is:
“Islamophobia is a prejudice, aversion, hostility, or hatred towards Muslims and encompasses any distinction, exclusion, restriction, discrimination, or preference against Muslims that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life”.
It is imperative that the Government quickly acquires a legal definition for Islamophobia and provides much-needed clarity in legislation and policies that are intended to protect the British Muslim community.