LONDON – British Muslim organizations and councils across the UK are calling the political party leaders to adopt a newly proposed definition of Islamophobia. The demand is made through co-signed open letters published earlier this week. The Guardian reported on December 1.
“For our communities, it was vital that the definition encapsulated the racialized reality of Islamophobia and its many manifestations over and above mere anti-Muslim hatred. In addition, we believed it was important that the definition provided space for criticism of Islam that didn’t use the language of racism to target expressions of Muslimness. This definition protects these important principles,” the letters read.
The definition of Islamophobia was set out in a report published by a cross-party group of MPs last week. According to the report, “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”
The call of the Muslim organizations comes after over 70 academics publicly endorsed the proposed definition, including some of the most senior respected scholars in the field.
Moreover, a campaign was launched in support of the definition includes the example of a Muslim mother who was allegedly attacked by three women “for wearing a headscarf” as she walked to a primary school in south London.
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Muslim organizations from different parts of the country and different backgrounds have come together to make a resounding call on our political leaders to adopt this definition. We hope that they all understand the importance of listening to communities, and look forward to their positive response.”
Rise of Islamophobic Terrorism
Even though, a Home Office minister said earlier that the department had no intention of adopting a definition, in response to a question from one of the chairs of the cross-party group, the Conservative MP Anna Soubry.
Victoria Atkins told the Commons in March that there were “many definitions of Islamophobia”, but added: “We don’t accept the need for a definitive definition, but we know that Islamophobia is clearly recognized and that we have very effective monitoring systems of all race-hate crimes.”
In recent years there has been a significant increase in anti-Muslim hate crime in the UK with 2017 having a record number of Islamophobic attacks.
Tell Mama, a multi-faith monitoring group, recorded over 1,200 reports of Islamophobic incidents, a 26-percent surge from the previous year.
The UK last month reported a 17% increase in hate crimes over the past year, with 94,098 incidents recorded by police, up from about 40,000 reported in 2012.
Islam is the second largest religion in the UK with results from the 2011 Census giving as much as 2,786,635, 4.4% of the total population.