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Leeds Council Adopts Definition for Islamophobia, Fights Prejudice

Hoping to counter anti-Muslim prejudice, which is on the rise, the Leeds City Council has adopted a specific definition for Islamophobia, in a decision hailed as a “big step in the right direction.”

The definition followed a report published last week which showed nearly half of Leeds Muslims don’t feel treated as equal citizens.

With some people citing lack of faith in police and fear of repercussions, two thirds of those who faced Islamophobic attacks didn’t report it.

📚 Read Also: Muslim MPs: UK Gov’t Not Giving Islamophobia Proper Attention

“Given the rising hate crime against Muslims, and in particular against some of the most vulnerable members of the community, this is welcomed,” said Councillor Mohammed Rafique, The Telegraph & Argus reported.

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“I hope this is one big step in the right direction. Obviously there’s a lot more work still to be done.”

📚 Read Also:  UK Muslim Youth ‘Suffocated, Angry at Racism’: Report

All Forms of Racism

The Labour-run council has used the term ‘anti-Muslim prejudice’, instead of Islamophobia, to incorporate all forms of racism towards Muslims.

Councillor Salma Arif said the report detailing the extent of hatred towards the community was “sobering to read.”

“But I’m afraid it’s not entirely surprising as someone who comes from a Muslim faith,” she added.

“I know a lot off Muslims in the city will welcome the adoption of this definition.”

The new policy received cross-party support from opposition groups.

Conservative councillor Ryan Stephenson said: “One would hope you’d never need a policy like this, but sadly we do.”

The road towards Islamophobia definition started in 2019 when Leeds appointed Qari Asim MBE of Leeds Makkah Mosque as an “independent adviser” to provide “expert advice on a definition of Islamophobia.” 

In November 2018, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims defined Islamophobia as: “rooted in racism and a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

But the government said the definition was too vague and could undermine efforts to tackle extremism, unleashing anger of lawmakers who criticized the decision.