November marks Islamophobia Awareness Month and presents an important opportunity to raise awareness of the discrimination experienced by Muslims and those of Islamic faith, and to highlight the positive contribution of British Muslims to our society.
Last week, I was pleased to attend an event in Parliament organised by Afzal Khan MP, Labour MP for Manchester Gorton about islamophobia – and why it’s vital the UK Government adopts the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims definition of islamophobia, adopted by the Labour Party but so far, not by the UK Government.
Islamophobia is a pervasive hatred in our society which manifests in violent hate crimes, targeted discrimination, and loss of opportunity for many Muslims.
Unfortunately, Islamophobia is on the rise across Britain. Year after year, British Muslims are victims of the highest proportion of religiously motivated hate crime. This trend shows no sign of abating under the Conservative Government.
To tackle such insidious hatred, we must first be able to name it. But the Government has continuously refused to use the widely accepted term Islamophobia and insists instead on describing this phenomenon as “anti-Muslim hatred.”
The continued presence of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party suggests that they are at best complacent and at worst in denial. It is no wonder then, that the Government continues to drag its feet on tackling Islamophobia more widely.
Violent incidents targeting Muslims in the UK rose by 375% after Boris Johnson’s use of despicable language in describing women wearing the veil (niqab) as looking like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.
Our choice of language matters, and the Prime Minister’s personal history of Islamophobic and vile language has set the tone for this Government’s indifferent approach to tackling this issue.
Earlier this year, the Singh Review revealed the extent of institutional failings within the Conservative Party in its handling of Islamophobic complaints. The review received widespread criticism for being a whitewashed investigation and criticism from its own ranks. The review itself did not consult a single Conservative Muslim member.
Despite this, the Prime Minister has still not issued a full and proper public apology that acknowledged the pain and hurt he has caused in the Muslim community.