Govt calls Islamophobia definition ‘not fit for purpose’

10 September 2021

Paul Huxley reviews the Westminster Hall debate on an Islamophobia definition, held on 9 September 2021.

Speaking for the government, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Eddie Hughes has rejected the APPG definition of Islamophobia, describing it as “not fit for purpose”.

The speaking time at the Westminster Hall debate, held on 9 September, was dominated by MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, which is behind the proposed definition.

All MPs recognised the hostility Muslims can face in Britain, some like Zarah Sultana speaking from personal experience. No Christian should be content to hear some of the abuse that is sometimes directed towards Muslims, and in some instances, those who are presumed to be Muslims. Those in favour of adopting the definition, pressed the need to define ‘Islamophobia’ as a crucial step towards stopping these incidents.

But the APPG definition of Islamophobia – and even the term itself – is deeply flawed, as Tim Dieppe and a wider group of religious and secular experts has shown.

Eddie Hughes, representing the government, responded to the debate making similar points. He consistently used the phrase ‘anti-Muslim hatred’, which correctly draws the focus towards the abuse of Muslims, rather than criticism of Islam.

He said:

“We believe that the definition proposed by the APPG for British Muslims, although well supported, is not fit for purpose, and that, if adopted, it would create significant practical and legal issues. Islam is a religion that includes a wide range of races and thus stating, as the definition does, that Islamophobia is a type of racism is incorrect and conflates religion with race.”

He added:

“A poll by the organisation Muslim Census found that only 21% of Muslims polled agreed with the APPG definition, primarily due to the confusion it creates between race and religion. The report says:

For attacks on Muslims and Islam to be dealt with appropriately, selecting a definition that the majority of Muslims agree with is vital. The findings of our survey suggest that the APPG definition does not have the backing of the community.”

Concluding, he renewed the government’s commitment to finding a “robust and effective definition” that would defend free speech, including criticism of Islam and Muhammad, saying that the government would outline its steps to achieve it in due course.

Christians, and others who are sceptical of Islam’s claims, must be free to share their views if we are not to impose a de facto Islamic blasphemy law.

If we really want to tackle incidents like this, their needs to be a revival of people learning to love their neighbours, even if they’re different to them. Nothing will be more effective to achieve that than people nationwide embracing and following Jesus Christ.

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