New briefing on the definition of Islamophobia

11 March 2020

In May 2019, a group of 40 leading experts from a range of religious backgrounds wrote to the government warning it against adopting a proposed definition of Islamophobia.

Although various people have since spoken out in solidarity, including former Home Secretary Sajid Javid, confusion over the definition and its consequences still exists. That’s why we’ve created this helpful new resource, a briefing on the definition of Islamophobia, to help breakdown what the problems are with the proposed definition and suggests what should be done instead. The resource is free to download and print off, and can be sent to local MPs, councils and political organisations.

Defining Islamophobia

The definition of ‘Islamophobia’, as proposed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims in November 2018, has already been adopted by various local councils across the country, and several political parties, including the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National Party.

However, the government has since rejected the definition, instead appointing Imam Qari Asim as an independent adviser to lead the work in proposing a new definition of Islamophobia.

Islamic blasphemy law

The APPG proposed defining Islamophobia as a form of ‘cultural racism’, which, if implemented, would protect Islam and Islamic culture from criticism, creating what would in effect be an Islamic blasphemy law. Government adviser Qari Asim has in the past also spoken of curtailing free speech in order that Islam could not be criticised.

The consequences of adopting this definition are now coming to fruition, most recently with former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, being suspended from the Labour Party for alleged Islamophobia for simply stating facts about Islam.

Tim Dieppe commented on his suspension: “The case of Trevor Phillips is a test case. It has brought to the forefront our predicted concerns about defining Islamophobia. If a public figure like Trevor Phillips isn’t safe from being indicted for Islamophobia, none of us are.”

What should be done?

This new briefing lays out clearly the problems with defining Islamophobia and instead suggests that the term ‘Anti-Muslim’ would suffice. Laws against religiously motivated hate crimes already exist and are sufficient. Free speech and debate over ideas, philosophies and ideologies should never be curtailed and are protected in law.

Download the resource for free to share with your MP and local councillors.

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