MEND – which works towards enhancing the engagement of British Muslims in national life – has launched a “Muslim Manifesto” to encourage Muslims to vote in the upcoming general election.
The manifesto highlights a range of policy areas that matter to/have an impact on British Muslims and on which specific policy demands are presented for the betterment of the community and its needs.
It has been developed to encourage British Muslim participation in the general election by making policy initiatives and their impact more amenable to Muslim voters.
The Ethnic Minority British Election Study from the 2010 general election found that Muslims are less likely than other minority groups to be registered to vote.
There are however, a good number of parliamentary constituencies in which Muslims constitute a sizable proportion of the local population ranging from 15% to over 50%.
MEND is not urging Muslims to vote for any one political party but is highlighting areas of interest which they call “policy pledges”. These include:
– A commitment to a review the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act and to introduce legislation to extend legal protection to cover religion, homophobia and disability hate crime.
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– A commitment to record Islamophobia as a category of hate crime by all police forces in England and Wales.
– Working with social media companies to protect free speech while developing good guidelines to tackle hate speech online.
– A commitment to develop teaching materials to educate young people on Islamophobia, racism and anti-Semitism; to fund projects to promote educational programmes on Islam awareness; to prioritise religious education in the national curriculum to prepare young people for life in a religiously plural society.
– A commitment to strengthening powers of teachers to deal with racist and Islamophobic bullying in schools; support the education sector in developing Islamophobia awareness programmes for teaching staff to equip them with skills to identify and tackle hate incidents in schools.
– A commitment to tackling religious discrimination in the workplace and address the low level of economic activity among Muslims through targeted interventions at stages of recruitment, retention and promotion; improving access to employment for British Muslim women.
– A commitment to media reform and the full implementation of the Royal Charter on a Leveson compliant regulator; support industry initiatives to promote positive, diverse representations of Muslims and minorities in the mainstream media.
– A commitment to offering shari’ah compliant student loans to make higher and further education accessible to British Muslims; support the growth of the shari’ah compliant financial services industry.
– A commitment to preserving the Human Rights Act and the protection of minority rights including rights to religious slaughter, circumcision and wearing of religious dress or symbols.
– A commitment to fostering social cohesion and community resilience to all forms of extremism; support de-radicalisation programmes that work with Muslim communities not against them.
– A commitment to support for an independent Palestine and end of Israeli occupation by December 2017.