Islamophobia defined as a “form of racism”

A cross-party Parliamentary group has come up with a definition of Islamophobia that it hopes will be widely adopted by the state and civil society.

After a year-long consultation, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, which is composed of Members of both the House of Commons and Lords, came up with the following definition in their report Islamophobia Defined:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

The group said that examples of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in encounters between religions and non-religions in the public sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism, and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.
  • Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
  • Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims.
  • Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying Muslim populations the right to self- determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, eg loyalty tests.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia (e.g. Muhammed being a paedophile, claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule) to characterize Muslims as being ‘sex groomers’, inherently violent or incapable of living harmoniously in plural societies.
  • Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.

Following the launch of the report, The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) welcomes the definition and said it aligned with three essential principles it had previously set out: that Islamophobia is a form of racism; Islamophobia is more than just anti-Muslim hatred or bigotry; and that some people may hide behind “criticism of Islam” when engaging in Islamophobia.

It said the proposed definition also has strong support amongst academics and from many Muslims across the United Kingdom.

Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Today is a significant moment as a definition of Islamophobia has been agreed between parliamentarians, academics and many from Muslim communities. As more and more Muslim communities share their support, we hope the government will listen to Muslim communities and adopt this definition in the coming days and weeks.”

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