Advocacy group MEND has launched a policy pledge manifesto for Muslim voters and parliamentary candidates that it says reflects the main concerns of the Muslim community ahead of the General Election.
The pledges include commitments on Islamophobia and discrimination, mosque security, media regulation, community engagement and foreign policy.
Commenting on the pledges MEND said: “We are living in an age where politicians have described Muslim women as ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes,’ and where Islamophobic hate crime rose by over 40% in London alone in the year up to January 2018. In this climate of hostility towards Muslim communities, it is incumbent upon all political parties to be aware of the challenges that they face and to ensure that they are fully representing the needs and interests of all of their minority constituents.
“In pursuit of this aim, MEND has published our Policy Pledge Manifesto, which represents the policy positions that resonate with Muslim communities. Indeed, MEND’s manifesto contains policy pledges that have been developed and ratified by our core network of volunteers and staff. As such, our pledges are designed to truly reflect the diversity and interests of our 700 volunteers across the country and the vast number of Muslim communities that they represent.”
MEND says that the Muslim vote is critical in a large number of parliamentary seats so should be a crucial consideration for any political party.
Here is the full list of pledges:
Racial and religious equality
Commit to adopting the definition of Islamophobia produced by the APPG for British Muslims: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness,” and apply this definition in conjunction with the guidelines that MEND has produced.
Commit to a review of the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act with a view to strengthening legal protection afforded to religious communities.
Implement primary legislation to deal with social media offences and hate speech online and commit to working with social media companies to protect free speech while developing an efficient strategy to tackle hate speech online in consultation with Muslim grassroots organisations.
Commit to financing mosque security in a manner that is proportional to risk, in line with what is already correctly provided to Jewish religious institutions.
Youth and education
Commit to prioritising PSRE and PSHE within the National Curriculum and ensure grassroots Muslim organisations are enlisted to assist in developing teaching materials to educate young people on the dangers of Islamophobia.
Commit to supporting academic freedoms and initiatives to decolonise education, whilst giving greater emphasis within the National Curriculum to shared histories and the contributions of minority communities in building our society.
Commit to developing training programmes for teachers focussed on tackling and addressing bullying based on race, religion, disability, or sexuality.
Commit to supporting faith school provisions in the state sector for Muslim pupils and parents.
Commit to implementing Shariah-compliant student loans to encourage more British Muslim students to attend university.
The Labour Market
Commit to tackling religious, racial and gendered discrimination in the workplace through targeted interventions at all stages of recruitment, retention and promotion.
Commit to the use of name-blind applications and targeted interventions within employment aimed at tackling the “triple penalty” and improving access to employment for British Muslim women specifically.
Commit to supporting employers to recognise and accommodate religious festivals and religious observance within the workplace, including the provision of halal meat, prayer rooms, and flexible work hours during Ramadan.
Media and Broadcasting
Commit to the full implementation of the Royal Charter on press regulation.
Commit to the commencement of the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, including an investigation into the prevalence of Islamophobia within the media.
Support initiatives by the broadcasting industry to promote positive portrayals of Muslims in the media.
Crime, Policing, and the Criminal Justice System
Commit to investigating structural Islamophobia within the Criminal Justice System.
Security and Counter-Terror
Commit to independently reviewing all counter- terrorism legislation enacted since 2000 with a view to curbing the encroachment of counter-terrorism policies on civil liberties.
Commit to recognising the role of UK foreign policy in individuals being drawn to political violence.
Commit to proactively engaging and consulting with representative and grassroots organisations within British Muslim communities, including but not limited to Muslim Engagement and Development.
Commit to recognising that Palestinian activism is a legitimate form of political dialogue and commit to protecting the rights of British Muslims to advocate and support Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
Minority rights and integration
Commit to preserving human rights and the protection of minority rights, including, but not limited to, the rights to religious slaughter, male circumcision and the wearing of religious dress or symbols as currently enshrined within UK legislation.
Commit to supporting the protections afforded by the EU Equal Treatment Directive to advance protection against discrimination on the grounds of religion to education, healthcare, housing, access to goods and services and social protection, within UK law post-Brexit.