Muslim coppers urge police to drop the term ‘Islamist’

The National Association of Muslim Police (NAMP) is calling on the Home Office and Police to update counter terrorism terminology by dropping terms such as “Islamist” and “Islamism.”

The organisation said that Counter Terrorism Policing frequently uses terms like “Islamist” and “Islamism” to describe extremist ideology akin to groups such as Daesh or Al Qaeda.

The demand comes after a NAMP survey in 2020 found that 85 per cent of Muslim police respondents and 92 per cent of Muslim community respondents believed that the use of such terminology had a direct link to Islamophobic sentiment, both within the Police Service as well as in communities.

NAMP says there is an overwhelming belief that this creates negative bias and stigma through associating Islam with extremism and singling out the term “Islam” in a manner that is not consistent across other forms of extremism.

This leaves many Muslims feeling marginalised, vulnerable and at a higher risk of hate crime and discrimination, NAMP said.

Research from NAMP specifically identified three areas of concern, emanating from the use of this terminology – increased levels of Islamophobia, greater risks of radicalisation, and lower levels of trust and confidence.

“Daesh Inspired Terrorism,” “Irhabism,” and “Anti-Western Extremism” are some alternative terms which have been suggested by NAMP to replace “Islamism” and “Jihadism.”

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This appeal comes as recent Home Office crime statistics for England and Wales revealed that religious hate crime increased by 37 per cent between March 2021 and March 2022 (from 6,383 to 8,730).

More importantly, where the perceived religion of the victim was recorded, 42 per cent of all religious hate crimes were targeted against Muslims, accounting for 3,459 offences.

Alexander Gent, Chair of NAMP, said: “Islamophobia is a significant issue, and the continued use of these terms will reinforce negative stereotypes and discrimination that affect both communities and those working in the Police Service itself.

“Whilst many people understand and support dialogue, we believe institutional Islamophobia is a problem and we strongly urge the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and police forces, to recognise the gravity of this issue, the negative impact it causes and to seek ways to address our concerns.”

A spokesperson for Counter Terrorism Policing said: “We are aware of and understand the concerns raised by the National Association of Muslim Police and have already committed to work with them, and the Home Office, in relation to the issues raised.

“The recently announced review of HM Government’s Contest strategy creates the opportunity to examine further the terminology used across the UK’s counter terrorism system.”

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