A group of British Parliamentarians have demanded “Islamophobia” be officially classed as a form of racism in the UK, claiming the country is deeply prejudiced and unfair towards Muslims.
The new parliamentary report blames “prevalent” Islamophobia for divisions, hate crimes, and even terror attacks. It also appears to reject claims criminalising comments about Islam will restrict free speech and calls for an official definition of “Islamophobia.”
Examples of “Islamophobia” listed including claiming it is terrorism to support an independent Palestine, calling Muhammad a paedophile, and “claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating minority groups under their rule.”
I'll stand with anyone in opposing anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry, but 'Islamophobia' is a slippery word. This definition risks capturing anyone who criticises 'expressions of Muslimness'. https://t.co/ftf0d22gkT
— Stephen Evans (@Stephenmevans1) November 27, 2018
The document comes from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims, which is led by leading anti-Brexit Tory MP Anna Soubry.
Tory Peer Baroness Warsi, the group’s Treasurer, commented on the document release: “Islamophobia is a form of racism – like antisemitism it’s time it got its own definition.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting added: “Islamophobia isn’t just anti-Muslim hatred. It’s about everyday discrimination that takes place — targeting Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. It is rooted in racism and is a type of racism. It can be deliberate or unconscious bias.”
The findings were also backed by the Muslim Council of Britain, linked to the pro-Caliphate Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which was recently criticised for working with groups calling for apostates to be killed.
'The report by @APPGBritMuslims is clear, Islamophobia is not about shutting down debate on Islam but about the protection of British Muslims.' @SayeedaWarsi #IslamophobiaDefined pic.twitter.com/CLp2Qr5zZ4
— British Muslims (@APPGBritMuslims) November 27, 2018
When consultation for the report was launched, a UKIP spokesman criticised the parliamentary group for taking evidence from groups allegedly linked to Islamism and extremism and “making rules and definitions which are likely to curtail the freedoms which have been hard-won over centuries of British history.”
The document also claims Muslims are widely oppressed in the UK and blames British society for Muslims not being as economically successful as some other groups.
It says: “British society at large, by virtue of normalised prejudice against Muslim beliefs and practice, have come to imbibe a panoply of falsehoods or misrepresentations and discriminatory outlooks.”
Adding: “Academic research has consistently shown that British Muslims face considerably high levels of economic disadvantage than other groups in Britain.”
The report acknowledges that many groups, including some feminist organisations and the National Secular Society, are generally against the use of the term “Islamophobia” as it is frequently used to silence criticism of Islamic ideology and extremism.
Parliament Offers ‘Islamist’ Group Opportunity to Create Official ‘Islamophobia’ Definition https://t.co/T5gAK1qbVi
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 24, 2018
However, the report cites other arguments from Oxford University student Bertie Vidgen, that “giving up the term Islamophobia – and with it the possibility of creating legal instruments to tackle it – simply because of the perceived risk that may limit free speech would be highly misguided.”
University lecturer Ben Whitham highlights “the concept of inseparability of race and religion, whereby an attack on the religion cannot be separated from an attack on the race,” the report also says.
A similar APPG on British Muslims was launched in 2010 but was forced to re-launch the following year after a Tory MP and Labour Peer quit when “Islamist sympathisers” iENGAGE, which had repeatedly defended extremists, were made the group’s secretariat and given parliamentary passes.
iENGAGE has since rebranded as MEND, and a report last year found they still promote “extremism,” harbour anti-Semites, and give a platform to Islamist views, including promoting false claims of “Islamophobia.”