A minister has called for the Government to introduce a new religious discrimination law which would require public bodies to have a legal duty to promote equality between faiths, to reassure Britain's Muslims that they are not second-class citizens.
Sadiq Khan, a government whip, wants a forthcoming Single Equality Bill aimed at stamping out discrimination on grounds of sex, race, gender and disability to include religion. He also calls for "Islamophobia in the workplace" to be tackled.
Under his proposal, public bodies would have to be proactive in tackling religious discrimination. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, chaired by Trevor Phillips, would issue guidance and codes of practice. "This would not apply exclusively to British Muslims, but it would make a significant difference to the experience of members of this community who, because of socio-economic status, are particularly reliant on public services," Mr Khan says.
The Tooting MP, one of four Muslim Labour MPs, makes his controversial call in a Fabian Society pamphlet, Fairness not Favours, published today. He says a proactive approach to prevent religious discrimination would balance "harder edged" measures such as "clampdowns" on immigration and security and undercut attempts by Muslim extremists to exploit social disadvantage.
Mr Khan wants to break down religious barriers and argues strongly that Britain's Muslims must change, too. He urges them to forget about the Iraq war; give their women more freedom and use their charities to help white poor people. He also calls for imams to stress the importance of parental participation in schools and says everyone should learn English.
Source: Independent (English)