London: MCB, parliamentarians discuss how to tackle Islamophobia
‘The formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia would be a crucial step and one that would inspire confidence in Muslim communities’
The Muslim Council of Britain hosted a special closed-meeting to discuss the growing spate of attacks in all its forms against British Muslims on March 3rd at the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons.
The event entitled ‘Tackling Islamophobia: Reducing Street Violence Against British Muslims’ brought together distinguished Parliamentarians, academics, journalists, police, public servants, and community representatives who all endorsed calls for the establishment of an All-Party Parliamentary Committee on Islamophobia with a view to holding a parliamentary inquiry on Islamophobia in the UK.
The meeting took contributions from experts and responses from parliamentarians and was concluded with a Q&A session with the audience who comprised of individuals from over 80 organisations.
Mohammad Sarwar MP who sponsored the event said 'Islamophobia is a big challenge' and offered his full support for an All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Internationally renowned journalist and political commentator Peter Oborne said ‘tolerance defines our constitution and the British people. If the UK is to live up to its tradition of tolerance, this needs to be taken seriously. Islamophobia needs to be abolished'. He added that the committee had a 'big job to do'. Mr Oborne previously presented a Dispatches programme on Channel 4 in July 2008 called It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim where he argued that the demonisation of Muslims has become widespread in British media and politics.
Robin Richardson former director of the Runnymede Trust who was the Editor of the groundbreaking report Islamophobia: a challenge for us all (published in 1997), highlighted the various forms which encompass Islamophobia: ‘discourse, violent behaviour, discrimination and social exclusion.'
Dr Phyllis Starkey MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee fully endorsed the initiative and emphasised the importance of focusing on 'respect' as opposed to 'tolerance'.
Shadow Minister for Justice, David Burrows MP urged people to contact their local MPs to motivate them to get more involved. ‘The community must show the extent of the problem and make politicians act’.
In his keynote address, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain said ‘at a time when Muslim communities are being exhorted to do more to tackle violence by a handful of extremists who purport to be Muslims, it is vitally important that our government and police are equally pro-active in seeking to tackle extremist violence against British Muslims and the Islamophobic climate that gives rise to it.’
He added, ‘the need for fair and equal treatment for British Muslims is even more pressing because many Muslims do not have sufficient confidence to report attacks against them to the police. There is therefore an urgent need to restore Muslim community confidence to tackle the problem of under-reporting of violent crime in much the same way as has been achieved with other minorities in the recent past. Time has come for politicians to finally take this issue as seriously as racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia’.
He ended by saying ‘the formation of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes would be a crucial step and one that would inspire confidence in Muslim communities’.
Source: MCB (English), h/t RR