Call for new definition of ‘Islamophobia’ in UK

Updated 15 November 2017
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Call for new definition of ‘Islamophobia’ in UK

LONDON: The UK government should redefine the term “Islamophobia” as “anti-Muslim racism,” according to the think-tank Runnymede Trust in a new report.

A lack of clarity around the meaning of the word is hindering efforts to design policies that could prevent the discrimination of Muslims in the UK, whether it be in the workplace or as a victim of hate crime, the report found.

“At the moment people don’t have clarity over what it is (so) it is difficult for them to tackle it and for policies to be formulated to address it in a concrete way,” said Farah Elahi, research and policy analyst at Runnymede, speaking on the BBC 4 Today programme on Nov. 14 following the publication of the report.

The recommendation formed part of a wider report, released on the 20th anniversary of Runnymede’s first paper on the subject in 1997, in which it is credited for coining the term “Islamophobia.”

The new report includes case studies on the impact of Islamophobia on individual’s lives, including a nurse who faces daily racist and Islamophobic abuse from patients and a molecular geneticist who was advised that her CV was too “Islamic” for her to get an job interview.

“This a really important and timely report, especially post-Brexit where we have seen a significant increase in anti-Muslim hostility,” Imran Awan, associate professor in criminology at Birmingham City University and author of one of the report’s chapters, told Arab News.

Following the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester earlier this year, there was a noticeable spike in hate crime and anti-Muslim attacks.

According to London’s Metropolitan Police, recorded incidents of Islamophobic crime jumped to 365 in June from 87 in April. While reported incidents dropped back to 117 in September, overall Islamophobic crime this year to September is 23.71 percent up on the previous year in London.

“I hope the report will be used by policymakers in agreeing upon a definition of Islamophobia that recognizes this as racism. It’s also important because we need to understand the drivers of hate crime and it’s impacts on communities,” Awan said.

The report also looks at the impact of Islamophobia in the workforce. The report recommends employers to adopt policies such as name-blind CVs and publishing pay gaps, to ensure Muslims are given equal opportunity to seek and gain employment.

Runnymede called for an independent inquiry into the government’s counter-terrorism strategy and questioned the effectiveness of the “Prevent” policy. It said there is “substantial evidence” that the current policy is “discriminatory, disproportionate and counterproductive.”

“Given the mounting evidence, the independent review must answer whether the Prevent strategy should be withdrawn and how to better separate the state’s security apparatus from wider safeguarding or social policy strategies,” the report said.


Civilian killings spark protests in Kashmir

Indian police try to arrest senior seperatist leader Yasin Malik, second left, during a protest march in Srinagar on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 13 min 47 sec ago
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Civilian killings spark protests in Kashmir

  • Kumar called on Pakistan to take credible action against all kinds of support for terrorism” within its own borders, “rather than supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbors

NEW DELHI: Daisy Begum is inconsolable, waiting with bated breath for her son Aqib Malik, 16, to come out of the intensive care unit of Srinagar’s Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital, where he has been in critical condition since Sunday.
Malik is one of several young men who were seriously injured on Sunday in the village of Larnoo, 75 km south of the city of Srinagar, by explosives and munitions left behind by Indian security forces after an encounter with militants.
Seven civilians were killed and more than 40 injured by shrapnel when locals gathered to see the site where the encounter took place.
“The blast occurred minutes after people gathered outside the house where the encounter took place,” Malik’s father told Arab News.
“Those who were inside their houses remained safe, but those who went outside became casualties.”
He blamed the police, asking: “How did this unfortunate incident happen? Isn’t this a deliberate attempt to scare people by hurting them?”
Dilbagh Singh, director general of police, said: “People, especially youths, should avoid going to gunfight sites or touching debris. We express sympathy with the families who lost their kin in the incident.”
Police on Tuesday arrested separatist leader Yasin Malik and his supporters in Srinagar when they tried to organize a protest march.
And leaders of the National Conference (NC), one of the mainstream political parties in Kashmir, were stopped when they came out to protest against the civilian killings.
“The government wants to suppress the voice of the people by putting restrictions on our rally,” Ali Mohammad Sagar, an NC leader, told Arab News.
He blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government for “targeting the common people with bullets,” adding: “You can win people with love, not by destruction. It’s only through dialogue that matters can be resolved.”
BJP spokesman Altaf Thakur blamed separatists and opposition parties for “politicizing the incident,” telling Arab News: “We’re also pained by the incident, but those who are trying to gain political mileage out of the tragedy are playing with the blood of the innocent victims.” He added: “People should understand that the encounter site isn’t a playground for kids.”
Kashmir-based civil rights activist Khurram Parvez questioned the “impunity” enjoyed by security forces, which “have never been held accountable for extrajudicial killings and gross human rights violations.”
He blamed the BJP government for “pursuing a militaristic policy in Kashmir for electoral gains,” telling Arab News: “It’s a shame, for a country that boasts about being a democracy and a secular nation, if people are being lured by militaristic policies toward Kashmiris who happen to be Muslim.”
Journalist Manzoor-ul-Hassan, who visited the site of the incident, told Arab News: “There’s palpable anger among people. They hold security forces responsible for killing innocent civilians. It shows how casually Indian security forces take the lives of people in Kashmir.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned “the new cycle of killings of innocent Kashmiris... by Indian security forces.”
He tweeted: “It’s time India realize it must move to resolve the Kashmir dispute through dialogue in accordance with the UNSC (UN Security Council) resolutions & the wishes of the Kashmiri people.”
Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry, called the tweet “deeply regrettable” and urged the Pakistani leadership to “look inwards and address its own issues.”
Kumar called on Pakistan to take “credible action against all kinds of support for terrorism” within its own borders, “rather than supporting and glorifying terrorists and terror activities against India and its other neighbors.”