Sir David Attenborough sounds fresh call to save plant life with BBC production ‘The Green Planet’ TV series

Legendary English naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s five-part BBC series “The Green Planet” premiers in the Middle East on Jan. 10. (Supplied/BBC)
Legendary English naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s five-part BBC series “The Green Planet” premiers in the Middle East on Jan. 10. (Supplied/BBC)
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Updated 05 January 2022

Sir David Attenborough sounds fresh call to save plant life with BBC production ‘The Green Planet’ TV series

Legendary English naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s five-part BBC series “The Green Planet” premiers in the Middle East on Jan. 10. (Supplied/BBC)
  • Legendary English naturalist’s five-part BBC series premiers in the Middle East on Jan. 10
  • “The Green Planet” series comes as many of the planet’s ecosystems stand on the brink of collapse

BOGOTA: Towering more than 250 feet above the forest floor, the sequoia trees of California are the biggest living things on the planet.

It is while standing at the foot of one of these 3,000-year-old giants that English broadcaster and natural historian Sir David Attenborough opens his new series, “The Green Planet,” which will be broadcast in the Middle East on BBC Earth on beIN from Jan. 10.

“Plants, whether they are enormous like this one or microscopic, are the basis of all life, including ourselves,” the 95-year-old broadcaster says in the opening minutes of the first episode, titled “Tropical.”

“We depend upon them for every mouthful of food that we eat and every lungful of air that we breathe,” he continues. “Plants flourish in remarkable ways. Yet, for the most part, the secrets of their world have been hidden from us. Until now.”

The five-part BBC production claims to offer a fresh look at the extraordinary world of plants. To do this, it is said to have used an array of pioneering technologies, from robotic rigs and drone cams to moving time-lapse photography, super-detailed thermal cameras, deep-focus macro frame-stacking, ultra-high-speed photography and the latest in microscopy.

The result is a series that transforms the seemingly static world of trees and plants into a dynamic journey through a parallel universe in which plants are as aggressive, competitive and dramatic as wild animals, locked in a life-or-death struggle for food, light and procreation.



One sequence in the opening episode features time-lapse footage of leafcutter ants demolishing the succulent leaves sprouting from a branch and carting them off to their underground lair, where a giant fungus waits to feast on the mulch. The ants are rewarded for their efforts by the fungus with a steady supply of tiny mushrooms.

The sequence depicting this strange symbiosis was filmed over a period of three weeks deep in the Costa Rican rainforest, where the camera operators wrestled their heavy equipment through dense jungle, braving bouts of torrential rain.

Sir David speaking during an event to launch the UN’s Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London in February 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

According to producers, the weather was not the only challenge they had to overcome. A team filming sequences in Borneo, for example, faced their share of adversity after accidentally disturbing a nest of Asian giant hornets, resulting in some nasty stings.

Later in the series, Sir David himself fell foul of an especially prickly cactus known as cholla. Even though he was wearing a Kevlar under-glove with a welding mitt on top, the plant’s dense rosette of spines was able to pierce the protection.

In another scene from episode one, viewers encounter a species of bat that, in a similar way to the ants and their friendly fungus, exists in perfect symbiosis with a night-blooming flower. It offers the small mammals exclusive dibs on its precious nectar in exchange for their services as pollinators-in-chief.

Viewers are also introduced to a rather repulsive-looking, meter-wide parasitic plant known as the corpse flower, which imitates both the appearance and stench of rotting meat — complete with fur and teeth — to attract pollinating flies.

Behind the scences. Camera operator Oliver Mueller uses a specially built robotic camera system, known as the Triffid, to film the corpse flower (Rafflesia keithii), Borneo. (Supplied/BBC)

Covering 27 countries and produced over a period of four years, “The Green Planet” claims to provide the first comprehensive look at the world of plants since Sir David’s previous series, “The Private Life of Plants,” was broadcast 26 years ago.

“In ‘Private Life of Plants’ we were stuck with all this very heavy, primitive equipment, but now we can take the cameras anywhere we like,” Sir David said in a recent interview.

“So you now have the ability to go into a real forest, you can see a plant growing with its neighbors, fighting its neighbors, or moving with its neighbors or dying. And that, in my view, is what brings the thing to life and which should make people say, ‘Good lord, these extraordinary organisms are just like us.’”

Over the course of the series, Sir David traveled to the US, Costa Rica, Croatia and northern Europe, from deserts to mountains, rainforests to the frozen north, to create a fresh understanding of how plants live their lives, experience the seasons and interact with the animal world — including humanity.

Behind the scences. Team doctor, Dr Patrick Avery, in a canopy tram in Costa Rica with Sir David and drone pilot Louis Rummer-Downing. Patrick has just launched a drone carrying a camera, which will film David’s journey through the canopy. (Supplied/BBC)

The timing of the broadcast of “The Green Planet” could not be more critical, coming as it does just as many of the world’s ecosystems appear close to collapse, with climate change, deforestation and pollution causing ever-more extreme weather events and the loss of precious biodiversity.

In the Middle East, for instance, where temperatures regularly top 40 C for several months of the year, experts warn that climate change could soon render parts of the region uninhabitable for humans.

In response to the looming challenge, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have launched renewable-energy initiatives, embracing green fuels such as wind, solar and hydrogen power. Both nations also participated enthusiastically in COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

The previous month, Saudi Arabia launched its Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, committing the Kingdom to reaching net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2060, and to planting 10 billion trees over the coming decades, rehabilitating 8 million hectares of degraded land and establishing new protected areas.

Behind the scenes. Sir David standing amoungst Giant Sequoias,Sequoiadendron giganteum, the largest trees in the world. California, USA. (Supplied/BBC)

Sir David addressed world leaders during COP26 to press home the need to drastically reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and prevent increases in global temperatures exceeding 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels.

“Perhaps the fact that the people most affected by climate change are no longer some imaginary future generations but young people alive today … perhaps that will give us the impetus we need to rewrite our story, to turn this tragedy into a triumph,” he told delegates.

“Our burning of fossil fuels, our destruction of nature, our approach to industry, construction and learning are releasing carbon into the atmosphere at an unprecedented pace and scale. We are already in trouble. The stability we all depend on is breaking.”

Sir David ought to know. During a career spanning almost seven decades, in which he has presented some of the most memorable nature documentaries ever filmed, he has witnessed this progressive destruction firsthand.

Clockwise from bottom: Khasi family using a living root bridge. Meghalaya, India; Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea), Sonoran desert, Arizona. A mature saguaro can store 5000 litres of water; and Winter in the Boreal Forests of Finland. Spruce, Pine and Birch dominate this landscape. (Supplied/BBC)

In 1937, when he was 11 years old, the population of the world stood at 2.3 billion, and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere at 280 parts per million. Today there are almost 7.8 billion people on the planet and the level of carbon in the atmosphere stands at about 415 parts per million.

Sir David joined the BBC in 1952 as a trainee producer. While working on a series called “Zoo Quest,” between 1954 and 1964, he was given his first opportunity to visit remote corners of the globe and capture footage of wildlife in its natural habitats.

He left filmmaking behind in 1965 to become the controller of BBC2, during which time he helped to introduce color television to the UK, before serving as director of programs for BBC Television.

But in 1973 he decided to quit the administrative side of television and return to making documentaries.

Clockwise from L: A Giant Sequoia, Sequoiadendron giganteum, the largest trees on Earth; flowers of the ‘7-hour flower’, Merinthopodium neuranthom, are pollinated by Underwood's Long-tongued Bat (Hylonycteris underwoodi); and Giant Water Lily, Victoria species, in the Pantanal region of Brazil. (Supplied/BBC/Paul Williams)

He soon established himself as Britain’s best-known natural history programmer, presenting the “Life on Earth” in 1979 and “The Blue Planet” in 2001.

It is as a result of this lifetime of filmmaking, and of course his gentle and instantly recognizable narration, that Sir David now stands at the forefront of issues related to conservation and the planet’s declining species — and is considered a British national treasure.

“The world has suddenly become plant-conscious,” he said recently. “There has been a revolution worldwide in attitudes toward the natural world in my lifetime. An awakening and an awareness of how important the natural world is to us all. An awareness that we would starve without plants, we wouldn’t be able to breathe without plants.”

Sir David believes the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resultant lockdowns, encouraged people to pay closer attention to the plant life around them.


Sir David now stands at the forefront of issues related to conservation and the planet’s declining species — and is considered a British national treasure. (AFP/File Photos)

“I think that being shut up and confined to one’s garden, if one is lucky enough to have a garden — and if not, to having plants sitting on a shelf — has changed people’s perspective and an awareness of another world that exists to which we hardly ever pay attention,” he said.

So, what does he hope audiences will take from “The Green Planet”?

“That there is a parallel world on which we depend and which, up to now, we have largely ignored, if I speak on behalf of urbanized man,” he said.

“Over half the population of the world, according to the UN, are urbanized, live in cities, only see cultivated plants and never see a wild community of plants.

“But that wild community is there, outside urban circumstances normally, and we depend upon it. And we better jolly well care for it.”

Pakistani family reunion shattered after dad killed in Houthi attack on UAE

Pakistani family reunion shattered after dad killed in Houthi attack on UAE
Updated 16 sec ago

Pakistani family reunion shattered after dad killed in Houthi attack on UAE

Pakistani family reunion shattered after dad killed in Houthi attack on UAE
  • Mamoor Khan died in Iran-backed Houthi drone, missile strike on Abu Dhabi
  • Family was awaiting his homecoming for January vacation

Mamoor Khan’s family members had been eagerly awaiting his homecoming to the northern Pakistan town of Mir Ali. But days before the planned reunion, his body arrived from the UAE, leaving relatives numbed by shock and grief.

Khan and two Indian nationals were killed when drone and missile strikes launched by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen hit fuel trucks near storage facilities of state oil giant ADNOC in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 17. Khan had been working as a driver for an ADNOC contractor.

“We were preparing for his homecoming,” Khan’s younger brother, Manzoor Ahmad, told Arab News. “But we received his dead body instead.”

Khan, 49, is survived by his parents, wife, and eight children, who were looking forward to his return for a vacation at the end of this month.

His second brother, Javed Khan, also a driver in the UAE, was the first to learn about his death. An ADNOC employee had called him to say he had suffered injuries in the attack and was in hospital in Abu Dhabi.

“I still didn’t know what had happened, but the site where my brother was working was on fire,” he said. “I asked the caller to tell me clearly if my brother had died. The caller replied in a choked voice, ‘yes,’ and that his dead body was in the hospital.”

Khan was the main support of his family in North Waziristan, an impoverished tribal district on the Pakistan-Afghan border, where years of militancy and security operations have thwarted social and economic development.

A week after Khan’s funeral, his father, who sent him to the UAE more than two decades ago to find a better life, told Arab News he was still struggling to talk about the loss of his son.

“I felt like I was stepping over raging fire when I received the news about my son’s death,” he said.

Khan’s mother has been on tranquilizers since receiving the tragic news.

“At home, we have suffered a lot due to militancy, and when Mamoor left for the UAE, we were sure that he would enjoy a safe life there,” his neighbor and friend Munawar Shah Dawar said. “His death has left us devastated, as he fell prey to a terrorist attack there too.”

Yasir Ahmad, Khan’s eldest son, said he and his father had many plans for the family’s future and would often discuss them over the phone. One of those plans, to set up a small business, was to have been put into action during Khan’s home visit this month. The idea was that the business would have later allowed him to return to Mir Ali for good.

One of Khan’s priorities had been to ensure his younger children received an education, something he had asked Ahmad to oversee.

“My father wanted my younger brother to become a doctor, so that he could come back and spend the rest of his life with us.

“We’ve nothing left now, and even the education of my brothers will suffer because I’m a daily wage laborer, earning 600 rupees ($3.40) a day, which isn’t enough.”

Khan’s body was repatriated to Pakistan and buried on Jan. 20.

Mustafa Haider, director general of the welfare division at the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, told Arab News that death benefits would be paid to the family and the foundation was also considering financial support from its own funds.

Indonesia capital move to remote Borneo sparks rights concerns

Indonesia capital move to remote Borneo sparks rights concerns
Updated 26 January 2022

Indonesia capital move to remote Borneo sparks rights concerns

Indonesia capital move to remote Borneo sparks rights concerns
  • New city named Nusantara, which means ‘archipelago’ in old Javanese
  • Relocation to ease burden on traffic-clogged, polluted and sinking Jakarta

JAKARTA: The Indonesian government recently signed a law to move ahead with its plan to relocate the capital from Jakarta to a jungle site in East Kalimantan on Borneo island, but the massive $32 million project is raising concerns among the region’s indigenous communities.

The potential change in capital city has been under discussion for decades, since Jakarta, a megacity of 10 million people, faces chronic traffic congestion, regular flooding and heavy pollution. It is also one of the world’s fastest sinking cities, with its northern suburbs falling at an estimated 25 centimeters per year. It is estimated that one-third of Jakarta could be submerged by 2050.

However, rights groups have warned that the new state capital law aimed at easing the burden on Jakarta was rushed without consultation.

Pradarma Rupang of environmental group Mining Advocacy Network, or JATAM, said the government has long ignored a number of critical issues in the new capital region in Borneo, including access to clean water. He added that local residents have until now largely depended on rainwater.

“This capital policy was taken without a scientific study,” he said. “The process has been reckless, lacking in participation, and was not based on dialogue with the people.

“The indigenous population is not at all visible in the new state capital law. While on the ground, the existence of the indigenous population is very clear,” Erasmus Cahyadi, deputy secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago, told Arab News.  

According to the alliance’s data, at least 20,000 people from 21 indigenous groups live in the area that has been designated for the new city.

The law permitting the start of construction was passed by the Indonesian parliament last week. It covers how the new city’s development will be funded and governed. Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa announced at the time that new capital will be called Nusantara, which translates to “archipelago” in old Javanese.  

“The new capital has a central function and is a symbol of the identity of the nation, as well as a new center of economic gravity,” the minister said during a parliamentary session.

In constructing a purpose-built capital, Indonesia will be following a path that two other Southeast Asian nations — Malaysia and Myanmar — have taken over the past two decades.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo formally launched the relocation project in 2019, in what has been widely viewed as an attempt to seal his legacy before the end of his second and final term in office until 2024. The new state capital law was approved last week, paving the way for construction to begin.

The megaproject also aims to redistribute wealth across Indonesia. Java, the island on which Jakarta is located, is home to about 60 percent of the country’s population and more than half of economic activity. While the current capital is set to remain Indonesia’s commercial and financial hub, its administration will move to the new city, about 2,000 kilometers northeast of Jakarta. The relocation process is scheduled for completion by 2045.

The government has said that initial planning had been carried out by clearing 56,180 hectares of land to build roads, the presidential palace, government offices and Parliament.

The region surrounding the Nusantara site is known for its deep jungles and various endangered animal species, including orangutans. Concerns over the future of wildlife on Borneo have grown since the plan to move the capital city was made public. Indigenous communities living nearby have also raised concerns over the impacts of construction.

Riri Al-Kahfi, a 29-year-old who lives in East Kalimantan’s seaport city of Balikpapan, where the new city will be located, told Arab News there are growing fears over the survival of local cultures.

“Our hope is that the massive development for the new capital won’t wipe away the culture and diversity in Kalimantan, especially in the regions close to the new capital city,” she said, but added that the city’s construction could help equitable economic development in Indonesia.

“We hope that the positive impact will be felt by the local communities, maybe through empowering local youth and giving them opportunities in the new capital city.”

Family of murdered Yasmin Chkaifi praise ‘hero’ driver who tried to stop attacker

Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, was found stabbed to death in Maida Vale, London. (Metropolitan Police)
Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, was found stabbed to death in Maida Vale, London. (Metropolitan Police)
Updated 26 January 2022

Family of murdered Yasmin Chkaifi praise ‘hero’ driver who tried to stop attacker

Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, was found stabbed to death in Maida Vale, London. (Metropolitan Police)
  • The mother-of-two was stabbed to death by her ex-partner, who was also killed when a passing car struck him

LONDON: The family of a murdered mother-of-two have hailed the driver who allegedly killed her attacker with his car a “hero” and say he should not face a murder charge for his actions.

Yasmin Chkaifi, 43, was stabbed to death in Maida Vale, west London, on Monday by her former husband, Leon McCaskre, 41.

A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after he allegedly mowed down McCaskre with his car in an attempt to prevent him from harming Chkaifi further.

Her family, who visited the scene on Tuesday to pay their respects, praised the actions of the passer-by and said that his bravery deserves recognition.

“The driver of the car was a hero. We didn’t know him at all but he is an absolute hero,” they told reporters. “He saw what was happening and he tried to stop them.

“We want to say to him, ‘Thank you so much. Thank you for risking your life and thank you for not just standing there filming what was happening. Thank you for trying to do something.’

“He should not have been arrested; he is our hero. Our family are very proud of him, we hope that the Queen can give him a medal or something, and there is no way he should be charged and go through the justice system for what he did.”

Police confirmed that both of the deceased were from Maida Vale and had previously been in a relationship. Relatives of Chkaifi said that McCaskre was abusive during the three years the couple were together.

After they broke up three years ago, Chkaifi secured a restraining order against McCaskre and, according to one of her sons, installed a panic alarm.

McCaskre missed a scheduled court appearance on Jan. 4, where he had been due to face a charge of breaching a stalking order forbidding him from contacting Chkaifi, and an arrest warrant was issued in his name.

“Leon was a monster, a demon. His behavior towards her over the years was harrowing,” a member of Chkaifi’s family said.

Another relative alleged that McCaskre had been violent to Chkaifi but the police “had not done anything about it.”

He added: “The police have let another one slip through the net — how many more women have to die?”

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Rawlinson, of the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Command, said on Tuesday that members of the public had “bravely tried to intervene to stop the attack and their actions were very courageous.”

He added: “A man, who was the driver of a car, has been arrested and bailed for a very serious offense and we must carry out a full investigation, looking at all the circumstances.”

Russia offering jabs to children aged 12-17 as cases soar

Russia offering jabs to children aged 12-17 as cases soar
Updated 26 January 2022

Russia offering jabs to children aged 12-17 as cases soar

Russia offering jabs to children aged 12-17 as cases soar
  • Earlier this week, free shots of Sputnik M became available to that age group in a number of areas
  • Those under the age of 15 need parental consent for the shot, while those aged 15-17 can make the decision themselves

MOSCOW: Russia on Wednesday expanded a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12-17 to include more regions, amid the country’s biggest infection surge yet due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.
Earlier this week, free shots of Sputnik M — a version of the Sputnik V vaccine that contains a smaller dose — became available to that age group in a number of areas spanning from the Moscow region surrounding the capital to the Urals to Siberia and the far east.
On Wednesday, the jab became available to teenagers in Volgograd, Astrakhan and Kursk. In Moscow, the vaccination campaign will start in the coming days, Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova told reporters on Wednesday.
Those under the age of 15 need parental consent for the shot, while those aged 15-17 can make the decision themselves, authorities said.
Russia in recent weeks has faced an unprecedented surge of coronavirus infections, with the number of daily confirmed cases increasing five-fold between Jan. 10, when about 15,000 new infections were reported, and Wednesday, when officials tallied 74,692 — another all-time high in the pandemic.
Moscow, the outlying region and St. Petersburg are hit the hardest by the surge and account for about half of all daily new infections.
Officials in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Wednesday sounded the alarm about a sharp spike of COVID-19 infections in children.
Moscow city health department said the number of children infected with the virus increased 14 times in the past two weeks, from 2,000 a week to 28,000. The number of hospitalizations of children with COVID-19 grew ten-fold, the department said in a statement, and in half of those cases children contracted the virus while undergoing elective hospital care for other conditions.
In light of those findings, city officials decided to halt elective hospital care for children for three weeks.
In St. Petersburg, the infection rate among those under 17 has grown eight-fold over the past week, local officials said. Starting Friday, minors in Russia’s second largest city will be barred from attending any extra-curricular classes or activities.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday said there were no plans to introduce remote learning nationwide.
Russian authorities have generally avoided imposing any major restrictions to stem the surge, saying the health system has been coping with the influx of patients.
Furthermore, earlier this month parliament indefinitely postponed introducing restrictions for the unvaccinated that would have proven unpopular among vaccine-hesitant Russians. And this week health officials cut the required isolation period for those who came in contact with COVID-19 patients from 14 days to seven without offering any explanation for the move.
In all, Russia’s state coronavirus task force has reported more than 11.3 million confirmed cases and 328,105 deaths, by far the largest death toll in Europe. Russia’s state statistics agency, which uses broader counting criteria, puts the death toll much higher, saying the overall number of virus-linked deaths between April 2020 and October 2021 was over 625,000.
Just about half of Russia’s 146 million people have been fully vaccinated, even though Russia boasted about being the first country in the world to approve and roll out a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine.

UK Muslim leader says Islamophobia survey reveals scale of problem in Britain

UK Muslim leader says Islamophobia survey reveals scale of problem in Britain
Updated 26 January 2022

UK Muslim leader says Islamophobia survey reveals scale of problem in Britain

UK Muslim leader says Islamophobia survey reveals scale of problem in Britain
  • More than one-in-four people quizzed agreed that “there are areas in Britain that operate under Shariah law”
  • Mohammed: Important to document Islamophobia and share data with policy makers when asking for change

LONDON: A UK Muslim leader said on Tuesday that the findings of a survey on Islamophobia had highlighted “the pervasive nature of the problem” in Britain.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham, revealed that Islamophobia had passed the so-called dinner table test in being considered suitable for polite conversation and socially acceptable.

Titled, “The Dinner Table Prejudice: Islamophobia in Contemporary Britain,” the survey found that Muslims were the UK’s second least-liked group after gypsy and Irish travelers, with 25.9 percent of the British public feeling negative toward Muslims, and 9.9 percent very negative.

Speaking at the report’s launch, Zara Mohammed, the first female secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said Islamophobia was definitely real, contrary to what some people thought, and that it impacted on all aspects of society.

“I think what’s really great about this report and its contribution to the body of evidence is that it shows us not just the pervasive nature of the problem but also that Muslims are some of the least-liked people in the population.

“In my one year so far as the secretary-general of the MCB, what we have seen is unfortunately a very changing landscape for British Muslims and one that is becoming increasingly hostile.

“This is the reality of how Muslims are perceived in everyday Britain, and that is in 2022 as well,” she added.

More than one-in-four people quizzed for the survey, and nearly half of Conservative Party supporters and those who voted to leave the EU, held conspiratorial views that “no-go areas” in the UK existed where Shariah law ruled.

And 26.5 percent of those questioned agreed with the statement that, “there are areas in Britain that operate under Shariah law where non-Muslims are not able to enter,” the study said. Among Conservative Party voters and those who elected to leave the EU, the figure increased to 43.4 percent.

A further 36.3 percent of Brits said they thought that “Islam threatens the British way of life,” and 18.1 percent supported, and 9.5 percent strongly supported, the idea of banning all Muslim migration to the UK.

“British people acknowledge their ignorance of most non-Christian religions, with a majority stating they are ‘not sure’ how Jewish (50.8 percent) and Sikh (62.7 percent) scriptures are taught.

“In the case of Islam, however, people feel more confident making a judgement, with only 40.7 percent being unsure. This is despite the fact that people are much more likely to make the incorrect assumption that Islam is ‘totally’ literalistic. Prejudice toward Islam is not simply ignorance, then, but miseducation and misrecognition,” the study report added.

Mohammed pointed out that Islamophobia had a very real knock-on impact on the everyday lives of Muslims, and she welcomed the academic evidence contained in reports such as the latest one written by Stephen Jones and Amy Unsworth.

She noted that it was important to document the problem and share data with policy makers when asking for change.

“In some ways it empowers Muslim communities to say, ‘don’t think it’s in your heads, actually something needs to be done.’

“The government’s own evidence on hate crime found that 40 percent of all those facing hate crime were Muslims. This is very much a real problem and I’m hoping that on the back of the work that Prof. Jones has done, we will all be able to benefit from it and use it in our campaigns, activism, and conversations.

“Whilst Islamophobia has certainly passed the dinner table test, it’s time for us to be able to move forward and make a real change, and the MCB remains committed to doing that,” Mohammed said.

MP Nusrat Ghani speaks during a session in Parliament in London, Britain. (File/Reuters)

The survey launch has coincided with news headlines about British Muslim Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani’s claims that her faith was given as a reason for her sacking as a government minister in 2020.

She said she was told that her “Muslimness was raised as an issue” at a meeting and that her “Muslim woman minister status was making colleagues feel uncomfortable.”

“It was like being punched in the stomach. I felt humiliated and powerless,” she added.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into the claims.

On Ghani’s allegations, Mohammed said they “highlighted just how systemic and institutional the problem of Islamophobia is. It hits hard, and it hits deep.”

She added that Islamophobia, “isn’t just in our heads, and just over this weekend we have seen at the heart of politics how this also plays out.

“What is actually being done? What is the approach of decision makers to tackling the problem, if any?”

She said the MCB had been working to push for the adoption of a definition of Islamophobia developed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.

According to the APPG definition, Islamophobia was rooted in racism and was a type of racism that targeted expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. The definition was widely endorsed throughout Muslim communities, political parties, and civil society.

However, the ruling Conservative Party rejected the APPG definition in 2019 and said it needed “more consideration.”

The late James Brokenshire, Britain’s communities secretary at the time, told the House of Commons that the APPG definition was not in line with the Equality Act 2010, and that two advisers would be appointed to come up with a definition that was.

However, an imam appointed by ministers as a key adviser on Islamophobia, said on Monday he had been ignored by No. 10 and Michael Gove, the UK’s secretary of state for housing, communities, and local government.

Imam Qari Asim, who was asked to help draw up a definition of Islamophobia, told The Times that he had not received replies to emails and letters that he sent to the government over more than two years since he was appointed.