It takes a nation to protect the nation
2019 will be full of challenges for our work and responding to these three words.
One of those challenges is the ongoing work of the APPG on British Muslims. (APPG stands for All Party Parliamentary Group. All-Party Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues.)
In November 2018, this group issued a report on Islamophobia.
The title is:
Report on the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia / anti-Muslim hatred
But what is Islamophobia? After 50 pages of this 72 page report, we read this conclusion:
Having heard a wide cross-section of viewpoints from academic experts, parliamentarians, lawyers, community activists and, importantly, voices from within British Muslim communities, the APPG upon consideration of the vast body evidence presented to us, proposes the following working definition of Islamophobia:
ISLAMOPHOBIA IS ROOTED IN RACISM AND IS A TYPE OF RACISM THAT TARGETS EXPRESSIONS OF MUSLIMNESS OR PERCEIVED MUSLIMNESS.
Though the reader is assured that this definition has no legal weight or implications we venture to guess that it, and the full report, will be promoted as the benchmark for legal consideration. It will be used as another stick to beat and silence people who are critical of Islam.
How significant is this report? The Muslim Council of Britain (who by the way would like to fancy themselves as speaking for all Muslims in the UK but does not) welcomes this report and definition of Islamophobia. It is also supported by The Aziz Foundation. And one of its projects is a Muslim Leadership Development Programme.
Two weeks after publishing their report 75 academics and 750 British Muslim Organisations and institutions have endorsed the definition. One Local authority has also passed a resolution to adopt the definition.
Of the many submissions to the APPG British Muslims, one of their favourite sources and quoted (five times) is Tell MAMA, a group that lost its government funding in 2013 for telling lies about attacks on Muslims.
So we have a made up word – Islamophobia – now being granted a serious inquiry with reverential respect. But to be fair, the Report touches on the linguistic problem with the word, noting that ‘phobia’ refers to an irrational fear; and that some groups had urged the dismissal of the term itself as not being real or helpful. The Report says:
Such has been, for example, one of the main arguments advanced by Douglas Murray, associate director at the Henry Jackson Society and author of The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam, who has long argued that the fear of Islam is not irrational but in fact, “supremely rational”, because Islam can be both violent and extremist.
How convenient for them to quote Douglas Murray, piously demonstrating how widely they have canvassed for other perspectives. A more honest approach would have been to invite Mr Murray to appear before the group and to select the issues (and way of describing those issues) that he wished most to be associated with his name.
This objection is dismissed because to abandon the word would encourage ‘right-leaning spokespeople to reject the entire concept and thus delegitimise the problem.’ The problem is, apparently, discrimination, prejudice and violence directed towards Muslims simply because they are Muslim.
This dismissal, of course, side steps the nature of Islam itself and the affect those teachings have on Muslims. But if those teachings do indeed encourage behaviour that is violent and discriminatory towards non-Muslims then it is rational to understand those teachings and be wary of their effects on Muslims.
Muslim terrorists claim those teachings as motivation for their despicable deeds but this Report is silent as to whether or not Muslim terrorists (ISIS and Al-Qaeda etc.) are telling us the truth. Instead this Report wants society to bend over backwards to avoid anything that could possibly be perceived as hurting the feelings of Muslims.
Does society not have the right and duty to protect and defend itself against the destructive effects of a violent, extremist and discriminatory ideology?
Now with all the resources mustered by 17 MPs and eight members of the House of Lords, society is encouraged once again to link racism to any disagreement with Islam and its teachings. But racism is not defined at all. So we must repeat yet again that we abhor any racist expressions or behaviour. And also repeat that Islam is not a race but a belief system and Muslims can be of any race.
So far the Police and the CPS agree with us. The EDL were carefully scrutinised after our 1 September 2018 demo in Worcester. Earlier, after our demonstration on 21 July the Muslim Community was assured that members of the EDL would “be arrested if they [the EDL] chanted slogans openly against Muslims…”
But the police concluded, after reviewing many videos etc, that the EDL did NOT break any laws. ‘As a result of this, it was deemed that no criminal offences under the Public Order Act had taken place.’ Therefore we conclude that speaking, chanting, and shouting out against Islam is NOT racist or in any way illegal.
However, next time the Police will have this new report to guide and encourage their decision-making.
According to this new definition ‘Muslimness’ is a no go area for discussion and debate, as that too is linked to racism. But what is Muslimness really? Is it anything that smacks of Islamic culture or practices or dress or speech or what?! Or maybe it is to do with Arabness or anything that comes from the Middle East?! And what would all this actually mean in practice? How could anyone be accused of targeting it if we do not know what it actually is? Would it include keeping quiet on such matters as:
For these and other aspects of Islam are we to be silent? Some of our Parliamentary overlords are telling us to shut up. Why? Because, apparently, Muslim citizens of the UK are unable to deal with the emotional fallout of criticism of their beliefs.
One obvious solution to this social problem is for the APPG on British Muslims to simply define, elaborate on, and defend Islam itself. But they would rather deal with the symptoms than to take on the core of the problem. Let them first prove to us, and the rest of society, that Islam is indeed good for this country and is compatible with our traditional values and history.
We won’t be holding our breath.
In fact, quite the opposite: we will be using our voice, loud and strong, to criticise those aspects of Islam and the behaviour of Muslims who threaten us and our way of life.
10 January 2019
This entire discussion is messed up because it is missing the concept of kuffarphobia. It is the kuffarphobia of Islam, and the kuffarphobic actions of Muslims, that generate the so-called 'Islamophobic' reaction to the their constant hate, intimidation, crime, thuggery and terrorism.
Oxford City Council has agreed on a list of examples that should be deemed 'Islamophobic'.
The council passed a motion last night to adopt the APPG (All-Party Parliamentary Group) definition of Islamophobia.
The motion, which was passed unanimously by the full council, was proposed by Councillor Lubna Arshad of Cowley Marsh and seconded by Councillor Jamila Azad of Oxford Labour.
It is now the third council in the UK to adopt the APPG definition which states:
"Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness."
The list below states examples of Islamophobia that the Council now deems as unacceptable:
• Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
• Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.
• Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
• Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims
• Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
• Denying Muslim populations, the right to self-determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavour.
• Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, eg loyalty tests.
• Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia.
• Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.
Even the Police agree with the EDL!
Terror police warn against new rules on Islamophobia
Dominic Kennedy, Investigations Editor
Anti-terrorist operations would be hampered if Theresa May bows to pressure to create an official definition of Islamophobia, the leader of Britain’s police chiefs has warned.
Martin Hewitt, chairman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), said that the reform, proposed by backbench MPs and peers, risked exacerbating community tensions and undermining counterterrorist policing powers and tactics. His intervention comes in a letter to the prime minister, seen by The Times.
Ministers will respond in parliament tomorrow to a backbench debate on the definition. It states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”
The wording has been accepted by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.
The Commons debate was proposed by the Labour MP Wes Streeting and the Change UK MP Anna Soubry who chair the all-party parliamentary group on British Muslims. The group proposed the definition and has been concerned about rising hostility towards Muslims, including violent attacks on mosques.
The adoption of the definition, which could, in effect, make it racist to criticise Islam or “Muslimness”, would clash with existing equality law, which defines racism more narrowly in terms of colour and ethnicity. Critics fear that the reform would amount to a blasphemy law by the back door.
Anti-Islamophobia campaigners believe that, armed with a government-approved definition, they could bring complaints of discrimination to court.
Public authorities could be expected to follow the definition or risk judicial review, under which judges could be asked to rule on whether their actions amount to unlawful discrimination.
Mr Hewitt wrote to the prime minister on Friday detailing police concerns about the damage that could be caused by the definition.
He told Mrs May that he and Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard who speaks for police chiefs on terror, were concerned about the potential to “undermine many elements of counterterrorism powers and policies”.
Mr Hewitt said that the definition posed a threat to terror laws, stop-and-search at ports, the outlawing of terrorist groups, and the ban on possessing or distributing extremist material. It could also undermine the Prevent duty, which requires schools, universities, councils and the NHS to protect people vulnerable to extremism.
Mr Hewitt wrote that the term Islamophobic was “perhaps misleading in the context of hate crime . . . hate crime seeks to protect Muslims and not Islam.” A leaked Whitehall memo reveals that the government’s equality advisers believe the proposed new definition is “not in line with the Equality Act”.
Baroness Warsi, the Conservative peer who chaired the group which developed the definition, told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, however, that Mr Hewitt’s concerns amounted to “irresponsible scaremongering”. She said the proposal would not inhibit officers in their work as it was “a non-legally binding working definition”, and accused Mr Hewitt of not engaging with the process to produce the guidance.
Officials from the Equalities Office have advised ministers that the law “defines ‘race’ as comprising colour, nationality and national or ethnic origins, none of which would encompass a Muslim or an Islamic practice”.
On Islamophobia, a report by the Policy Exchange think tank said that criticism of Sharia and Islamic traditions could be forbidden in Britain under the definition. Its lead author is Trevor Phillips, former chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. It says the definition might have prevented the government investigating allegations of an intolerant Islamic ethos in some Birmingham schools.
“Any criticism of standard Sharia rulings which are at odds with our laws and customs . . . will become unexaminable,” it says.
The authors call for the term Islamophobia to be replaced by “Bias against Muslims” as used by the Office for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
A government spokesman said: “This matter needs careful consideration.”
There is no specific law against Islamophobia in the UK.
However, there are numerous laws which might be used to prosecute offenders.
Stirring up religious hatred is an offence under the Public Order Act 1986.
It can carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
Criminals may also be handed longer sentences for other offences if they are found to have been motivated by racial or religious hostility.
There are separate laws covering online abuse.
In addition, the Equality Act 2010 stops discrimination based on 'protected characteristics' including religion.
If a new, official definition is adopted, it could be used to block government actions in the courts.
Terror legislation could be subject to such judicial reviews, it is claimed.
An unofficial 1997 wording defined Islamophobia as 'unfounded hostility towards Muslims'.
The suggested new one says: 'Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.'
This is real Islamophbia. Trevor Phillips, a damn Islamophobe. (allegedly).
Any criticism of Islam is an attack on Islam. Speaking the truth is hate speech when the truth concerns Islam.
There are multiple convictions of grooming gang members where the majority of perpetrators were Muslim Men and the victims White under age girls.
It couldn't be plainer, it couldn't be misunderstood, the implications couldn't be clearer, but to protect Islam, the Party that now relies heavily on the Muslim vote is prepared to expel any member who may or who has criticised the cult of Muhammad.
New Labour =new Nazis
The revolution (the Labour Party) continues to devour its own members. Or it's being forced to choose between Jews and Muslims. I wonder who comes with the most votes?!
Good sense prevails, this time!
Eddie Hughes, representing the government, responded to the debate making similar points. He consistently used the phrase ‘anti-Muslim hatred’, which correctly draws the focus towards the abuse of Muslims, rather than criticism of Islam.
“We believe that the definition proposed by the APPG for British Muslims, although well supported, is not fit for purpose, and that, if adopted, it would create significant practical and legal issues. Islam is a religion that includes a wide range of races and thus stating, as the definition does, that Islamophobia is a type of racism is incorrect and conflates religion with race.”
“A poll by the organisation Muslim Census found that only 21% of Muslims polled agreed with the APPG definition, primarily due to the confusion it creates between race and religion. The report says:
For attacks on Muslims and Islam to be dealt with appropriately, selecting a definition that the majority of Muslims agree with is vital. The findings of our survey suggest that the APPG definition does not have the backing of the community.”
Concluding, he renewed the government’s commitment to finding a “robust and effective definition” that would defend free speech, including criticism of Islam and Muhammad, saying that the government would outline its steps to achieve it in due course.
Liberty, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear
The Flaw of ‘Islamophobia’
10 September 2021
The Conservative Party promised to establish its own definition of ‘Islamophobia’ and two years later, they have not. But this is unsurprising, because such a definition will be difficult to achieve. MPs have debated the issue this week, in the misguided view that the current APPG working definition of Islamophobia is the best we have. It isn’t and I shall explain why.
The term Islamophobia has been in our lexicon for close to three decades. Whilst its aetiology maybe disputed, it is long been accepted that when it was first coined in 1997 by the independent race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust – in their seminal report Islamophobia: A Challenge for Us All – it prominently became a word used to describe hatred towards Muslims and against Islam. In 2019 a group of British MPs from across the political spectrum, known as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Islamophobia – sought to advance the definition by proposing their own:
Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.
The premise underpinning the new definition is that it is essentially racist to target Muslims. It is precisely this line of argument, that allows Islamists to use this definition as a door to enter into mainstream politics, influential think tanks that focus on race and equality, as well as educational establishments. The intention once inside these institutions, is to influence policy practice with the dual purpose of ensuring it is both “Muslim focused” and “Islam friendly”. This strategy can be known as the “Islamising of public policy discourse to advance the agenda of Islamists”.
Islamophobia Perfect or Flawed?
In order to establish whether it is possible for Islamists to use Islamophobia as this so-called door and thereby “Islamising public policy discourse”, it is probably worth examining the definition in more detail.
The first claim made within the definition is that Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism. The attempt here is to conflate religious identity along the lines of race. In the report Islamophobia an anthology of concerns published by the think tank Civitas, Emma Webb – former director of the Forum on Integration, Democracy and Extremism (FIDE) – charges the APPG of employing the concept of ‘cultural racism’ as a means to bring it in line with other forms of discrimination. Tim Dieppe head of public policy at Christian Concern advances this argument further as he stridently points out that whilst Islam isn’t defined in the APPG report, this is nonetheless an attempt to racialize it.
The APPG seek to place Islamophobia within the paradigm of critical race theory and assert that
The concept of racialisation thus situates Islamophobia within anti-racism discourse which is not however just informed by biological race, but by a culture.
Dieppe rightly diagnoses the issue with this in that, by placing Islam within a racial dimension, criticising any aspect of it could lead to the charge of Islamophobia, which – if we agreed with the APPG definition – would thus be racist. This therefore creates a separate protective layer around not just Muslims, but also Islam which other religions and its adherents do not enjoy. Furthermore, it falsely accuses an individual critiquing Islam as racist, when the charge of actual racism would not normally apply in similar cases.
The second claim within the definition is “expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”, that being Muslim is not only both visible, but so too are its practices.
Muslimness is left undefined and it is correct to do so, this is because if it wasn’t it could potentially caricature Muslims as looking, thinking, speaking in a same and particular way. Moreover, an attempt to define Muslimness would be an incorrect approach and erase the vast diversity within British Muslim communities. It is on this point that I am in agreement with the definition. But that is not to say the definition is correct to employ the term Muslimness in the first place. Nor is it correct to use it as a variable to strengthen the definition of Islamophobia. In fact, the inclusion of such a variable weakens the definition as I shall explain further.
Dr Rumy Hasan senior lecturer at Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, considers the inclusion of Muslimness in the APPG definition as “illegitimate”. The rationale is that being a Muslim stem from beliefs and practices of Islam, rather than biology, which is where race comes from. Moreover, the assumption that Islam – which is essentially an ideology – can be conflated as race is palpably false. This is because, unlike anti-Semitism where Jews are targeted because of their race, the same is not true for Muslims, as they can come from different races and from different parts of the world.
Moreover, the perception of Muslimness is not just a personal one, but can also be left for others to decide. Peter Tatchell, director of the human rights organisation – The Peter Tatchell Foundation – in his contribution to the same Civitas report, considers the implications of using the term Muslimness, which I will quote at length:
Muslimness is a vague and subjective term. Who gets to decide what it means? Muslimness means different things even to different sects of Islam – Sunni, Shia, Sufi and Ahmadi. Some ultra conservatives and Islamists claim to represent true Muslimness and use it to justify their opposition to women’s and LGBT+ rights.
The fact that Muslimness can neither be vague nor descriptive highlights why it is problematic as a variable within the definition of Islamophobia. Identity is a personal matter that should be left to an individual, rather than a matter of policy or for others to establish. The danger therefore of the inclusion of such a variable, is to place moral judgment on what a good Muslim is and what a good Muslim isn’t. The same is therefore true of what a Muslim should look like, and what you would expect a Muslim to not look like.
Such a definition would therefore be at the hands of the state and the judiciary – the arbiters of Muslims and Islam – and in modern times this would be an extraordinary backwards step, a step that resembles Muslim majority countries such as Iran, where Muslim women must wear the hijab as a matter of law. The same would not apply to any other diverse group of people in Britain and therefore, othering Muslims as a separate category of people.
The Door for Islamists
It appears, the problematic nature of the definition would serve Islamists well, because it allows them to use the definition to promote a binary view of the world as Muslim and kafir (non-Muslim). Emma Webb rightly posits that current laws (Crime and Disorder Act 1998; Public Order Act 1986) are sufficient enough to tackle hatred and bigotry towards individuals that happen to be Muslims. Furthermore, should such a definition become law, then it could stand in contradiction to the Waddington Amendment (Public Order Act 1986, section 29J) that protects:
discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.
Thus, such a definition would have a chilling effect on free speech, which is an essential part of a liberal western democracy. It is not something that is necessarily enjoyed in Muslim majority countries such as Saudi Arabia where free speech activist Raif Badawi is still being held in prison for charges of setting up a website for social and political debate. For Islamists, curtailing the right to free speech when it comes to Muslims and Islam is helpful, as it emboldens their actions and gives them a de facto state licence to continue as they please without fear or challenge.
Worryingly the definition has already been adopted by most of the mainstream political parties in Britain, and has been incorporated into policies in some local councils. As highlighted already, Muslims must not be caricatured, because they are neither the same as each other, nor are they different from the society in which they reside in. Moreover, if such a definition becomes law, it is the first step in the curtailment of free speech. As already argued before, free speech is an essential component that separates Britain from theocracies such as Iran or Wahabi influenced countries like Saudi Arabia.
Islamists are seeking to use this definition to enter into institutions to make them “Muslim focussed” and “Islam friendly” and this appears to be the reverse of how Britain operates. It is not for the law to bend its knee to religion, but rather to ensure members of any religious group or none, to act in accordance with the law.
The law must be separated from religion – especially Islam – not infiltrated and contaminated by it. Should this occur, we would see the soft version of Islamic law morphing into public law which would not only be applicable to people of Muslim, but also non Muslims.