Skip to main content

Theresa May condemned for planning to reject Muslim groups’ definition of Islamophobia

THERESA MAY has been condemned for planning to reject Muslim groups’ proposed definition of Islamophobia during a parliamentary debate tomorow on prejudice against their faith and its followers.

The definition states: “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

The decision to reject it has been made on the grounds of free speech, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire told BuzzFeed News.

More than 750 British Muslim organisations had called on the government to adopt the definition used by the British Muslims all-party parliamentary group, which was produced after consultation with the groups, lawyers and MPs.

The definition has been formally endorsed by the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives.

The government claims to be concerned that adopting the definition could mean people who criticise the religion of Islam might be prosecuted for discrimination.

A Muslim Council of Britain spokesperson said it was “truly astonishing the government thinks it knows better than Muslim communities.

“If this free speech rationale is true, it would mean that the government believes that defining the racism that targets Muslims or expressions of Muslimness somehow impinges on free speech.

“Defining anti-semitism does not do so, but defining Islamophobia does. Truly shocking.”

Labour’s shadow equalities minister Naz Shah said: “The Conservative Party is in denial about Islamophobia and other forms of racism in its ranks, and that denial flows from the very top.

“If Theresa May refuses to adopt the definition of Islamophobia, the message she sends to the Muslim community will be heard loud and clear.

“It has been a great struggle to get the police to record Islamophobia as a specific crime, so it is deeply worrying to see the National Police Chiefs Council [NPCC] bringing terrorism into the discussion about tackling Islamophobia.

“This shows a worrying trend of seeing British Muslims through the lens of terror and security, and the Prime Minister must distance herself from this immediately.”

NPCC chairman Martin Hewitt said that the definition could cause confusion among officers and hamper the fight against terrorism as it is “too broad.”

APPG treasurer Baroness Warsi, formerly the most senior Muslim woman in the Conservative Party, called the terrorism claim “extraordinary and disturbing” and said the definition does not seek to stop criticism of Islam.

Speaking on the Today programme this morning, Ms Warsi, who left the party over its “institutional Islamophobia,” dismissed Mr Hewitt’s letter as “irresponsible scaremongering” and urged Ms May to adopt the definition.

OWNED BY OUR READERS

We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 10,84
We need:£ 7,616
8 Days remaining
Donate today