Government urged to agree formal definition of anti-Muslim prejudice to tackle discrimination

Independent report on ‘Unlocking British Muslim Potential’ stresses need to define hate crimes against followers of Islam in the same way anti-Semitism was demarcated last year.

The Government should adopt a definition of anti-Muslim prejudice and commission an independent review of its Prevent programme to help Muslims integrate into British society, a new report has found.

More formal partnerships and events across communities are also called for by a major new commission chaired by former Attorney General Dominic Grieve.

The commission found a strong sense that Muslims and Islam are “unfairly targeted”, with the fear of discrimination putting off young British Muslims from engaging in politics and other aspects of public life.

The anti-extremism Prevent programme was also raised as an issue in every one of the 11 cities the commission visited to gather evidence.

The commissioners believe that tackling extremism and radicalisation would be “better achieved with a programme that has greater trust, particularly from the UK’s Muslim communities”.

[TOP RATED COMMENT] Wrong, Islam needs to be criticised, other religions are regularly criticised and held up to ridicule.

This is simply an attempt by the “liberal” establishment to shut down discussion on the dangers of Islam .There are already sufficient laws in place to protect Muslims from hate crimes both verbal and physical, no more protection is needed.

[ANOTHER] The object of this, like earlier attempts, is to make it illegal to criticise Islam in any way.

This a key step on the road to the islamification of the UK, to prevent any type of complaint or protest as being “racist”

The fact that Islam is an ideology not a race seems always to be lost.

[ANOTHER] There is a major problem with reaching such a definition. I have worked on opposition to genuine anti-Muslim hate speech, which is usually more racist than defined by religious antipathy.

At the same time, as an academically trained former lecturer in Islamic Studies who has been workiung on a major study of issues concerning Islam internationally and particularly in the UK, I am aware that many Musims and Muslim bodies are hyper-sensitive to the point where they condemn even rational and informed criticism of Islam as Islamophobic.

Many non-Muslim writers and scholars have been attacked and even put on trial for perfectly accurate statements about the Qur’an, Muhammad, or Islamic history. I fear that those appointed to define Islamophobia will rely heavily on Muslim bodies to reach a definition. I am not an Islamophobe, but I do have criticisms of Islam and some Islamic practice. If the definition is as broadly as many Muslim leaders would like, Islam will become – as it very nearly is – the only religion, ideology, or political philosophy to be ring-fenced against reasonable criticism.

As an atheist and secularist, it is inevitable that I and others like me will say thing Muslims in general may disapprove of. But if their definition is set in legislation, I and others could be accused of a criminal offence, tried, and fined or imprisoned. That has already happened to several people.

The comparison with anti-Semitism (on which see Kenneth Marcus’s scholarly study, ‘The Definition of Anti-Semitism’ and the IHRA definition recognized by the UK, is not entirely safe. There are similarities, of course, but I know no Jews who would call out fair, academic criticisms of Judaism. In the IHRA definition, false, exaggerated, criticism of Israel or setting double standards for it falls foul of being anti-Semitic.

But fair, accurate, and balanced criticism does not, and plenty of Jews do criticisize the state in that way. More worryingly, there are many reformist Muslims and former Muslims who are critical of what they see as outdated aspects of the faith: they too come in for attacks from most imams and Muslim bodies. A bad definition could see Muslim reformers in the dock. We need to proceed with real caution. [The Independent] Read more

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