Labour tell Tories to 'get serious' about tackling Islamophobia in the UK

Labour tell Tories to 'get serious' about tackling Islamophobia in the UK
The UK's opposition Labour Party has urged the Conservative government to step up when it comes to tackling Islamophobia in the UK.
3 min read
22 November, 2021
Labour's Anneliese Dodds said Conservatives need 'to abandon the bizarre practice of saying anti-Muslim hatred instead of Islamophobia' [source: Getty]

The British Labour Party has urged the Conservative government to tackle Islamophobia urgently across the UK, according to a statement Friday. 

Labour's Anneliese Dodds and Chair of Labour Muslim Network Afzal Khan wrote to the Chair of the Conservative Party, Oliver Dowden, to demand Tories "do much more" to protect British Muslims - a community targeted by nearly half of all religious hate crimes across England and Wales in 2020 to 2021. 

The opposition party slammed the Conservatives for failing to adopt a working definition of Islamophobia and for ignoring concerns about the rise in hatred directed at Muslim communities in recent years. 

"This government's failure to tackle Islamophobia within its own ranks and beyond is deplorable," said Khan. 

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Khan added that a letter he wrote two years ago to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning of a rising hate crime and government inaction has been ignored. 

"Rather than taking action and showing leadership, this government has buried their head in the sand. As political representatives, we all have a duty to safeguard all communities, no matter their race or religion," he said. 

The Labour Party specifically criticised the Conservative Party's unwillingness to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Groups' (APPG) definition of Islamophobia.

The APPG's definition, published in November 2018, states: "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness." 

The Tories are the only major political party that has refused to accept this definition, endorsed by over 800 British Muslim organisations. 

The Conservatives said over two years ago they would commission two independent experts to draw up a different definition. 

But, only one adviser has been appointed and no proposals have been published. 

"We've called on the Conservative Party to urge their representatives to abandon the bizarre practice of saying anti-Muslim hatred instead of Islamophobia, to adopt the APPG for British Muslims' definition of it, and to keep their promise to launch an independent investigation into Islamophobia in the UK," said Dodds, Labour Party Chair and Shadow Women and Equalities Secretary. 

There were 2,703 incidents of religious hate crimes against British Muslims in England and Wales from 2020 to 2021, according to the UK Home Office. 

Following Liverpool’s terror attack on 11 November, there was a spike in Islamophobic abuse with much of it directed at women wearing the hijab. 

MEND, a not-for-profit group that tracks Islamophobia in the UK said that these incidents are just "an example of the way that Muslims have been increasingly racialised and stereotyped". 

A MEND spokesperson told The New Arab that the Conservative Party needs to do "a lot more among its own membership as well as with its policy" to tackle Islamophobia in the UK. They urged the Tories to adopt the APPG’s definition. 

The organisation suggested tLabour must also do more for British Muslims.

They said the recent by-election in Batley and Spen highlighted the "discontent" among some British Muslims.

MEND said the current leader, Kier Starmer, had failed to engage with Muslim organisations and the party had "distanced" itself from the community in the build-up to the by-election.