UK charity launches 'End Islamophobia' campaign to urge UK government to tackle bigotry

UK charity launches 'End Islamophobia' campaign to urge UK government to tackle bigotry
The Aziz Foundation, a UK charity, brought together politicians, celebrities and other influential members of the community to launch its 'End Islamophobia' campaign.
4 min read
21 March, 2023
Muslims in the UK continue to be attacked for their religious beliefs [Getty]

A UK-based Muslim family foundation has brought together famous Muslim faces and their allies to kickstart their ‘End Islamophobia’ campaign on Monday and urge the UK government to officially mark the UN's International Day to Combat Islamophobia every year.

The event, organised by the Aziz Foundation, was held at London's Victoria and Albert Museum on Monday.

Acclaimed British actor Adil Ray hosted, while the speakers included Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, MP Naaz Shah, social media influencer Chunkz, former UN Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed, and model Mariah Idrissi. 

Those in attendance included community and faith leaders, members of parliament, local politicians, artists, and other prominent individuals who had come together to support the Muslim community and tackle the growing problem of Islamophobia. 

The speakers asserted that Islamophobia was a major problem in the UK, and called on the government, public officials, business leaders and individuals to label it as such and help stamp it out. 

"This issue requires a focused addressing," said Professor Ahmed Shaheed, stressing that it was important to identify discrimination against Muslims as Islamophobia. "You can’t address an issue until you name it; you have to name it and name it correctly."

Baroness Warsi described Islamophobia as a "poison" and a "scourge", calling it a "global problem."

"Islamophobia is a form of racism. It targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness. It is a poison, it a scourge. It is found on our streets... but it is also found in the most respectable of settings. It is found in editorial newsrooms, it is found in think tanks, it is found in the corridors of power."

"[Islamophobia] is a global problem, and it requires a global response," she continued, and urged the gathering to "call it out" wherever they found it. 

Chunkz, who has a massive social media following of 13 million, said that many of those who discriminate against Muslims have never met a follower of the faith. 

Last year, the UN declared 15 March as the International Day to Combat Islamophobia. The UK was one of 140 nations to sign the UN resolution to observe the day.

The day was chosen to commemorate the 2019 massacre at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 51 people were killed and 40 others injured by a right-wing extremist. 

"The key challenge for both individuals and business leaders in combatting Islamophobia is being able to recognise it and then act on it," Asif Aziz, the founder of the Aziz Foundation told The New Arab. "Businesses should speak to their Muslim employees about experiences of Islamophobia in the workplace as Islamophobia does not only present itself directly with slurs, it is often more insidious and underhand and in many instances it is unconscious bias. 

We need people of all faiths and none to call it out. If someone is using your background and faith as a weapon that is racism, that is Islamophobia."

The Aziz Foundation is a UK charity that was created to address the challenges faced by British Muslims and wider society.

Islamophobia is a growing problem in the United Kingdom. Religious hate crimes increased by 37 percent between 2021 and 2022 according to government’s statistics, with over 40 percent of those targeted being Muslim.

Earlier on Monday, a damning report found that London’s Metropolitan Police, the largest police force in the country, is institutionally racist, misogynist and homophobic. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan urged the force to accept the recommendations of the report, calling it "one of the darkest days" in its 200-year history.