UK government ends effort to create Islamophobia definition
Muslims were targeted in more religious hate crimes in England and Wales than any other faith group during the year ending March 2022, with 42 percent of offences directed at them, according to official data, and the governing Conservative Party has also been mired in allegations of Islamophobia.
Government ministers are to face questions about the topic on Tuesday the same day Islamophobia Awareness Month begins, British newspaper The Independent reported.
Afzal Khan, an MP for the opposition Labour Party, will make a point of order about why for two years he has not received a reply from prime ministers to letters about the issue.
"Their lack of action since 2018, coupled with the damning allegations made by Conservative MP Nusrat Ghani, all show that they simply do not take the issue seriously," he said.
Ghani was let go as a government minister in 2020 and earlier this year alleged her "Muslimness" was the reason why.
"Year after year, British Muslims are victims of the highest proportion of religiously motivated hate crime," said Khan.
"This trend shows no sign of abating under the Conservative government."
Under then-Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May in 2019, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, who has since passed away, laid out a plan for creating a working definition of Islamophobia.
He said the government "agrees there needs to be a formal definition of Islamophobia to help us strengthen our efforts", according to a press release at the time.
While an adviser was then brought on, during Boris Johnson's premiership, efforts stopped.
Michael Gove, the present administration's communities secretary, is against establishing an Islamophobia definition, according to The Independent.
Islamophobia Awareness Month calls for change on UK anti-Muslim hatehttps://t.co/JrX7aP3ywV— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) November 22, 2021
In September, while not a member of the government, he attended a Counter Extremism Group event.
There, another panellist said the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims' definition of anti-Muslim hatred was "drivel", which Gove agreed with.
The 2018 definition says: "Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness." The document provides examples of Islamophobia.
The APPG definition has been adopted by Labour and other political parties, though the Tory government declined to do so, sparking the 2019 plan to create an official definition.
Gove said at the September event that it "would be very difficult to get a precise definition".
"I think there are dangers if a university or another organisation which should be the home of free debate uses a definition like that to police what people can say in order to penalise them for it," he said.
Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said in a tweet for Islamophobia Awareness Month on Tuesday that the "soft-on-crime Tories have broken their promises" and have "failed to tackle [Islamophobia's] rise on their watch".
A spokesperson for the UK's Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told The Independent it "remains committed to stamping out anti-Muslim hatred and all forms of religious prejudice and we will outline our next steps in due course".