Councillors who have shared posts calling for Muslims to be deported, described Saudis as “sand peasants” and shared material comparing Asian people to dogs have all been quietly reinstated.
This week saw the publication of the latest hate crime figures, which showed that the number of hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales has reached a record high, with a 12% rise in racially motivated incidents, according to the latest data.
While hate crimes linked to religion were down 18% compared to the previous year, just under half (45%) of all religious hate crime offences were targeted against Muslims. British Muslims make up just 6% of the population.
Despite the very serious nature of Islamophobia and alarm expressed by Muslim communities, the government is yet to come up with its own ‘working’ definition of Islamophobia, despite promising in 2019 to come up with one.
In July, we were told at LFF that the government had ‘paused’ work on a definition, after rejecting the definition put forward by the APPG on British Muslims which other major political parties have adopted.
The government had cited concerns over consequences for ‘freedom of speech’, despite the fact that the definition is not legally binding and the report into the definition repeatedly makes references to guaranteeing free speech.
Since then there’s been little appetite by the party to deal with the problem of Islamophobia and bigotry against Muslims amongst its members. A report by Hope not Hate last year found that 57% of Conservative Party members had a negative attitude towards Muslims with almost half of Conservative Party members (47%) believing that Islam is “a threat to the British way of life”.
Around 58% believed that “there are no go areas in Britain where Sharia law dominates and non-Muslims cannot enter”.
Councillors who have shared posts calling for Muslims to be deported, described Saudis as “sand peasants” and shared material comparing Asian people to dogs have all been quietly reinstated. There seem to have been little to no consequences for Tory MPs who have retweeted the likes of Tommy Robinson.
Meanwhile, the Singh investigation that the party commissioned to look into all forms of prejudice and hatred among members, having initially pledged to be an inquiry into Islamophobia, found that anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the Conservative Party, thought it failed to approach many members who wanted to give evidence.
In light of hate crime awareness week, it’s vitally important to highlight just how reluctant the government have been in dealing with Islamophobia.
A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities told LFF in response: “We have always been clear that this Government does not, and will not, tolerate anti-Muslim hatred in any form and will continue to combat such discrimination and intolerance.”
Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward
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